Christmas is a feast of faith. Without faith, Christmas will only be a social festival. Christmas is a Gift wrapped in love to be received in faith. Without faith, Christmas gift giving is only a commercial gimmickry for profit and business gain. The merriment of Christmas must be a fruit of faith. Wishing “Merry Christmas!” without faith is no better than fools laughing madly without reason. Christmas can only be merry because heaven burst forth in love and revealed to us the name of God—Emmanuel, God with us!
Unfortunately, Christmas has been claimed by everybody as a long weekend holiday of joy without remembering Him who brought us that reason for joy.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become a season for festive lighting and amazing carnivals but people have forgotten how difficult it must have been for Mary and Joseph to find a room in the inn; the unfortunate couple continues to be rejected in our broken homes.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become a season for bargain sales and street markets even as the buyers and sellers seem to forget their immortal souls.
Unfortunately, Christmas has only become an adjective to describe parties and salary bonuses because we have forgotten that Christmas is an event of the past that must still continue to happen through us.
Unfortunately, Christmas carols have become romantic songs for loved ones we miss because people have forgotten the angels that announced his birth, the sweetest carollers of all times.
Unfortunately, Christmas carolling has become a yearly fund raising occasion because people have put a price tag into almost everything…and everyone.
Unfortunately, the simbang gabi is turning out to be just a Filipino Christmas tradition without understanding that it was first meant to be a thanksgiving novena for the gift of our Catholic faith that we now ridicule and ignore and consider obsolete.
But thanks be to God, that in spite of it all, Christmas is still the greatest feast of all because it celebrates the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift of all. We must regain the real merriment of Christmas and return to the real reason for the season. By faith all these will be possible. Without faith, this season will become just one of the pagan festivals. Christmas is God’s gift to us. Let us take it back from those who have spoiled it; ourselves included.
Emmanuel, God with us, increase our faith. Set our faith on fire again. Help us to live our faith with courage against all odds. Use us to spread the fire of faith all over our land. Lord, increase our faith! Emmanuel, strengthen our faith!
From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, December 24, 2012
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)