Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Christmas Message

Like any precious gem the message of Christmas is wrapped up with a protective coat to shield its divine content from impurities of secular biases and worldly interpretations; from the banality of a Christmas atmosphere turned into business schemes and sales strategies; from the shallowness of Christmas gifts devoid of the human heart that gives; from the opaqueness of our interpersonal and communitarian relationship born out of pride and high-handed arrogance, our selfishness and greed, our excessive love of possessions and riches; from lack of concern for others. For the substance of the message of Christmas is Gift of Self – God giving up his dignity of God to become like us puny mortals taking up the name “Emmanuel”, that is, God living with us, sharing the sad story of our humanity that has for time immemorial been suffering the weight of human frailties. The motivation behind this divine act is simply beyond comprehension, unbelievable. But acts of love are always that: they are unbelievable. St. John the Evangelist described this God’s act of love in this simple line: “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Truly, the greetings of Christmas are glad tidings of love and compassion for us all.

It is, however,interesting to note that the message of Christmas comes out handy and useful when man, down and out with great losses in life, still sees a ray of hope at the end of the dark tunnel; its true worth appreciated when he, left vulnerable to the stark negativity of life, feels the naked Baby Jesus lying within his being.

With this observation it is safe to say that sad realities of life help man break open the secret message of Christmas. Of late our country has undergone social, political, and climactic upheavals whose impact cannot as yet be measured or figured out. That these happened in this moment of our history is worth looking into. What is God’s Christmas message to us?

It all started with the issuance of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effected by no less than the Supreme Court itself deliberating in banc. Its content was to allow the former President Gloria Arroyo to set out of the country for health reason and thereby suspend the power of the Watch List issued by the Department of Justice, an Executive Branch of the government, barring the same to leave the Country. It was a clash of conflicting orders each side advancing grounds for their actions. While this dispute was going on, an order came out from the Judiciary – a lower court it’s true , yet has power to make a court order - to disallow her to leave the country because she has a pending case in court to respond and to settle. Caught up with these legal complexities the former president has to remain in the country, in a hospital specifically designated for her while on trial.

Then came the impeachment case against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To the amazement of everybody, the lower House of Congress came up with the move to impeach the Chief Justice. Signed by a big number of congressmen, the impeachment case was then submitted to the Senate for consideration. The Senate went over the case, appreciated its merit, and promptly sent a summon to the Chief Justice to answer the accusations regarding the issue at bar.

Then, a more deadly tragedy struck the nation. Tropical Storm Sendong stealthily entered the Southern part of the Country, bringing with it lots of rain that caused rampaging floodwaters thickened along the way with mud and all sorts of debris , flushing through towns and villages in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. Thousands of lives have been lost at its tail, homes were destroyed and entire villages wiped out.

All these happened just some days before Christmas 2011. Is there a message to all these sad events? Yes, there is.

Firstly, It is in the midst of these misfortunes that God is deeply sensed to bring redemption to a man who needs redemption; to a person who is weighed down by his guilt, and is suffering from an existential evil, such as flood that drowned his loved ones and carried away all his belongings. It is in the midst of these variegated ills and tragedies of life that God is discovered to be the God who existentially listens to the cry of the poor. Keeping records of these encounters would eventually develop within man a solid foundation of his being. God becomes his foundation.

Secondly, our Christmas would be meaningful this year if we get up and help our brothers and sisters who fell victims to this force of nature. Our disciplined celebration of Christmas, the restrained cut-down of our holiday expenses for the sake of our brothers and sisters would in a long way teach us precious lessons of compassion, care, and concern. As beautifully expressed by Pope Benedict XVI: “The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer” (Encyclical Letter “Spe Salvi”, 38). Adversity, suffering, mysterious events do instruct.