By FORMER SENATOR ATTY. JOEY D. LINA
It’s Christmas Day, the most wonderful time of the year for Christians and even non-Christians as abundance of love and generosity can be overwhelming, when forgiveness and reconciliation – kindled by mercy and compassion – binds humanity the world over.
For the very young, Christmas doesn’t only mean a celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ who came down from heaven and became man, but the coming to town of Santa Claus from whom good kids expect to receive toys and other gifts.
For grownups, Christmas could be an inner joy of light and peace, according to Pope Francis. Despite all the suffering and misery in this world, the message of Christmas as proclaimed in the Gospel is a message of joy, he stressed. The very first Christmas more than 2,000 years ago “was not a condemnation of social injustice and poverty; it was an announcement of joy… Christmas is joy, religious joy, God’s joy, an inner joy of light and peace.”
The Holy Bible says it clearly: “For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17).” It also proclaims: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”
But how can one have eternal life? Jesus himself gave the answer: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Thus, on these two greatest commandments lie the key to salvation. To truly love God and our neighbor as ourselves, we need to utilize our time, talent, and treasure to serve others especially as we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
To truly love is to truly serve. Love without service means nothing. Loving and serving go hand in hand. Otherwise, love would be meaningless. And the best way to serve is through the corporal works of mercy – Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, bury the dead.
And there are also the spiritual works of mercy – Admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, pray for the living and the dead.
Christmas time is indeed an opportunity for the faithful to devote their efforts and resources to bring forth God’s Kingdom in this world, just as we aspire whenever we pray to God in the words Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer.
Christmas can also be viewed as a gift from God and, in the words of Pope Francis, a “call from God who gives us this gift” with a question: “Do we want to receive Him or do we prefer other gifts?”
“He waits for us; He never tires of waiting for us. He gives us the gift and then waits for us. This happens in the life of each and every one of us. There are those who ignore him. But God is patient and the peace and serenity of Christmas Eve is a reflection of God’s patience toward us,” Pope Francis once told the Vatican Insider.
As for Santa Claus, let me share with you the world’s most famous newspaper editorial. It found print in the Sept. 21, 1897 issue of New York Sun featuring a letter of Virginia O’Hanlon who wrote: “Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
Editor Francis Pharcellus Church replied: “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see… Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
He added: “Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”
May Jesus fill all of us with the profound joy of His Nativity. Merry Christmas!
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