Finally, it is Christmas Day.
We have always associated this holiday with merriment and joy, with many-colored lights on trees and lanterns, with feasting and gift-giving. We must never forget, as church officials remind us, that Christmas is the day Christ was born, the Christ who was to one day give up his life to save mankind.
Thus, on his day, we relate the story of his birth, as told by St. Luke. Mary who was with child and her husband Joseph of Galilee were in Bethlehem in Judea to register under a tax decree of Emperor Caesar Augustus:
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’
“And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’.” (Luke 2; 7-14)
Days later, three kings came from the east. St. Matthew relates the story:
“ … And lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
“And when they came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, and fell down and worshipped him. When they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts – gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Mathew 2: 9-11)
The first people told of the birth of Christ were poor shepherds watching their flocks out in the fields of Judea – surely an indication that the poor are first in God’s sight. The three kings came days later, guided by the star. Together, they are all part of the Nativity scene – the Belen — which is today the central image of our celebration.
Over the centuries, people have come to welcome Christmas as a great day of joy and happiness highlighted by singing of carols, gift-giving, brightly lighted Christmas trees, and feasting – as expressed in the universal greeting “Merry Christmas” – ‘Maligayang Pasko!”
It is all these, but at the very center of it all, we must never forget, that Christmas is the day Christ was born, God’s way to save humanity from its sins.
A Blessed Christmas to all!