OUR life’s Christmas Tree stands on a triangular base of faith, hope and charity around which we celebrate such a special day as today, Jesus’ birthday.
We Christians can expect to be blessed with relative peace and equanimity today and most of our days by allowing our minds to be illuminated by faith, our hearts suffused with hope, and our hands guided by charity.
These moral elements are hinged on the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance which we urge fellow Filipinos to pursue and proclaim during these troubled times of our Republic.
This season of grace should remind those holding the levers of government to avoid abuse of power, persecution and corruption – and us citizens to renew our commitment to obey the law and pay correct taxes.
To many of us getting weary denouncing excesses of those holding positions of authority while disdaining accountability, the promise of renewal of Christmas and the coming New Year should recharge our resolve.
Just keep at it while being patient and prayerful. Change comes in cumulative stages. Advent itself is not one big glorious day but a stream of related events.
In his homily at the Casa Santa Marta the other Monday, Pope Francis urged believers to ask for the grace to prepare themselves with faith to celebrate Christmas. He said it was not easy to keep and defend the faith but that with faith “everything is possible.”
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day that tells of a paralytic man healed by Jesus, the Pope said faith gives courage and “shows the way to touch the heart of the Lord.”
• Pope’s message last year still relevant
WE turned back to the Pope’s Christmas message of last year. Finding it still timely and relevant, we picked up excerpts for sharing:
“Luke brings us to the heart of that holy night: Mary gave birth — she gave us Jesus, the Light of the world — a simple story that plunges us into the event that changes our history forever. Everything, that night, became a source of hope.
“By decree of the Emperor, Mary and Joseph were forced to set out. They had to leave their people, their home, their land, and undertake a journey to be registered in the census. This was no comfortable or easy trip for a young couple about to have a child.
“They were full of hope and expectation because of the child about to be born, yet they were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their homes. They arrived in Bethlehem and found there was no place for them.
“And there, where everything was a challenge, Mary gave us Emmanuel. The Son of God had to be born in a stable because his own had no room for him.
“Amid the gloom of a city that had no room or place for the stranger, amid the darkness of a bustling city which seemed to want to build itself up by turning its back on others… it was precisely there that the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled.
“In Bethlehem, a small chink opens up for those who have lost their land, their country, their dreams; even for those overcome by the asphyxia produced by a life of isolation.
“There are many footsteps hidden in the journey of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away, but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones.
“In many cases, this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future, yet for others, this departure has only one name — survival. They have to survive the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.
“That night, the One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no space at the table or in the streets of the city. The shepherds are the first to hear this Good News. They were men and women forced to live on the edges of society. Their skin, their clothing, smell, way of speaking, origin… everything about them generated mistrust. They were persons to be kept at a distance, to be feared.
“This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same.
“The faith we proclaim tonight makes us see God present in all those situations where we think he is absent. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighborhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors.
“This same faith impels us to make space for a new social imagination, and not to be afraid of experiencing new forms of relationship, in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.
“Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a ‘house of bread,’ a land of hospitality.”