Is 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
As the story goes there was an inquisitive four-year-old who happened to be rooted strongly to the “Why” and “Tell me” stage of life. The boy was helping his father set up the Christmas decorations. Imagine the scene with boxes scattered about and listen to the conversation.
“Daddy, why are there so many lights? What do all these colors mean? Why do you cut branches off the tree and hang them on the door? Did you help your daddy when you were big like me? Tell me again the story of baby Jesus. Why do we bring a tree in the house? Mommy’s going to get mad if you make a mess/”
Does that sound familiar? Well, it continues. The little boy was helping to sort out ornaments and said: “Daddy, what dopes ignore mean?”
The father explained: “Ignore means not to pay attention to people when they call you.”
Immediately the little boy looked up at his father and said: “I don’t think we should ignore Jesus.”
Puzzled, the father knelt closer to his animated son and replied: “I don’t think we should ignore Jesus either, son. I think we should give him our full attention. Why do you say that we ignore him?”
But Daddy, that’s what the Christmas carol says” ‘Oh come let us ignore him.”
Kids sure do say the darndest things, don’t they? But, you know, often we actually get so caught up in the frenzy of preparations, parties, shopping and decorating that we appear to ignore the true meaning of Christmas and fail to prepare a place in our hearts to come and adore him.
Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth which is popularly known as Christmas. But what is Christmas anyway?
The word Christmas comes from the words Cristes maesse or “Christ’s Mass” Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Savior of all humankind especially for us Christian Catholics. Most historians peg the first Christmas celebration to Rome in 336 A.D. Christmas is both a holiday and a holyday. For us here in the Philippines, it is the biggest event of the year and even feel the beginning of the spirit of Christmas at the month of September. For us Catholics, it’s an important day in our liturgical calendar of the Church since the Lord became incarnate. The Philippine government, schools, business establishments and many more give employees one or two days off at Christmas making it an important holiday. For us Catholics too, it’s one of the big holy feast days celebrated here in the Philippines. Other holy days could be New Year’ day, Ascension, Assumption, All Saints and All Souls Day and the Immaculate Conception. It is such a big deal since as Christians, we follow Jesus and the birth of Jesus is important to us.
We give each other gifts during Christmas, what is the reason? We give Christmas gift because of a tradition that seems begin with the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus. As stated in the gospel of St. Matthew: “On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and incense and of myrrh.”
However, no one was really in the habit of exchanging elaborate gifts until late in the 1800s.
December 25 was the date given to us as the day of the birth of our Lord. Is this true? No one really knows. What is known is that the early Christian leaders in 336 A.D. set the date to December 25 in an attempt to eclipse a popular pagan holiday in Rome called saturnalia that celebrated the winter solstice. Originally, the celebration of Christmas involved a simple mass but over time Christmas has replaced a number of other holidays in many other countries and a large number of traditions have been absorbed into the celebration in the process.
Sometimes we misspelled the word Christmas as Xmas. It is because according to the book, Did You even Wonder by Jeff Rovin, the word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. The use of the shortened form “Xmas” became popular in Europe in the 1500s.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A