The Birth of John
OPTION 1: Two days from now we will celebrate the Birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. And today’s gospel talks about the birth of St. John the Baptist. His story of birth is not just a simple story just like ours. It is because St. John has a role to fulfill in the salvation history, that is: to prepare the way of the Lord and to point out the coming Messiah.
But, nowadays, we face a problem without our notice. In our world today there is a subtle way, yet very obvious, an attempt to hide the person and divinity of Jesus from our eyes, minds, hearts and from our consciousness. Not only during Christmas season but maybe for all times.
Like for example, this experience of a priest he shared in his written homily. Actually, I heard and saw also of what he shared when I watched CNN by which the anchors greeted their audience: ‘Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas.” According to these anchors, they did it out of political correctness. Their reason why they did it, it’s because of the presence of CHRIST in the word Christmas. This word might offend the sensibilities of non-Christians watching their program. I admired of what they did because they were sensible to the feelings and delicate consciousness of their non-Christian audience. But how about the sensibilities of Christians too, especially Catholics, that this Christmas season is theirs. I would say that they are not sensible. This is a subtle and yet a concrete way on how to conceal Christ from us, Christians and from the rest of the world.
Sometimes, last year, this was also shared by the written homily of a priest and I saw it also in the internet, the State of Denver, Colorado prevented their students in a choral competition from singing, “White Christmas” and asked them to sing, “White Holiday” instead. If I’ m the composer of this song, I would sue that State for changing the title of my song. And when their students were sent off for vacation, they were told to enjoy not the Christmas holiday but the “winter” holidays.
These two examples shall be our food for reflection, that there are attempts by some people to eradicate the name Christ from Christmas and from the rest of the year. This attempt is a very clear blatant move against religious freedom. Here in the Diocese of Marbel topics about religious freedom are shared by selected lay persons during Misa de gallo based on the general theme of the 2011 Pasko ng Pamilya: “Filipino Families: Advocate of Religious Freedom as the path to peace. This general theme follows the motu propio, Religious Freedom as the Path to Peace,for the World Day of Prayer for Peace by Benedict XVI.
In our gospel today, the people ask: “What will this child be?” St. John the Baptist is the courageous forerunner of Jesus and His gospel,, to the point that King Herod have him beheaded and embraced martyrdom due to faithfulness to his mission.
Today let us ask God to have the courage of St. John the Baptist especially that Christmas is a season of gift giving. This is also the season we get all sorts of gifts from our business associates, relatives and friends. However, what I really like about this tradition is that this is also a golden opportunity for us to give gifts to people who have made a difference in our lives and show them our appreciation. When you have a hectic schedule a lot of times we forget or don’t have the time to say thank you and give a token of our gratitude. I also find that there is much less awkwardness in giving something to someone as a Christmas present than in any other occasion.
By mentioning the tradition of gift giving, as we all know that in the dawn of December 17, 2011, typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. A thousand of people were dead and because of this, many people extended their help to the victims of typhoon. But the one thing that touched me went to those little children that instead of buying toys and gifts for themselves during this Christmas, they donated their money to the victims.
In Tampakan South Cotabato, during one of our Misa de gallos, a five-year-old boy offered his piggy bank for the victims of the typhoon. We counted the money and it was almost one thousand pesos. What a touching gesture of this little boy.
Lastly, according to a priest, let us make a conscious effort to show the world that we are Christians. It is by not abbreviating the word ‘Christmas” to “Xmas’ even if it means to exert more effort to write it or text it. Better yet, write CHRIST in capital letters when you send text messages or Christmas cards so that your wishes may become not only greetings but an act of faith and proclamation as well.
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