December 27, 2009 in Featured
By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.” — Matthew 2:23
Distortion of Christmas
Christmas is perhaps the most widely celebrated Christian festival, yet it is also the most distorted in terms of its original meaning. For instance, our Seminary staff attended this weekend the wedding of our friend’s daughter in Cavite. On their way home to Baguio they were accosted by a police officer in Metro-Manila actually asking for money as Christmas gift in the guise of violating a traffic rule. Then, the other day we were on our way to Isabela passing by the Sta. Fe road when a group of local officials put a rope across the highway to stop every passers-by and ask for “donation” for their supposedly barangay fiesta in the “spirit” of Christmas. The “donation” is supposedly out of the willingness of the heart.
In Baguio City and elsewhere, you find people going around during the Christmas season asking for their “Christmas gift.” Even indigenous peoples, like the Mangyans and the Aetas, and some elderly people from Mt. Province have come to learn that the Christmas season is a time for them to go down to the lowlands or to the city to ask for “Christmas gift.” We really don’t know where they got this distorted view of Christmas. Perhaps, this is one of the negative consequences of the commercialization of Christmas, so that when Christmas season comes, people think more of what they get rather than what they give.
Whose Birthday, Santa Claus or Jesus?
By just merely looking at the Christmas decorations hanging around in the homes, in the malls, and other public places, we could already imagine whose birthday people are actually celebrating. Certainly, it is not Jesus’ birthday; it is more of Santa Claus’ birthday than of Jesus Christ our Lord. We could see more of Santa’s images than of Jesus. This is symptomatic of what people think about Christmas. Santa traditionally represents material gifts each one would desire to get during the Christmas season. Hence, commercial establishments promote Santa more than Jesus because of the consumerist attitude it generates profitable for business.
But that is precisely the opposite of Christmas. Christmas is a season of giving and not of getting. Of course, we gratefully receive what is heartily given to us, but it is different when we are the ones going around asking people for material things that are supposedly “Christmas gift” , sometimes using all sorts of gimmicks and manipulation all in the name of the child born in Bethlehem. This is precisely the opposite of what Jesus intends to be and to do in being born into this world.
Meaning of Jesus’ Name
According to the Scriptures, Jesus was named Jesus because he will save his people from their sins (Mt. 2:23). Jesus did not remain a child; he grew up into maturity to fulfil the meaning and purpose of his life. And in the fullness of time, he offered his life in the service of the people. He cured the sick, gave light to the blind, fed the hungry, and forgive the sinners. In the words of the Gospel of Mark, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mk. 10:45).
Indeed, giving not getting is the motto of Jesus’ life. For Jesus, giving what we are and what we have is the very expression of love. As the saying goes, “you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Genuine giving, however, is not something that is manipulative or forced on us, but something that comes out of the abundance of a grateful and loving heart.
May you have a meaningful Christmas!# nordis.net