Recently, after one Simbang Gabi Mass, I was floored by a question whispered to me by one middle-aged woman. “Father, okay lang po ba kung hindi muna kami maghahanda sa Pasko?” I thought then and there that her point was just monetary which could be due to the present challenging financial circumstance. But she went on further without waiting yet for my reply. “Kasi Father malalayo naman kaming pamilya sa isa-isa… Tsaka hindi naman na kami kumpleto… Unang Pasko na wala ang aking anak… napakabait pa naman ng anak ko na yun.” Her favorite child has just died.

Should Christmas be really happy for it to become what it really is or should be?  Will Christmas be happy if we get to eat sumptuously? If we get to check all those in our list? If we get to party until the wee? If we get loads of gifts? And so on and so forth…. Perhaps, almost half of the world’s population are not having all these. So, how will Christmas be then when happiness is too far away?

A mother attending to her very sick daughter diagnosed of cancer, a father working in a far away barren Arab territory, a young mother in a night shift job abroad, a broken-hearted young mother left alone to take care of the kids, a father of the family but behind bars for quite some time now, a family in animosities and coldness from and among each other… they maybe faceless but they are true and real people we could encounter. I have met them myself and they could be saying to me with their seemingly helpless eyes, “Parang hindi po nararamdaman ang Pasko, Father.” Indeed it is not if we look at it as the happiness of must-have’s and must-do’s. I must have this and I will be happy. I must to do this in order to make me happy. But there is more to Christmas than just being happy or merry. There is that joyous Christmas.

It is not enough that we are simply happy. It is more fulfilling to become joyful. We can be happy when we have gifts; it is more heartening to share gifts. We can be happy when we party; it is far more heartwarming when we instead care to visit the sick first. We can be happy when we eat together over our favorite dishes; but it is rather more encouraging when we share meals because we are reconciled once again. In the end, even our happiness could not just depend in what satisfies ourselves, but in the way we care and reach out to others.

After all, the first and original Christmas was not about having nor doing. The Holy Family had practically nothing. Not an inn to welcome them. Nobody to assist them. Nothing of the fancy of a delivery room. They only had each other. They just clung each other’s hand. They held on to God’s hand. It was enough. In fact, more than enough to let the heavens ring and the angels singing – Joy to the World!

Going back to the woman. I told her, “No, Christmas must go on. Ituloy nyo po. Maghanda po kayo…. Baka si Hesus na nga lang ang pinanghahawakan nyo, bibitawan nyo pa ba?” In fact and in truth, It is not only that we cling to God, it is actually God holding us tightly constantly. Kaya, wag lang bibitaw.

Joyful Christmas to everyone!

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