Valderrama: The heart of Christmas - SunStar

Valderrama: The heart of Christmas

By Maria Gemima C. Valderrama
SHE Writes

MOVE around town and though in broad daylight you see Christmas lights all over. And at night, you see these lights blinking with intense fashion. Though it is still Advent time, it’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas.

Earlier on, before December, you hear Christmas songs, and Jose Mari Chan begins to define our celebration of Christmas with his song, “Whenever I see boys and girls selling lanterns on the streets…”. Again, it’s really beginning to look and feel like Christmas.

Though we are not totally free from the virus, most of us brave the streets and jeepneys to go to the malls. We can see people swarm the mall with their children and with their cellphones to get some selfies and groupies beneath the huge Christmas tree.

After being locked down for a year, they finally want to set themselves free. Or maybe it is because of the vaccine. They feel confident to roam around. Who cares about the pandemic? As the neighborhood expression says, “Die today, die tomorrow; the same die.”

So, in all the malls, they splurge in buying gifts for themselves and for their children, grandchildren, or friends. Engaging in buying spree, who cares if the virus is just around. Their freedom is far greater than the depressing lockdown.

But let us always remember that the virus is an invisible enemy. It may get through us, and we can pass it on to our family and friends.

But Christmas is more than this. Beyond commercialism and materialism Let’s keep the heart of Christmas in our lives and it begins with the Advent season – the four weeks before Christmas.

The heart of Christmas is Christ. We might forget this as many of us drown ourselves in the commercialism of it all. The Christ whose birthday we celebrate this Christmas was born in the manger to remind us of the ordinariness and simplicity of His nativity.

Christ was born surrounded by the animals on the farm and the star that shone in the dark of the night. No wonder we always feel nostalgic with “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.”

In case we become sad and lonely because there is nothing on our table on Christmas, let us be reminded of the simplicity of the manger where our Lord Jesus was born.

God, in His love and goodness, was born in the simplicity of life so humanity must ponder on the ordinary life of Christ.

So, with Advent, the Church prepares to purify our hearts for the coming of the Lord. Good that the nine mornings has inspired the faithful especially the young to go to the nine dawn masses. They have their personal intentions. But the greater intention is really to adore the loving God who gave us His Son so all of us find inspiration in the simplicity of lives.

Christ was born not for himself but for others. That was God’s generous intention – to let His Son live for others. Christ was born to serve others. I hope we take this to heart when we feel so down without those Christmas glitters.

Duc in Altum. This is Latin for “put out into the deep”, the words that Jesus said to Peter when he first encountered him prompting him to go into deep water and lower his nets for a catch. And we know the story from there.

This invites us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with trust and confidence.

I have witnessed how people swarm the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish for the Simbang Gabi. In normal Sunday masses in this time of the pandemic, mass goers can only occupy three seats on every bench. In a normal setup, one bench can occupy eight people, but with strict health protocols, people need to sit two meters apart from each other.

So, just imagine only about 30 percent of the seating capacity can be occupied, and it isn’t even full. But when Simbang Gabi started its first day on December 16, hundreds of chairs were placed outside the church. All of them are occupied and many more are still standing in every corner.

But I love the spaces in between the chairs. It makes me want to pray harder without being conscious that the next person can hear me. Sometimes I’d like to wish that it will stay like this even without the virus. It’s more about discipline, consciousness, motivation.

Just few more days and it’s Christmas Eve. We’ve surely prepared for our noche buena and gifts. But let us always remember that the greatest gifts are those that are unwrapped — love, generosity, kindness, reconciliation, forgiveness, repentance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.