Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My first Christmas in Baclaran

I've been spending Christmas in Davao for the last 16 years. Now that I am working at the CBCP, this is the first time that I am spending Christmas in Baclaran. The photos were taken during the Christmas eve mass last night. I am posting the homily I gave at the 8 pm mass this evening.

The Light that Shines in the Dark

Homily for Christmas 2012, Redemptorist Church Baclaran

"The light shines in the dark, and the darkness could not overcome the light"

 Merry Christmas! This is the greeting that we give each other on Christmas day. But what makes our Christmas merry? What is it that brings joy to Christmas?

Many will say that if we have money to buy new clothes, good food, new gadgets, etc. our Christmas would indeed by merry.

But what about those who have less or none at all? What about the victims of calamity like those in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental? What about those whose loved ones have died? What about the poor who consist the vast majority of our people? Will their Christmas be merry?

Is it possible to celebrate Christmas amidst tragedy, suffering, poverty, violence, etc? Can we have a Merry Christmas when we do not have enough money? When we do not have enough food? When we are sick?

The natural response is no. But our readings tell us that Yes we can celebrate Christmas even in the midst of a seeming dark world, when we feel hopeless and helpless.

The Good News that the Gospel proclaims which we celebrate joyfully:

The Word was Made Flesh and Dwelt among us. God has entered human history, God is with us. He is near to us.

 The coming of Jesus is the coming of light. The light shines in the dark and the darkness could not overcome the light.

 Christmas is for people who are in the dark, for people who are suffering, for people who are looking for hope. Christmas tells us that God has given us the greatest gift -- his only Son who brings salvation into the world, who will overcome all evil -- all darkness.

For people of faith, for those who believe that the child born on a manger to a poor family was indeed the Son of God who became one of us and who brought salvation into the world -  Christmas is a time to be merry.

A Christmas without Christ in our hearts and in our lives is an empty meaningless Christmas even if we have all the money to buy what we desire.

It is Christ who brings joy to Christmas. It is also our love, generosity and capacity to share as followers of Jesus that can bring joy to others – and to ourselves too.