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Filipino Christmas

Make the Dream Come True

By Fr. Don Kill

For millions of Filipinos, Christmas is a celebration of the family. They come together from around the world; they delight in the togetherness and sharing of respect. They honor the aged, bless the children, and feed the hungry. They fill the churches with light, song and festival, and they have joyful celebrations. They recall the story of that astounding child who became the greatest person to influence the history of the human race for the good.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the greatest values of the human person brought to us anew thousands of years ago by the birth of the Child from Nazareth. He survived the poverty and the dangers and grew up at the knee of His mother and beside the workbench of His father, and He did so with deep faith, enduring hope and undying love.

Jesus learned well from His parents who had suffered poverty and rejection. They fled, with Jesus, the massacre of the children by Herod. They crossed the border into Egypt and became impoverished refugees. They knew the merciless anger of the fanatical tyrant king and saw the intolerable injustice of his administration.

The Child heard the stories of His people's history. He listened when His mother sang her song of how the mighty power of love could scatter proud, elite rulers and destroy all their evil plans so the poor could be lifted up.

As a teenager Jesus learned how such love can change the world and fill the hungry with good things and how, in justice, the selfish rich are sent away empty to reflect, repent and ask forgiveness for their greed, arrogance and abuse.

Jesus grew to be a powerful personality, a hero of the oppressed. He was a great teacher, a servant leader and the ultimate example of self-sacrificing love. The message of Jesus was a message of compassion and mercy for all.

It was the power of this message of compassion, mercy and love that came into the world on the first Christmas with the birth of Jesus.

When He was born so was His dream but, in our day, we have to ask whether that dream can ever become a reality, or must it remain a dream, an unattainable reality? It is up to each one of us to work together to make that dream come true.

And so, as I prepare to celebrate Christmas this year I ponder in meditation, "What can I do to make that dream come true?"

How might I make this day a better day than yesterday? How might my words and deeds today prepare me and my world for another New Year? How might I give more generously of all that I call my own? And how to receive more humbly what others kindly offer? You have taught us that it is in giving that we receive and in receiving that we humbly acknowledge our need of others. How might I speak more honestly and without fear what is in my mind, my thoughts, my heart, without anger when others do not understand or agree immediately?

How might I listen more patiently so that I can more clearly hear others as they fearfully speak their truth and show my acceptance of them even when I disagree?

How might I be more merciful when others' faults offend me? How might I be more grateful for mercy shown to me when I have offended others?

How might I be more faithful, Lord, to You? How might I make more time today to spend alone with You? How might I make more time to spend with those who need me today? How might I make this day, Lord, a better day than yesterday? How might my words and deeds today prepare me for another New Year? It is only in Your being born, O Lord, that I can be born anew with You, so that Your light can guide me and lead me home to You.

May the light of Christ shine upon us all and bring us to the new life that Jesus has promised us as we begin again a New Year. Have a blessed Christmas and a peaceful, loving New Year.

Columban Fr. Don Kill lives and works in the Philippines.