by Bishop Art Ferriol
Christmas is one of the most anticipated and eagerly awaited dates in the calendar. Christian believer around the world waited for this day to come. It is considered the joyous season of the year. Families and friends gathered together to celebrate this day. Everyone who believes and recognizes the importance of this day has their own way of celebrating it. In the Philippines, we celebrate Christmas with a long preparation. It starts from the 16th day of December ending up to Christmas day itself with extensions where some celebrate it until the first week of January. Considered as the first Christian nation in Asia its festivities spread throughout the country. Homes are decorated with colorful symbolic Christmas ornaments. The streets are lighted up with sparkling dazzle and Christmas carols echoes in the air. The breeze of December they say is different in the Philippines. This is the traditional way of Christmas celebration but what is the true spirit of Christmas and how shall we celebrate it?
Until we recognized the true meaning of Christmas we can never know how to celebrate this important date and realize its true spirit. Looking at the present day scenario, Christmas has been shaped up into an over-killed picture of commercialism and fad bandwagon. Materialism covers the real meaning of Christmas and snatches away the true spirit of Christ’s birth. In the literal sense, Christmas has been dubbed as a “holiday” of fun. It neglected the real and true meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ. The focus of jubilation has now been directed on people and the tangible things that go with it. It lost the solemnity and the worship-like attitude of thanksgiving. Instead of giving praise and thanksgiving to the birthday celebrant the attention of people curved on with each other, wooing and giving favor to men.
Christmas is not all about the merriment, or the festivities, or the exchanging of gifts, nor the shopping spree, it is about the birth of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation. Christ was given to mankind for the remission of our sins that whosoever believed in Him shall find life (John 3:16). He came to this earth with a clear objective of bridging the gap between God and man. The true spirit of Christmas lies on the truth that Christ came to save us. He is the message of the good news.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, I bring good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”-Luke 2:10-11
Christmas means that no one need to live a life bound and slaved by sin. Man need not to face an eternity without hope of being with God. The birth of Christ opened to everyone the possibility of heaven. Salvation is now offered as a free gift to all who believe. This is the greatest gift that anyone can receive, an everlasting life with Him.
With this truth about the real meaning of Christmas it’s just right to celebrate it with praise and thanksgiving. Let us recognize the sacrifice of the Father in giving Jesus Christ as our Savior. He is the greatest gift for mankind. We can exchange gift with Him when we believe, accept and receive Christ in our life.