“My soul rejoices in my God.My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” — Luke 1:46-48
Christmas in this year 2020 is a sobering reminder that what truly matters most is celebrating the gift of eternal life, the gift of salvation that has come to us through the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before the pandemic came upon the world all over, most people had come to equate Christmas with the external trimmings — decors, new clothes, gift-giving, parties, holiday foods. We often exclaim it’s that time of the year again.
There is nothing wrong with any of these in themselves. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be merry and enjoy with our family and friends.
But what is sad is when the real meaning of Christmas — JOY — is lost and Christmas becomes a commercialized, secular holiday.
But you see, that’s the irony. These external factors that we think will give us the so-called “Christmas joy” are also the same things that cause stress, anxiety, feeling of being overwhelmed. Some may even experience holiday depression.
The priest in last Gaudete Sunday’s livestreamed mass I attended related that some of his parishioners were expressing how difficult life has become due to the pandemic. And because they are feeling the pinch, they have decided not to put up any Christmas decor, not even a “belen” or the Nativity scene. “Oh how can there be Christmas if I don’t have a job or money?”
Perhaps many can relate or understand this.
But another reason could be because the basis for the expected happiness in this season is tied with the ephemeral or the superficial glitter that comes with it. So the real Spirit of Christmas is absent in the heart; it is not felt.
Why? Because we focus more on the material gifts we want to give and receive, instead of offering our best selves to the One whose birth is what we should be celebrating.
However, Christmas is more than any of these external expression of happiness.
The bottom line is if we forget the true meaning of Christmas, we will not be truly happy.
In his Sunday homily, the priest shared how to be real happy this Christmas.
To be content is to be happy. To be happy and joyful with who you are and with what you have. A content person is a happy person.
Like John the Baptist in the Gospel, he was content being who he was – that he was not the Messiah but the one paving the way for the ONE who is.
Jesus Himself was content to be born in a manger to a simple family.
2020 has brought so much pain, but is full of lessons to learn. As many now realize, a simple life is enough to make one happy. You can still be joyful even in the midst of lack. As long as you have your family strong and intact, as long as you have good health, as long as you are together with those you love, physical distance notwithstanding — these already can bring real joy and happiness.
A person who is content knows to be grateful. When you are grateful for every blessing you receive — big or small, good or bad happenings in your life — you learn to be happy.
Sometimes, we complain about not having enough, or not having those things we crave for. Yet, as we ponder, in God’s own time, He will grant us what is meant for us and what is good for us.
So, as we are reminded by the Gaudete Sunday’s Gospel, and as we are now celebrating the 3rd week of Advent, let us rejoice as we anticipate the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
CHRISTmas is a blessed event in our salvation history. Christ came into our humanity to be one of us. Emmanuel ~~ God is with us! And this should be Reason enough to be joyful and grateful this Holy Season of Christmas.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Yes — our problems now may seem too heavy for us to carry and leave a space in our heart to be happy. But do you know what can help alleviate such negative feelings and emotions? Going out of ourselves, and giving time to help others in more dire situations.
We can be happier, when we focus less on ourselves and be a good neighbor to our suffering brothers and sisters in our midst, so that we can bring to them the Joy of Christmas!