THE PASSERBY | The joy of Christmas

The joy of Christmas
THE joy of Christmas springs from the fact that Jesus Christ, our savior, is born. “Puer natus est nobis,” says the entrance prayer in the Christmas Mass. A child is born for us, he is Christ the Lord, our Savior.

This good news should give us unspeakable joy. Whatever we may experience in this life, and many of them will not be good, we are sure of our salvation because Christ, the Son of God, the perfect
image that God has of himself, and the pattern of our humanity, has come to redeem us, to reclaim us as his own.

He will bear all our burden, our sins, our miseries, and conquer them with his passion, death and resurrection. He will give us everything that will enable us to recover our dignity as children of
God, image and likeness of God, no matter how unworthy we feel we are of such dignity, no matter how we mess up our life.

As long as we show some openness to God’s mercy, salvation is assured, without prejudice to some purifying processes that may be necessary, and the truth about hell. But God’s mercy, which goes
together with his justice, abounds more than our sins.

This is the very core of our joy in Christmas. We are given a tremendous gift—God himself in Jesus Christ made present in our life through the Holy Spirit. He has made himself visible, tangible and accessible in the Church, in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, in his word recorded in Sacred Scripture, in the lives of saints, etc.

We really have no reason to worry. On the contrary, we have every reason to be happy in spite of whatever. We may not be able to fathom the depth of his love for us, nor capture the richness of
his mercy, but God is bent to save. He predestines no one to hell. If we get to hell, it is because of us, not because of him. And sad to say, we are capable to choosing hell rather than heaven.

The practical consequence of this truth of our faith is that we just have to be sport in our life, trying our best to do what we ought to do, although we know that we often miss the mark. We just
have to help one another to be holy, to try to be worthy of God’s love by corresponding as fully as we can to his love. We have to be patient with one another.

We have to learn to be like Christ who is willing to suffer for all of us. This is the way we can attain our true joy, and not be deceived by the many forms of false joy proliferating in the world today.

We need to train ourselves to have our sense of joy properly rooted. In this regard, let us try to be theological about it and not just sentimental or emotional, though the latter are also important, but as expressions of the objective foundation of our joy.

The spiritual and supernatural foundation of our joy has to be expressed also in a human way, through our emotions and passions. This is also to be learned, because many people do not know
how to translate their interior joy externally, or to show their spiritual joy on their faces.

Let us try to keep our Christmas joy alive all throughout the year. This is the kind of joy that can be felt even in the midst of our suffering and difficulties. It is the joy, and the peace that goes with it, that the world cannot give. It only comes from God!

Fr. Cimagala is the chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE), Talamban, Cebu City. E-mail him at roycimagala@gmail. com.