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Opinion

Christmas is for children

- Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

Simbang gabi or dawn masses are now also being celebrated in the afternoon or evening before its scheduled day starting December 16. Of course there is nothing wrong with such practice. Indeed, the time of the day is immaterial in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But I still prefer the traditional way celebrating it at dawn because it seems to be more in keeping with the theme of advent. Advent is a time to be vigilant, to be watchful and to be alert as St. Luke says in his gospel, “What I say to you I say to all, watch..” (21:34). This is a gospel message specifically addressed to us who tend to be “drowsy and to seek comfort.” And there is no time for us to be watchful and to be alert than in the wee hours of the morning when we are still somewhat slumbering in the comforts of our bed. The dawn masses are undoubtedly a very effective antidote to our drowsiness and comfort-seeking ways.

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Too often, it has also been said that Christmas is for children. And there is really some truth to this. But “children” here should refer not only to our own or to those of our relatives and close friends for whom we usually drain our pockets to buy them something that will light up their faces at Christmas time. It may really give us a tremendous feeling of joy to see them so happy on Christmas Day. Yet the glow in their faces does not somehow make our celebration complete as we plod through traffic and notice the increasing number of waifs roaming the streets and begging for alms while singing “joy to the world.” Rain or shine, they peer through car windows in the hope that they will be able to tug the hearts of kindhearted motorists. Of course such scenery is already present throughout the year. But somehow it has more impact at this time for it gives us a feeling of incompleteness in our Christmas celebration.

Somehow we feel that these children don’t deserve to be in such dangerous and unhealthy places.  Fending for themselves in the streets without care of parents or guardians definitely hampers their normal development and threatens or endangers their very survival. They deserve normal lives like what our children enjoy.

To be sure, there is already a law (R.A. 7610) which requires the State to protect these children and improve their living conditions. In fact, their parents may also be liable and prosecuted for child abuse under certain circumstances. Sad to say however, this law seems to be taken for granted as shown by the increase of street children especially during Christmas time. This is indeed a tangible indication that this law providing for special protection of children against child abuse and exploitation appears to be ineffective or is not being faithfully implemented.  Our government should give more attention to these children who are unable to take care of themselves. The recent photo of PNoy tightly embracing a child may be an encouraging sign in this regard. Let’s just hope it is not merely another photo-op for PR purposes.

This regular increase in number of street children during Christmas time appears to send a message from Christ Himself. He is telling us that  every child on our streets is an image of the Christ child lying in the manger; that as we neglect and abuse them we are actually neglecting the Christ child in the manger; that it is not enough for us to just help these children during Christmas time by giving them alms and material assistance but forget them the rest of the year; that we should also help in getting them off the streets permanently by giving them a more special care and attention in whatever way we can so that in the coming Christmases they will live a more normal life like our children. In other words, the plight of the street children should also be our concern and not only of the government.

Another angle showing that Christmas is really for children can be seen from their traits and attitudes. We all know that children do not have any feeling of self sufficiency. They are always dependent on somebody else for their needs, primarily on their parents or guardians. And in their utter feeling of helplessness they entrust themselves completely under the care of their parents in utmost confidence. Children also do not entertain negative thoughts about others; that others do not mean them harm. Their  intentions are usually pure.  Moreover they live for the present and do not look nervously at the future. They are disposed to learning new things and to be taught. They dare ask for anything because to them nothing is impossible. They do not care what others think about them. Simplicity, innocence, humility, docility and total faith are their traits and attitudes. These are the traits that create ample room  in their hearts for Christ child. Maybe as adults what need is to be like children; to be children at heart so that the Christ child will also have room in our entire being.  Indeed this is the real meeting of the expression that Christmas is for children.  

Christmas is truly “a reason to be grateful for the blessings we receive. A reason to have faith and trust in our gracious Lord above. A reason to be joyful, to believe, to be filled with Hope and Love.”

And so, allow me to also use my favorite expression say to all “Nasa  katwiran ang Pasko, kaya Ito at ipaglaban mo!”

A blessed and merry Christmas to all!

E-mail: attyjosesison@gmail.com

 

BUT I CHILD CHILDREN CHRIST HIMSELF CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS DAY HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS HOPE AND LOVE TIME
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