The ‘Wrong’ way to celebrate Christmas

Ricardo Saludo

Ricardo Saludo

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.
— The Gospel of Saint John, 1:9-11

What’s the right way to celebrate Christmas? Many will probably rattle off the usual suspects, so to speak: attending Mass, preferably at midnight; giving gifts, especially to the poor and needy; and bringing the family together at noche buena dinner or Christmas day lunch.

All those are certainly right ways to mark the birth of our Lord in the little town of Bethlehem 2,016 years ago.

They express and affirm the values of faith, hope, charity, and family, epitomized in the Nativity. We pray, we care, and we come together in love. What better way to celebrate Christmas, right?

Away in a manger

Yet something may be missing in all those well-worn ways of cherishing Christ’s coming into the world: the manger.

No, not the traditional belen which churches and Christian homes may display for the faithful’s edification and devotion. Rather, our usual ways of cherishing the birth of God’s Son may fail to share one fundamental part of what the Holy Family and God Himself went through on the first Christmas: discomfort.

Instead of spending the night, not to mention giving birth, in a comfortable room at a proper dwelling, Joseph had to let Mary bring forth the Savior of the world in the midst of animals in a manger. Lofty humanity has to spend the night among unspeaking, unthinking, unloving, and unbelieving beasts.

And infinitely more out of His comfort zone, the Creator and Master of the universe, the Son of the Living God, the Eternal Word through Whom everything came to be, entered our fallen world, leaving the infinite bliss, purity and power of heaven to embrace the pain, grime, and helplessness of earth.

Even worse, as the Gospel reading in the daytime Catholic mass recounts, “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”

The God Whose image is imprinted in us, and Who brought us forth from nothingness, we reject. To Him with Whom we should be most comfortable and Whom we should be most eager to welcome, we close the door of the fully booked inn.

Can one get more uncomfortable and uncomforting than that?

Actually, yes. Being from Bethlehem, Joseph should have found relatives to host his family, at least for a night, especially with Mary heavy with child and due to give birth. So why did the Holy Family have to look for an inn?

One explanation is that word got around about Mary becoming pregnant before she and Joseph lived together as husband and wife. And no righteous self-respecting Jewish family would allow such a woman to enter and stain their home.

The Immaculate Ever-Virgin Mother of God spurned by relations repelled by her seeming ill-repute, prefiguring her own Son’s future rejection by the Jews, who saw unforgivable affronts to the law and the Lord God in Jesus’s message that His Father sent Him into the world to redeem us. The self-righteous eschew the Author and Judge of what is right and just.

Get out of your comfort zone

Hence, to celebrate and share the fullness of Christmas, complete with its divinely ordained and embraced discomforts, we have to get out of our comfort zones and do what may seem wrong for the season.

Like mortification. Fasting and other penances are usually saved for Lent and Holy Week, so doing it at Christmas is not only uncomfortable and unseasonal, but certainly in line with the privations endured by Jesus, Mary and Joseph on the first Noel.

And prayer, too: How about reciting the 14 Stations of the Cross? People may look and wonder if one has got the months mixed up, as you genuflect, reflect, and pray before the images of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. But the Lord above shall smile and bless.

After all, as early as His birth, the myrrh for funeral anointing, given by the Magi, and the Holy Family’s flight from Herod’s murderous troops already pointed at His agonies at 33. So why not remember the wood of Cross amid the grass of the manger?

Are you uncomfortable yet? Keep going.

Reading Scripture isn’t something done before feasting on the ham, bibingka, tsokolate, and queso de bola at noche buena, but why not? Especially if one’s family wishes to share the Holy Family’s discomfort, and read and reflect on it, too.

Not to mention hearing God’s inspired Word to relive and deepen our faith in His begotten Word. If anything, those uncomfortable minutes of reading before repast should bring the greatest comfort of all: cherishing that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Now if you’ve got the family to accept the discomfort of listening to God in Holy Scripture before any table banter, why not go the whole hog and do what the innkeeper didn’t: let someone who has no roof over his or her head at Christmas share your residence and repast for a night? If that makes the family queasy, that’s the first step to true holiness.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable way to celebrate Christmas, one that is reprised in many a Yuletide movie, even in the rollicking “Home Alone,” is forgiveness and reconciliation.

Bringing together those long separated by hurt, dispute, mistrust, and other wrongs — that is the Christmas discomfort that most pleases our Lord, the greatest birthday gift we can offer, and the best way to fulfill the saving mission of forgiving our sins, for which He was born.



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  1. Merry Christmas Sec, Salud,

    Christmas day was on spring/summer days can`t be on winter months. Why? their`s no flock out side on cold winter days they`re all inside the barn.

  2. To me, the word is not discomfort, but rather, it is, actually, suffering. Since day one: birth, up to His life, until His death on the cross, the Lord has suffered. Get out of your comfort zone you say, thats right and coupled with suffering, who says life is easy. What we have indeed is a life full of suffering.

  3. 26 Dec ’16

    I was watching the late night news and caught those people, families being interviewed. They spent the Dec 25 in in ferry boat harbour because trips were cancelled due to typhoon.

    “Hindi man lang namin naramdaman yung pasko ” (we didn’t even feel Christmas!) one quips. This made me ponder, myself included back in those days. I would say and feel the same.

    To miss the “It’s the hap- happiest season of all” as the song goes about Christmas is truly saddening. As It was supposedly holiday time spent with love ones at home for good reason.

    But something will change one’s view if Jesus enters the heart. Can I just put it the short statement below?

    Unless one realizes that Christmas is a *State of one’s heart in CHRIST*, Not a date on a calendar, Nor tradition, Nor a yearly holiday. Family reunion perhaps. Then it is futile!

    Like those Scribes and Pharisees in Jesus time. They failed big time to see who Jesus really was! Their focus are on the temporal not the eternal.

    Dec 25 is not Jesus’s date of birth, if He wanted it known, it should have been written in His Words – the Holy Bible.

    But if we commemorate Jesus birth in spirit and in truth, then the dates, time and place doesn’t matter.

    In fact, Everyday is Christmas! For everyone that is in Him. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matt 6:10

    May *CHRIST* inhabit all hearts, then the MERRY greetings we say is more meaningful and true.

    Heavenward in Jesus!?

  4. Mary is never called the “Mother of God” in the Bible. For her to be such, she would have to exist before God. God existed before Mary was born! “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (PSALM 90:2). Man did not create God; God created man! “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (GENESIS 2:7). Therefore, it is illogical to call a human being the “mother of divinity.”

    The divinity of Jesus existed before Mary was born. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (JESUS) was in the beginning with God (GOD THE FATHER). All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (JOHN 1:1-3). “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us” (JOHN 1:14). Notice carefully that the Word was with God in the beginning, before Mary was ever born? The Word, which existed before the world was created (HEBREWS 1:1-3, 10-11), became flesh, not divinity; for Christ was divine already! Therefore, it is ludicrous to call a created woman the mother of ‘the Creator.’

    Mary was born after Abraham had died (GENESIS 25:7-8). Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (JOHN 8:58). Therefore, it is impossible for Mary to be the “Mother of God.” It was not the Deity of Jesus Christ that Mary conceived in her womb, but His human nature. Jesus said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh” (JOHN 3:6). “The Word became flesh” (JOHN 1:14).

    In the Bible, we read that “the Christ was the son of David” (MATTHEW 22:42-45). Does this mean that David was the “Father of God?” The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ descended from David according to the flesh (ROMANS 1:3). But Jesus was also “The Lord of David” (PSALMS 110:1; MATTHEW 22:43-45; ACTS 2:34). Jesus asked the Jews, “If David thus calls Him Lord, how is He his son?” The Jews did not want to answer this question! But the correct answer is this: In the flesh, Christ was the descendant of David; but as God, He was David’s Lord!

    Jesus, as God, has no mother (HEBREWS 7:3); and as a man, He has no human father (MATTHEW 1:18)!

  5. Sir Saludo. A blessed Christmas po!
    Una po, hindi po iyan gospel ni St. John. Rather, Gospel of the Christ by St. John. Si Kristo po ang nagdala ng gospel (good news) sa mundo.
    Next po. Kaya sa kulungan ng mga hayop Siya ipinanganak ay dahil metaphorically, He is the sacrificial Lamb of God. St. John the Baptizer said to his disciples, “Bethold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29, 36. Also, metaphorically, He is the “door of the sheep . . . by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved” John 1:7, 9. And metaphorically again, He is mankind’s good Shepherd, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” John 1:11. As the Christ spoke in parables during His 3 1/2 preaching years, the Holy Bible should also be taken by its deeper message, the metaphors, the parallels, analogies, etc.
    Isa pa po. Animals are not unthinking. Refer to the Book of Job 12:7-9 which starts with, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; . . . the hand of the LORD has wrought this?” Stripped of material wealth and suffering the loss of all his 10 children, boil-laden Job is saying that all of creation know that every suffering also comes from the Creator.
    Suggestion lang po. How about doing some research on Dec 25 as the Savior’s birthday. What emperor was there to demand time for “registration” or “taxation” during a winter season? It snows in the land of Israel, then and now Wasn’t transportation nil then? Shepherds feeding their flocks in the snow-filled fields until midnight? Whose birthday really is Dec 25th? Maraming salamat po.