By J. Pampio A. Abarintos
Christmas is not a
time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and
goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of
Christmas. – Calvin Coolidge
joyful tidings inside a Christmas card do not easily translate into
reality. Though Christmas surely is a time for loving, sharing,
giving, laughing and merry-making, the state of affairs that we have
seems too far a cry from the true message of Christmas. I
should know, for otherwise, I would be out of a job as a magistrate
if all is well with the world. Left and right, we face judicial
battles involving skirmishes between labor and capital, husband and
wife, family members, corporations, politicians … indeed, the
woes of practically all walks of life are severely fought in the
legal squabbles that figure in our courts. And these are just
the documented ones.
is a no peace in Iraq, nor anywhere in the Middles East. Even
our beloved Philippines is not spared from unrest in the south and
the bloody rampages of terrorism. Poverty strikes third world
countries with more vengeance than ever. Many have died and are
dying of AIDS and other life-threatening maladies. Substance
abuse and alcoholism have taken its toll on the youth. Women
and children are abused no end. Criminality is at its
high. The earth is reeling from the powerful tirades of Mother
Nature as she unleashes hurricanes, landslides, droughts, earthquakes
and one other catastrophe after another. Global warming spells
the advent of doomsday. The list goes on.
me for sounding like a messenger of gloom and misery –
almost akin to the grinch who stole Christmas. But I feel it is
necessary for our eyes to be wide open to the plight of humanity
before we can genuinely relish the gift that is Christ.
the Prince of Peace never had it easy. Born in swaddling
clothes in a filthy manger with barn animals as witnesses was
not at all idyllic. His adult life was no walk in the park
either, as he endured endless persecutions from malevolently
jealous quarters. Tortured, insulted, eventually nailed to the
cross, his passion spilled over for all the world to
accept or disdain at its will – a fate none of us would
ever wish to befall upon our loved ones. Yet at that crucial
point in history, our redemption was won.
is why I so love Christmas. Without it, there would be no
passion, no crucifixion, and no resurrection of our Savior.
Because of Christmas, parched souls and uninspired hearts rejuvenated
with renewed hope and vigor. Everyone is welcome to partake of
the dawning of joy, kindness, virtue and everything that is good,
in the wake of the long-drawn cold nights of despair and
our world is far from perfect, but Christmas has its way of weaving a
miraculous spell over all things, suddenly making them gentler, more
peaceful, even glorious. We cannot change the world, but
we can always change the way we see it. In every war, there is
the opportunity for mending broken fences and building more
harmonious relations. In the midst of poverty and disease, the
human spirit is forged even stronger in the fire of adversity.
Misfortune makes even the most mundane delightfully precious.
Calamities urge us to bend our knees and raise our heads to the
heavens - something we frequently forget to do when days are sunny
and just the way they should be.
my younger years, Christmas had always been the season of presents,
parties, greetings, and merry-making. Fast-forward to the
present, as the husband, father and public servant that I have
become, Christmas has evolved into a more complicated affair.
Truly, as one grows older, Christmas deepens into a spiritual
journey, not just of receiving, but most especially of giving.
My most memorable Christmas was the one I spent with prison inmates
in Bais City. No, I was not incarcerated or anything of that
sort. Simply, in a moment of amazing inspiration, I decided to
share my Christmas bonus, as Regional Trial Court judge there, by
treating the prisoners to a simple Christmas party.
Unexpectedly, I ended up being the one abundantly blessed in return,
for giving liberates the psyche of the giver. Every year, I try
to replicate that fulfilling experience by giving humble packages on
Christmas day. Once, a snapshot of my house on Christmas day
was published in a daily newspaper in Cebu. Apparently, the
photographer found the rather long line of people leading to our
doorstep waiting in turn to receive their “pamasko,”
a sight befitting the human interest pages. I have no
intention of boasting nor have I anything to be particularly proud
of, as there was nothing special, grand nor ostentatious in the
“pamasko” packages that we gave. I believe
however, that it was the thought behind the gifts that made the
picture worth publishing.
are ordinary mortals living ordinary lives. Acts of love and
kindness though, make ordinary mortals extraordinary. I am reminded
of the story of the homeless grubby boy who lived in the street.
One day, an old man sat with him, talked with him, shared with him
some bread and hot cocoa, and gave him new clothes. Unable to
contain his curiosity, the street boy asked in cheerful beweldirment,
“Mister, are you God?” True enough, earnest acts of
charity and concern can go a long way, and enable us ordinary mortals
to contribute to life’s everyday miracles as the children of
God that we indubitably are.
us also never forget the gift of loved ones, and the equally
valuable gift of time. Let us not waste even one minute with
specious follies and unimportant commitments. This Christmas
and everyday, may we have unadulterated quality time with the ones we
love - our spouse, our children, our family, our friends. To
borrow the wise words of Max Lucado: “A man can own the
world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing
and yet be wealthy in relationships.”
then should not be regarded as a time, date or season. Rather,
it should be a state of mind. I read somewhere that if
Christmas did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent it.
I wholeheartedly concur. In a subliminal level, we know that
Christmas visits the hearts of everyone without exception, every
single day. We experience Christmas when enemies reconcile,
when justice is served, when the hungry are fed, when couples get
married, when a good joke is shared, when children graduate, when
babies are born … Practically every blissful occasion
simulates the very first Christmas where our destiny as a blessed
people became stamped with finality. The first Christmas, too,
was a reminder that happiness comes not in the material richness of
the world, but in the radiance of faith and kindness of heart.
Not least, the first Christmas proved once and for all time, that the
human person can transcend difficult circumstances and accomplish
greatness not in the passing temporalities of this world, but in
spiritual possessions that really matter --- love, charity, humility,
sacrifice for a worthy cause. And it is up to us to do our
share in keeping the first Christmas alive every heartbeat of the
way, everyday. It is after all, a sate of mind.