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Monday, December 27, 2010

Shadow of the Christmas

“The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. The scripture describes Him as "the Lamb slain as it were, from the beginning of the world." He was slain in intention by the first sin and rebellion against God. It was not so much that His birth cast a shadow on His life and thus led to His death; it was rather that the Cross was first, and cast its shadow back to His birth. His has been the only life in the world that was ever lived backward. As the flower in the crannied wall tells the poet of nature, and as the atom is the miniature of the solar system, so too, His birth tells the mystery of the gibbet. He went from the known to the known, from the reason of His coming manifested by His name "Jesus" or "Savior" to the fulfillment of His coming, namely, His death on the Cross.”
Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

We hear sweet carols, we see pine trees, silvery decorations and shimmering lights, busy shopping malls and traffic congestions…it’s the festive season, its Christmas…more accurately the “commercialized Xmas” (where CHRIST is, more often than not, removed [replaced with an ‘X’] and conveniently forgotten in this season of merry making)

The unwelcomed Babe of Bethlehem; the harking of heralding angels and the simple poor shepherds watching their flock in the quiet of the night are simply forgotten; true reminders of the birth of Christ and the purpose of His coming.

The words of Bishop Fulton Sheen calls us to pause and reflect on the silhouette of the CROSS overshadowing the manger below the Bethlehem star. Where there is no room in the inn (our hearts), let us make room…

More often than not, the “noise” of the season has caused us to forget that the Savior came to fulfill the will of our Father, not to live but to die, that all mankind everywhere might gain eternal life. This is the true reason for the season. This is why the holy day of Christmas is ranked second to Easter in the Roman calendar. Lent which begins with Ash Wednesday is but a few weeks away, in early March 2011, climaxing with the celebration of Easter; new life, the resurrection, the only HOPE that sustains us in our journey.

During Christmas, we are radically reminded of the preciousness, yet fragility of life. What is life? It is like a vapor, which is dispersed by a breath of wind and is no more. We all know that we must die but many are deceived by picturing to themselves death at such a distance as if it could never come near to us.

We must be still to be aware, to be conscious, to be mindful that the life of all mankind is short. Life is like the life of a blade of grass. Death comes, the grass withers and life ends, and the flower falls of all greatness and all worldly goods and possessions. We suddenly become no more. In every step, in every breath we draw, we approach nearer to our earthly death.

How often we hear of people, while they are busy with worldly pursuits are surprised by death, which cut short of everything else. All the things of this world vanish – the possessions, the power, the title, the rank, the grandeurs, the amusements, the entertainment and most of all, the noise of the world. The most enviable fortune, the most valuable possessions, the biggest stashed away wealth, the most exalted of worldly titles loses their splendor when they are viewed from the bed of death. We will come to know which of this happiness are true and false when we are about to draw our last breath – come too late?

Like Jesus Christ, we must be aware this Christmas season, that we are all born to die. The proper time to prepare for the hour of death is during this life, during this pilgrimage back home. Time is too short so let us act on those things that will truly matter to bring about our eternal life. We must take time to be quiet, be still, to simplify our life.

At the end of the day, we are all pilgrims here on earth so we must help each other by offering our companionship to lighten the burden and brighten the path of each other’s journey back home. That way, our Christmas will become much more meaningful and like Christ, we will rise up on the last day in Paradise.

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