Cause celebre


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — No day of the year is as celebrated. No cause is as remembered world-wide. No event is as controversial as Christmas Day and the Yuletide Tidings.

No matter what, the Sillimanians in Sydney could not wait for the 25th of December to celebrate the day. We already welcomed the glad tidings last 4th of December at the Garcia Home in Casula, Sydney.

Engr. Enrico “Toto” and Lily Garcia played the perfect hosts to our early Christmas celebration. As a group, the SU Sydney Chapter brought to the table lechon carajay. Arnie Capilitan added kinilaw, while Joy Torrevillas pitched in bico, giving a Phillippine air to the merrymaking.

Adobo was served, too. If they were to have their way, Toto and Lily might have served Bais pusit and Tanjay budbod, too. Bayawan bayebaye could have been the dessert to enjoy. We had something better with Leonora “Inday” Cabanag’s crema de fruta— a treat we relished with gusto.

Mr. Kodaker of the SU Sydney Chapter Clarence “Bobby” Cabanag posted promptly frozen frames of the celebration with the first frame collaged for SU President Ben Malayang III’s Christmas message. “May Christ continue to thrive in your homes, and may you continue to breathe life into others as God’s instrument of grace to all! From…our campus by the sea, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

There’s the reason. There’s the cause why we celebrate Christmas. God’s grace. Sweet Baby Jesus. God’s Word made flesh. God’s Love displayed to lift man up from his wretchedness. Immanuel has stepped down from Heaven to be with us, to be one of us.

Born on a manger, surrounded by sheep and shepherds. Grew to be a carpenter and a Teacher of the fishers of men, not a warrior to be King of Kings to set free the Israelites from under Roman oppression.

Jesus told his disciples “you will be known as my followers if you love one another” as their small band pursued the ministry of healing to which disillusioned the Pharisees and Sadducees who rejected the Messiah.

Could not imagine Love as the weapon to subdue the Romans. Hard to imagine for Love to be the means to establish Peace on Earth and Goodwill among men. Hard to accept the concept even now as it was then. The old world then as the culture now is in mode-denial of love, joy, peace…the fruits of the spirit.

Dumaguete City is in dark forebodings. Gang wars on city streets are growing to be a menace. The hostility has claimed two teenage casualties. Fear grips the air.

Just like the Phillippines and other Asian countries feeling the shivers of a North-South Korean war. Being a proxy war, it will easily develop into a grand-scale confrontation of their superpower allies in a mutual nuclear annihilation.

Fear-driven, airport authorities in the USA subject passengers to full body radiation scan and humiliating pat down in an attempt to seek out terrorists from getting into the country. The effort to get in control seems to be in vain as Wikileaks exposed the seamy side of American diplomacy opening a new arena of mental engagement in cyberspace.

A cyber war has ensued between Wikileaks supporters who hail its founder Julian Assange as a hero and fighter for the freedom of expression, and those who condemn him as a terrorist and fugitive of a sex abuse charge in Switzerland. Where is the love? Paranoia prevails.

Broiling in hot spots of the world like Afghanistan and Palestine, man persists in wickedness. He lives by the sword and headed to perish by the sword.

Just like yesteryears when the Romans ruled Israel by the sword, the chosen people waited for the Messiah to deliver them from their bondage. They expected a Messiah to lead them to meet force with force and fight violence with violence. Power was their motive force — power to mutilate or annihilate the hated enemies.

Given by Pilate the choice to either set free Jesus or Barabbas, they chose Barabbas, quite symbolic for man’s preference to hate and destroy rather than to love and heal.

Techno-man with far potent weapons of mass destruction hugs the vicious cycle in deathly embrace. Where is the Servant King who washed Peter’s feet of clay?

Materially-bound, we are distracted from the real meaning of Christmas. With the gift-giving come-on, we succumb to its crash commercialization. We pay more attention to the pagan symbols of the celebration — Christmas tree and kissing under the mistletoe. Even Santa Claus has supplanted the Baby Jesus in prominence especially in commercial establishments’ Yuletide displays.

While Christmas has become Xmas as pluralism makes much ado of 25th of December as a pagan celebration.

As we lean more on our own understanding, we tend to be multi-culturally sensitive. Even believers are wont to be more politically correct by submitting to the idea that Christmas is just another human holiday while unknowingly succumbing to the wiles, not of flesh and blood, but of the rulers of darkness.

Downhill-bent, we are missing the real reason for the season — the cause we are to uphold during the christmas season. That God is taking the initiative to redeem fallen man from alienation. That God is love. That Jesus is God’s Love displayed. That there is an urgent need to establish a loving relationship with Him before we can ever establish a loving relationship with each other.

The real message of Christmas is Love to uphold peace and good will among men.

Like Peter, we are in denial mode. Unlike Peter, we are yet to make our turn-around. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Gloria in excelsis deo.

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