MANGER-BORN, MAN-GOD, MIGRANT—
OR THE MEANING AND SUBSTANCE OF CHRIST’S MASS
By Aurelio Agcaoili, Ph.D.
(To be published as editorial, Fil-Am Observer, December 2007)
It is the season of the year that sings of good tidings, the songs drifting in the cool maintain and sea air and then getting into our lungs to give some freshness to our otherwise everyday lives.
It is the season of the year that remembers and forgets at the same time, its contradictions embedded in the way we have received the Mass of Christ as part of the rite of our lives coming in combos, like those monstrous burgers we call comfort food even if that is what we need the least.
The remembrance—our own act of remembering—comes in the fidelity to the chronology of the calendar that hangs on our unspeaking walls as if issuing out daily memos that remind us of the elastic possibilities of love and loving.
The remembrance—our own act of partaking in the social drama—comes in the arbitrariness of the gifts wrapped in the self-advertising colors of the season, with the abundance of reds and greens and that December flower in profusion to boot.
The remembrance—our own way of going through the same motions—is not remembrance because it is not one that makes us a “member again” but makes us act in earnest but the earnestness is palpably missing.
For to remember is to always “re-member”—to always become a member again: a member of a community of people who care, who are concerned, who are conscientious of what is happening not only to themselves but to other peoples, to other communities, to other selves.
What accounts for Christmas today is not what Christmas is supposed to be, this we must remind everyone today.
With commerce-men and profit ruling our drab lives, we make our lives drabber, our substance lost, our sense of meaning and worth equally lost.
The message of the event at the manger is the coming of the man-child who became Man-God who became the announcer of the good news of redemption.
That message has been lost in the cacophony that wakes us up in the morning and which is the same cacophony that makes us restless in the evening because the silence that fills our heart is not there in the heart but away from that which makes sense, away from that which is meaningful.
Even as we celebrate, we need to recall the million lives and limbs lost because of unjust wars everywhere, or because of rampant social injustices in our contemporary communities anywhere.
Even as we partake of the Christmas meal, we need to invoke abundance, recalling that there are many who have forgotten what a good meal looks like, much less how it is partaken of, with a family gathered in prayer and gratitude.
Even as we wrap our gifts, we recall those who have nothing because many of us have gotten everything, forgetting that the very act of possessing is the same act of dispossessing others.
Christmas—Christ’s Mass—is all this: back to square one. Back to where meaning counts, to our being migrants in this life and that we are all on our journey back to that homeland that awaits us with that message of plenitude of gift of soul and grace.
Happy holidays to all of you!