Christmas Day (B)
December 25, 2011

Readings: Is 52:7-10 / Heb 1:1-6 / Jn 1:1-5.9-14

One original Pinoy product is the brand of therapeutic and casual footwear called "Happy Feet." It had humble beginnings that all started with a visit to a foot doctor in Germany, to alleviate a foot malady of a family member. It became a by-word in no time, and actually attained a level of popularity for some time. Although I never got to own even one, I was quietly admiring the growing product line, along with the fact that it had gone mainstream for a great many years by now.

I couldn't help but think of feet today, the second holiest day of the Christian calendar. I couldn't help but think of feet, for that matter, for a number of reasons: First, I am aware that fellow "kababayan" Romy Garduce (of Everest fame!) is still aiming at completing the world's mythical seven mountains, with just one more mountain to go. Not bad for one who hails from the tropics, and who actually "hated" his first climb at Nagcarlan, Laguna years ago! Second, I dream of "feet" on the march because I have canceled a would-be climb to Mt Pulag after Christmas for two reasons, the first being the fact that it has been raining up there in the north for days, and second, the twin tragedy at Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, has sort of put this expensive trek in the back burner to give way to more much needed help to those who are still reeling from the painful shock that left thousands dazed and despondent, just a few days before Christmas.

But I think of feet for another reason. The nerve wracking images and videos of people in the tragedy-hit areas, all walking bare footed, and many with wrinkled feet soaked in water for days now, have left me in tears so many days in a row, including this morning just when I was thinking about what to share with you on this day. I think of feet rendered less "happy" because tragedy struck just when no one suspected it would in the dead of night. I think of feet who will never walk again. I think of feet who continue to plod on, strive and struggle in the midst of so much pain, so much discomfort, and so much uncertainty. I think of people whose feet no longer show alacrity for they have not much choice as to where to go, paralyzed not just by instant absolute poverty, but also by the lack of energy and resolve to pick up the pieces of lives that have been shattered by pain of unimaginable proportions.

But I also think of feet who rise to the occasion, and who get into action mode, bringing a lot that can help those who walk bare foot and directionless to gradually rise again like the Phoenix from the ashes - or the muddy, soggy, and water-laden thoroughfares rendered almost impassable by murk and mire. I think of a group of psychologists and counselors, who are as fleet-footed as those who lost no time collecting whatever they could to run to the aid of the needy, who, were just like us just a few days before, dreaming of distant "white Christmases" even in tropical Paradise-no-more, that is Mindanao!

My thoughts race to people who, either by duty or by choice, are there to help salvage what could be salvaged, to help turn around a life that has been so drastically redirected to destinations unwanted, undreamed of, and definitely, unsought for. My heart goes out to those whose feet are as active as marathon runners, now trying to race with might and main to help put back normalcy in the lives of those whose normal routines were just like ours, until disaster struck.

Yes, I think about happy feet, but not the kind that one would like to have and wear ... I think of people whose lives attain a fresh shot of happiness and fulfillment because of one simple reason ... they are busy giving evangelical good news to those who live in the shadow of death, and who are, like all the rest of us, waiting for the light to shine upon all those who dwell in darkness. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation and saying to Zion, ' Your God is King!'"

Yes, Santa Claus ... you are not the focus of this talk, neither of this day, and neither of everyone now whose feet are busy, not riding sleighs and rough-housing reindeer, but bringing the good news of hope to those who more than just live in the shadow of death and despair.

Happy are the feet of those who now try to live simply so that others may simply live. Happy are the feet of those who lift more than just a finger, but their both feet, to do what one ought, one must, and one needs to, given the harrowing context that surround the people who don't ever deserve to suffer.

Yes, and this is the good news that should take the upper hand today ... "The Lord comforts His people, he redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations" ...

I have one request to my readers, both near and far. I don't ask you to get of your butts and do something. I don't ask you to lift a finger and help make today and everyday like Christmas. I ask to lift your feet, and move, following the footsteps of him who was born, for us, for the world, for here, for now, and for a world without end. I ask you to put on "happy feet" - and when I say this, I don't mean to say, wear something fancy and something nice, like sugar and spice and everything nice, but go, take the necessary steps, and do something .... anything, any little or big thing, but something that would make Christmas a reality for you and me and everyone who needs a fresh shot of a reminder even in the midst of so much pain and suffering ... "All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God!"

It is Christmas Day ... the day the Word took on flesh, was born, and became helpless like so many now are, in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and elsewhere. The Word became real and came in our midst ... up close and personal. Truly. Really. He is not just one of those distant and remote possibilities, but He is truly, Emmanuel ... God with us.  "Let all the angels of God worship Him!"