Christmas Day
December 25, 2014


Something one does four times in a row must really be important. A celebration done fourfold must be meaningful, more than important. Something one repeats, not thrice but quatrice (if the word exists!) must be so important, meaningful and significant to the hilt.

I am reminded of Sonnet 43 that begins with the question: “How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways!”

How does God love us? Let us not give an answer by counting. You count things you want to manage and control. You measure things you want to manipulate towards a certain finality. You lose count when you lose all interest and capacity to even fully understand in a human way what is really beyond words, beyond description, although definitely not beyond belief.

Christmas is beyond words. This maybe the reason why we count four distinct celebrations, each with distinct readings, that all have each a different focus. So let us count … one at the vigil, one at midnight, one at dawn, and another one for good measure, during the day! And the last one, mind you, does not top it off … No! … It just begins the 8-day period of splurging surpassed only by the Easter octave!

The angels must have splurged themselves, singing endless hosannas of praise, prodigally proclaiming praises for the even more prodigal God, who loves us in ways that man cannot keep track of, nor count.

The shepherds were co-opted into glorifying God. The stars, the animals in the stable, the wise men – all men and women of good will! Those who could see beyond what their eyes focused on … those who saw more than what their feeble senses could feast on … those who could count, and those who couldn’t even count their sheep, the learned and the unschooled, the proud and the humble, the mighty and the lowly, the rich and the poor, and those who, despite being rich, were wanting in every other way.

Christmas is the story of you and me and them … those who waited and those who were waited on … those who suffered and those who rejoiced … those who grieved and those who rejoiced … those who knew the Messiah was coming and those who chose to simply ignore their need for God. The desire of the everlasting hills has come!

We Filipinos just love to splurge on Christmas. Just look at the number of hours we spend in horrendous traffic! Just look at the number of times we bore the lines, trying to get back to the unmoving traffic faster than the others who are equally trying to come back home, harassed, half broke, tired, but happy all the same! We Filipinos don’t count anymore … at how much we lost trying to make hundreds of beggars happy with a few coins … at how much sleep time lost because we wanted to make the spiritual number 9 ( the number of days of simbang gabi).

The question on Christmas is not “how much do I love Thee,” but “how much does God love us?” And that question begins with doing something so repeatedly, without feeling bored, harassed, and half broke … 1,2,3, and 4! Four different liturgies on the day Christ the Lord was born!

Tonight (or this morning, or today) you have made it to one. Congratulations! But no! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will! Merry Christmas!