Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Christmas : From Darkness to Light

The innkeepers probably lied to them. Their places are not yet fully occupied and probably there were still available room inside. But as businessmen, they would not dare to risk their potential monetary gains letting this bearded old man and his pregnant wife whose money are enough for their taxes, to stay because chances are, they would not be paid accordingly. When you, as an innkeeper, is so sure that they belong to the lower class and living, probably, in the slums of Nazareth. When you are certain that way back home, they mingle with the lepers, the poor and fish-stained peasants because they are one of them. So, you do not have any other choice but arrogantly drive them away. These kind of people are not worthy being your distinguished clients or guests.

The town of my birth,- San Jose, here in Occidental Mindoro, has this same dark side where business and political elites often neglect basic and immediate needs of the poor from our far-flung rural communities. But if you were in Mary’s sandals, would you consider Bethlehem and the first Christmas as merely a time of anguish and trial? Certainly it was. Nobody could carry her soon-to-be born son away in an inhospitable and business-oriented city and out to an animal stable without feeling a grief and poignant pressure.

It was indeed a stressful situation. No immediate relative or midwife who intervened between her and his child. But the discriminating Bethlehem in its darkest side, was utilized by God as the ideal birth place of the King of Kings. If Joseph and Mary were permitted inside one of the inns and she gave birth there, other occupants would surely interfere, perhaps throw a party or celebration but devoid of divine and solemn feeling of kingly adoration. Anyone’s birth at least deserves public attention. This way, baby Jesus will be snatched away from his mother and his foster father by false revelry and all of the birth’s temporal richness.

Compared to other progressive cities in the Philippines, San Jose is still a developing town. It can be likened not to a five-star hotel but to the nativity manger where Jesus was born. This town of ours, sans its dark socio-economic and political side, is the place where we should truly nurture hope especially this Christmas and the coming New Year. Because Pandurucan (my town’s old name) though as hideously desolate (in terms of buildings and skyscrapers) as the first Christmas’ stable, there is enough room for us to love this place more warmly, fully and richly. And this love would make this humble little town transcends from darkness to light.

We must learn from Mary who made up to baby Jesus despite the absence of all pre and post natal amenities in Bethlehem. Even our local political and business leaders repeatedly turn us away...

Merry Christmas to all!

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