There were Christmas seasons in the Philippines when prices of commodities were high, typhoons and flooding were successive, safety and security were extreme concerns, and troubling social and political issues seem lasting. And yet the days and the nights of joyful anticipations leading to the 24th of midnight, and even beyond it, never wavered. I guess it is because Christmas brings out the very best in each and every one of us. And what we bring out, we don’t only show. Rather, we let go, we share. Thus enriching, calming, and filling what is lacking around us. Christmas is the season when hope is raised high, faith is intensified, and generosity is extended. Gift-giving is indiscriminate. It is for everyone, rich and poor, young and old. It is for anyone believing that the one giving is more precious than the gift...and that any gift is as precious as the one wished for. Indeed children everywhere and the child in every one of us would always wish that this would never end. We all want to be blissful every once in a while. And every now and then it is in our nature to want to celebrate it together. And Christmas is it - togetherness. However, more than the great feelings of joy elaborated by familiar songs and sang in endless parties under twinkling colorful lights, the season reminds us of the greatest gift of all packaged in the simplest gift-wrap - the humility of the God turned man. We receive in this season something that has nothing more superlative to it. The wait is over.

The Emmanuel, the God is now with us. It is the Chief's supreme act of reconnecting with inferiors...and of promising them a gift and a share of an abundance this world has never seen. Hence, we are invited to partake of this abundance, to be one in this mystery and to share, too, in giving. Christmas then should be the season of selfless giving, of sharing all and not holding anything back. Because it is when we have emptied ourselves and have given it all - filled those who have none, filled those who have little, filled those who have never had that we realize that we truly possess so much more than we thought we had. It is when we continue to give that we are surprised to find out that we actually have so many things that we possess! And the mystery of it all is that by doing so, we are further enriched. Christmas then should be the season of enriching ourselves! Not by expecting. Not by receiving. Not by keeping gifts. But by giving and sharing them all...specifically, those material things that we believe are the most valuable and those that define and up to our status in the community. Our relationship is what defines us.

The real wealth in this world lies in our caring relationships with our family, friends, neighbors, etc. Gift-giving in Christmas is supposed to bring us together, connects us with each other and let us experience the joy of togetherness. It is when our happiness is not dependent on valuing any material things that we can truly connect with everyone...and experience the joy of togetherness. Christmas is the grandest evidence of God's faithfulness to his promise. He will send a saviour! And He did....at the most perfect time. God staged it in the most humble way...the king of all kings in a manger - the most perfect place. Christ's birth is God's grandest and gift of love to all of us in the most simple, sincere and humble way. And this is Christmas. This is what it ought to be. It is the mystery of simplicity, of humility, of sincerity and of the greatest love of all. We are invited to celebrate the season with such - no more and no less...simple, humble, sincere and with great love to all. I guess it is only then can we claim the great abundance of the season. And this is the real Christmas gift. Christ be with you all...

Rev. Fr. Arthur B. Dingel, O.P.
Rector and President