Monday, December 25, 2006
Seasons of Celebrations
How can agnostic and atheists thrive in the Philippines when our churches burst at the seams on Christmas Day and are jam-packed on all Sundays of the years?
For those who lack the imagination to conceive God, including the arrogant ones who dismiss His existence, the soil here is simply too arid and the environment demoralizing.
Most agnostic are boring and atheist are loners. To agnostics and atheist, there’s nothing to believe but disbelief. It’s like the mind hits dead end, an impossible scenario for Filipinos in whose veins run the charism (transcendent) of Christianity and the mysticism (magical) of orientals. Filipinos best understand the spirit of Christmas. The Philippines is the only country on earth where Christmas is an exuberance enjoyed longer than any feast.
If you are a Filipino visiting Europe, the strange experience you’ll encounter is the eerie feeling of empty churches in European cities. To think that it was Christianity that was mainly responsible for the creation of Europe’s culture starting at the dawn of the middle age. It was Catholicism that established great universities, promoted and patronized great work of arts; build great cathedrals and buildings exemplifying architectural and engineering excellence.
Today its thousands of Filipino expats who are filling those empty European churches, forming a congregation that resounds with prayers, songs, liturgies and worship. Perhaps the agnostics and atheists in Europe, who are aplenty, find churches filled with Filipinos an object of curiosity or derision. What they can’t see are God’s mysteries comprehensive only through faith, which Filipino have. For Filipinos God’s love is there inside the church in actually and continuity, which began in a cold cave in Bethlehem.
God the creator is also superb communicator. He knows our human nature to respond readily to ideas by using heart and mind.
Christmas is the miracle that only a religion of love can offer to mankind as fresh and appealing as it presented itself to all mankind two thousand years ago. Again and again the whole world celebrates Christmas as the universal symbol for peace and goodwill, exactly as the angels announced in Bethlehem.
“Peace on earth, good will to men” This call for universal peace and happiness is the perfect answer for man’s frustration on his earthy imperfection. We needed Jesus to be born so that we can free from the fear of unknown. We needed an authentic and original teacher to spare us the indignity of ignorance and the absurdity of errors caused by myths and superstitions of old, and the self-destructing philosophies of bourgeoisie opulence in our modern world.
The big bullies of atheism, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, have long been dead and communism was a colossal failure as godless socioeconomic philosophy yet world peace is elusive as ever. Today our life’s safety is shattered by a new evil called global terrorism, a bizarre form of war triggered by racial hatred and religious bigotry victimizing innocent people.
Our need to keep going back to the babe in Bethlehem becomes more profound as the world plunges itself into a crisis, a crisis called by the late Pope John Paul II as the “culture of death.”
Contemporary technologies make a big breakthroughs one after the other, causing big changes in the way people live and think. Information technology empowers people in controlling their material destinies at the risk of compromising the spiritual and moral.
The digital age reveals a resurgence of egoism, individualism, and relativism, deadly sins of the intellect and the cause of disagreement with the moral law, the law that reflects God’s truth.
It is any wonder that after God gave us the gift of life, He then gave us a gift of love – a baby in the manger. Babies are our instinctive and instantaneous objects of love.
Filipino knows the kind of love. They can feel it and give it.
It’s never too late for agnostics and atheists to receive and give love. Like humble shepherds or wise Magis they can call on the same Jesus in Bethlehem now present in the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. They are most welcome.