by: Rev. Fr. William Sedaria

In the Philippines, as it is in many places in the world, Christmas season is often called “holidays”. Quite often, too, people take holidays to mean fun-filled family reunions or bondings, left and right parties, stay-cations and leisure. But the first Christmas was far from what people today mean by the word “holidays”.

 The first Christmas came upon Joseph and Mary while they were traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They were to register in the city of David as required by the oppressive regime of the Roman emperor. Mary was heavy with Child. It was in Bethlehem when the days of her confinement ended. She delivered her Baby, Jesus Christ the Lord. Joseph, like any loving husband, wanted to provide Mary a decent and safe place to give birth. Joseph, a good father he was, wanted to welcome his Son in a warm and clean delivery room. But there was no room for them at the inn. Mary had to deliver her Boy in a stable, wrap Him in swaddling clothes, and lay Him in a manger. Joseph himself had to attend to the needs of both mother and Child. Their companions were the beasts of the field. It was certainly not a holiday for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Their Christmas was indeed remote from the holidays we are soon to have in a couple of weeks’ time. But theirs was the real holiday. The Christmas of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph was truly a holy day.


 It is sad to note that holidays have become almost exclusively synonymous with fun, vacation, and leisure. There is nothing wrong with clean fun, much-needed vacation, and temperate leisure. But they are not necessarily what holidays mean. A holiday is a holy day. Holidays should primarily mean a day of holiness.


 If we spend Christmas holidays only with fun, vacation, and leisure, we do great injustice to the real spirit of the season. Let us focus our selves on being holy as we celebrate the holidays. As early as today, barely four weeks shy from Christmas day, let us heed the invitation of Jesus: “Come to Me…shoulder My yoke…learn from Me…find rest for your souls.”


As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, may embrace the joy found in the birth of Immanuel—God with us.

 Happy Holidays! Be happy. Be holy. Always put in us a Holy Heart, O Lord. Amen and amen.