December 04, 2018
I dreamed of becoming a scientist when I was a kid. I was so serious in fulfilling this dream that I built my own little science lab with a small collection of tools and equipment for my experiments. One of the tools was a magnifying glass.
I loved my magnifying glass. I brought it with me everywhere and bragged about it to my friends. I enjoyed observing things with it, and saw things like never before—ants, leaves, worms, and my friends’ pores—as it magnified them through its lens.
Christmas tends to have the same effect on us.
In the Philippines, you know that the Christmas season has finally arrived when you start hearing Jose Mari Chan’s iconic voice in the malls and seeing Christmas lights on the streets and “SALE” signboards everywhere. You know it’s Christmas when the volume of vehicles on the road—particularly on EDSA—has doubled, if not quadrupled, along with the number of people in shopping malls.
Our Pinoy culture really puts a special emphasis on Christmas. To us, Christmas is when families reconcile and get together; it is when loved ones enjoy each other’s company more; it is when everyone feels generous and benevolent toward one another. To us, Christmas is the highlight of the year.
Because of this, Christmas tends to act like a magnifying glass, making more obvious the things we lack.
Christmas tends to magnify brokenness in the family. Because our ideal picture of Christmas is spending it with our families, those without a complete family on Christmas could feel lonelier than ever. Christmas tends to magnify our nostalgia: our longing for the past or for the people with whom we have spent previous Christmases.
Christmas tends to magnify people’s aloneness. With song lyrics like “Pasko na naman, ngunit wala ka pa” and “Ang Disyembre ko ay malungkot, pagkat miss kita,” those with no significant other feel like the odd one out in barkada Christmas parties. The cold December air seems to magnify people’s need for warmth. #SMP—Samahan ng Malalamig ang Pasko.
Christmas tends to magnify people’s poverty and lack. Sadly, this season could be that time of year when the poor feel the reality of their poverty. The world has distorted the meaning of Christmas to mean new clothes, more money, fancy gifts, and delicious food for Noche Buena.
But Christmas is not intended to magnify all of these. Above anything else, Christmas is designed to magnify Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas at all.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
While the world’s definition of Christmas magnifies confusion, the birth of Jesus magnifies that He is our Wonderful Counselor. In the midst of lack, He is a Mighty God and Everlasting Father. In the midst of chaos, He is the Prince of Peace.
Christmas should serve as a reminder that because Christ came into the world, we can live an abundant life in Him. Christmas should be a reminder of the love of God that provides forgiveness, salvation, and a joyful life. Christmas should magnify the King who came to Earth for us, abandoning all comfort and embracing the state of a man to show us how to live and love.
This season, amid the nauseating traffic, the long queues at shopping malls, and the meager handa for Noche Buena, may the magnifying glass focus on Jesus alone, because He is the star of the season.