Christmas in Asia 2021

Keeping the traditions alive and meaningful

This Christmas is certainly different from the many years of our celebrations. COVID 19 has undeniably changed the world from the moment of its out break. The world was not prepared to face this pandemic. But slowly people have faced it positively despite the challenges it brought to them. It is also undeniably true that this pandemic has taught us lessons; lessons that are already present but we have neglected before. COVID 19 would be part of our lives in the years to come, but it showed us and brought us closer to essential things that truly matter faith in God, family, friends, support, love, generosity. These essentials thrive along the way.

Disney Company has launched its Christmas Ad this year titled 'From Our Family To Yours.' It showcases a heartwarming Filipino story of a grandmother, her granddaughter and the family traditions that connect them through the years. The Ad shows 'parol' a Filipino ornamental lantern made from bamboo, 'macro po' kissing the hands of elders, 'pasalubong' bringing of gifts to family members. These scenarios bring nostalgia to us who grew up experiencing these Christmas traditions. We might have different family traditions but Christmas is always memorable and even more meaningful when it is celebrated with the people close to our hearts.

Many of us could not go home to our families to celebrate and experience these traditions over again. But let these traditions relive and find new meaning as we discover and share Jesus to people we encounter, far from our biological families yet near to one another, in our own communities and with the people in our ministries.

Through the years, circumstances differ; the meaning of Christmas remains the same. God shows His infinite love to the humanity through the birth of His only begotten Son into our own context: struggling, wounded, fractured and scattered. In this human conditions, far from being perfect that the Light of Salvation breaks in to bring hope to all of us.We could have asked these questions: What's the point of celebrating Christmas while in the pandemic? Is there a need to celebrate it?

We could agree with these questions as we celebrate Christmas this year: God has become one of us in Jesus. This mystery of Incarnation is beyond our human mind to fully comprehend. And yet, in and through Jesus. God is fully revealed to us and is given a human face that anyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. (Jo 3:16) Seeing the face of Jesus is seeing the lace of God, in its fullness. Being with Jesus is being with God, who is life, consolation, mercy, hope and Peace.

Living in life, mercy, hope, consolation, and peace brought to us by the Holy Child is the reason why there is an ever need to celebrate Christmas this year. This pandemic has turned the world upside down and has caused so much suffering, disconnection, death, fear, anxiety, and darkness. How can we -lace all these? We welcome Jesus again and let Him be barn in our lives wherever we find ourselves at this time. In our homes, communities, schools, workplaces, streets, hospitals, orphanages, in the borders, in business firms, in the government, in the marketplaces, in jails and detention facilities. Or in any place where hope is much needed to affect people's lives.

All these spaces must be tilled with the Spirit of Life which is brought to us by the birth of a Saviour, who is to come again. Let us share that light and comfort to others and in our world beset by loss, discomfort and uncertainties.

Marists around the world have been affected by this pandemic since its outbreak. Some of our confreres got sick. Sadly, we lost some at them. We grieve far their death and pray for protection and healing at those who are infected by the virus. We, as missionaries of the -faith are called to be in the frontline to share the light of Christ.

Our people at this lime need our presence and pastoral care. Many at them draw strength and inspiration from us. They seek guidance from us. Each of as is caged to become a visible presence of this little Child born on Christmas day, born in our hearts.

Christmas is also an opportune time to be grateful to people who in one way or another, have become the presence or this Holy Child in our midst all year round. Every 23rd November of each year, we remember the arrival of the first Marists who came to the Philippines to start the Maria project in Asia. We thank our benefactors, donors, mission partners, family members, relatives, staff, volunteers, and friends who have prayed and supported us. This Christmas we express our profound gratitude to each of you.

We are also very grateful for all our Maria confreres all over the word especially our leadership team in Rome for their constant fraternal and spiritual support. And lastly, to the least, last and the lost' who have reminded and shown as God's loving and merciful face, you too deserve our gratitude and appreciation. Our Burmese students and patients in Ranong (Education, Health and IRD); boys at Balay Pasilung.; staff, students, teachers and administrators of the non-sectarian schools under Catholic Campus Ministry or Davao (CCMD); the personnel and persons depraved of liberty in Digos and Davao jails; and our parishioners and leaders at Our Lady or Fatima Parish, Matti, Digos Ciry. In the midst of the pandemic, as Jesus pitched his tent among us, as Mari we commit ourselves to serve you with compassion, joy, love and respect.

Let Jesus be born anew in our hearts and in our world at this time of pandemic. May He till us and our world with new life, hope, mercy, consolation and peace!

Hence, we share to you our stories and encounters over the last six months of the year on this issue of our District newsletter. Enjoy the read!

May we all have a meaningful Christmas celebration and a grace-filled New Year 2021.

Fr. Christopher Thadeos R. Ganzon, SM District Superior

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01 January 2021

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Father Christopher Thadoes R. Ganzon SM

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