Christmas, it’s Christmas
The whole earth rejoices
And the sea is quiet…
Sailor, where are you going?
Leave your nets and pray
Watch the star pass by
Oh, sailor, sailor, make an altar in your boat
Oh, sailor, sailor, because Christmas has come.

José Luis Perales

Christmas is possibly the most surprising date on the calendar for all people, and it’s not just for Christians. Everyone in the world, believers or not, give some meaning to this time, during which an infant child brings us peace. Christmas wakes us up, stirs our hearts, and calls us to be better people.

Unfortunately, many times it remains just that: one date, a time when we can be overwhelmed by gifts, dinners, festive celebrations … and we forget the great reason for celebration: Jesus, the Good News.

Many live through each Christmas by the credit card, new debts to pay off, and all the gifts….  For others, there are others for whom Christmas never arrives.

But Christmas belongs to everyone; Christmas is for every person.

Jesus was incarnated into history in order to restore the love relationship between God and human beings. But also to restore relationships among human beings. That is why, for most of those who live in conflict, a ceasefire is decreed on Christmas Day; so that everyone can lift up their eyes, look at the sky and make a brief prayer … an offering of  thanks, a thought for those who are far away.

In our world many will not have a good Christmas. Men and women in prisons, those who have lost a loved one, those whose salary is not enough to cover their minimum needs, persons whose families live in conflict zones and others who live far away from their own and who are unable to gather together with their loved ones.

But Christmas belongs to everyone; Christmas is for every person.

Mary and Joseph have arranged for this birth. But as human beings might propose but it’s God who disposes, this birth surprises them while on their way to register due to the census decreed by the Emperor. They are going to Joseph’s ancestral lands, since he is a descendant of David.  On the way, Mary’s labor surprises them.  They look for an inn in Bethlehem — small, insignificant Bethlehem, but for them there is no inn. Mary must prepare to give birth in a manger. This Nativity scene is not the romantic manger that we set up in our homes, lit and beautiful. It is dark and smelly, an unhealthy place. It is a space where animals live and shepherds sleep. It is the place where the poor are.  From the start, Jesus makes a preferential option for the poor.

How many Marys give birth these days in the caravan of migrants seeking to reach the great northern country! How many Marys give birth in the boats while crossing the Mediterranean from Africa, looking for a better life! How many Josephs stay at their side, enduring those moments wracked by fear, waiting for someone to take pity on them! How many Marys and how many Josephs are overjoyed to receive a child, even though their living conditions are so precarious!

Still, Christmas belongs to everyone; Christmas is for every person.

And there are those who seek this child to meet with him … while there are others seek to eliminate him. The kings or rather the wise men from the East arrive at the palace of Herod in search of the one that the star announces. They are sages who seek the truth. Herod is obsessed, seeing this child only as a threat to his power. He asks the wise men, when they find the Child, to bring that news to him so that he can go and worship him.

How many of the powerful seek to end Jesus, His good news, and all His prophesizing! Jesus and hope for the poor. Monsanto and its transgenic experiments, the huge transnationals, those who exploit children in India, China, Pakistan and many other places especially in the third world. The G20 and its economic proposals that suffocate smaller nations. The rich and powerful who do not accept the option of Jesus and his announcement of salvation, the healing of the planet, an economy of solidarity, Human Rights. Only the wise and prudent, those who seek truth and justice, those who long for respect for the human person … only they will see God.

Still, Christmas belongs to everyone; Christmas is for every person.

Christmas moves us, stirs us, calling each of us to account in different ways. From where will we position ourselves to see it, to contemplate it, to call upon this mystery in our hearts and in the hearts of others?  But Jesus is born for all of us. Jesus keeps betting on us, Jesus continues to trust in each one of us.  

So, to everybody, Merry Christmas!  May Jesus continue to be born in our hearts and our lives, despite any adversity! 

Yes, Christmas belongs to everyone. Christmas is for each and every one of us and nobody can snatch it away!

Alejandro Fabres, C.M.
Province of Chile

Translation by Dan Paul Borlik, C.M.
Western Province, USA