PASSION FOR MISSION: A society that reflects the reign of God

MALITA, Davao Occidental (MindaNews / 24 December) — A day before Christmas and a week before the year ends our neighbors are still at work here in the mountains of Malita, Davao Occidental. They are making charcoal from the coconuts that they had harvested and will later sell this to local merchants in order to earn some more cash before the year 2022 becomes a mere memory. While those who are better off are having their holiday and doing their last minute  Christmas shopping, our neighbors continue to toil. They remind me of the shepherds who were looking after their sheep the night Jesus was born (Lk 2: 8). They continued to look after their sheep, oblivious to what was happening elsewhere.

On that night, it was to these shepherds that the angel of the Lord had made known the birth of the Messiah (Lk 2: 9-11).  The king at the time had no inkling of the event (Mt 2: 3-4) and the Roman Empire was too preoccupied with itself (Lk 2: 1-2) to really care about anything at all. God decided to let outsiders, insignificant and poor people know of the birth of the person who was the fulfillment of His promise. God was not discrete about the announcement; far from it! God made it known to the shepherds in all glory and with a great throng of angels singing praises because God’s promise was about to be fulfilled (Lk 2: 13-14). If it were a concert, the shepherds better than getting front seats were the only ones given seats in that spectacular and heavenly display announcing the birth of Jesus! If smartphones and the internet had already existed at the time and if one of the shepherds shot a video of the spectacle and posted it on social media, that would have certainly gone viral! 

Before we mistake all our celebrations, be it gastronomical or liturgical, to be the true meaning of Christmas, let us not forget the first Christmas. On the night that God became one of us in Jesus, it was to outsiders, insignificant and poor people that he had made known of the fulfillment of the promise. This was a foretaste of Jesus’ ministry and the whole point of the reign of God. Blessed are the poor, the hungry, those who weep and those who are reviled because of their faith in Christ… theirs is the kingdom of God (Lk 6: 20-23). Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus mindful that Christmas should lead us to participate in the mission God had given to Jesus: to proclaim and make the reign of God a reality in our lives and in the society that we currently live in. Let us do this by striving to transform the existing human, social and economic relations in order that those who are considered outsiders, insignificant and who are reduced to poverty by the prevailing unjust economic system become an integral part of human society, a society that reflects the reign of God.

May you all have a meaningful celebration of Christmas!

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Fr. Joey Gánio Evangelista, MJ, heads the Malita Tagakaulo Mission of the Diocese of Digos. The mission is based in Malita, Davao Occidental)