THERE’S no denying, Christmas is a season of giving, and of loving. But yet, in the actual scheme of things, especially amid yet our second COVID Christmas scourge, there are those who give, not so out of love, but simply because they are capable of giving; and likewise there are those who are willing to share their love but are incapable of giving or sharing “anything” except themselves.
So, what really is the heck of the distinction between “giving” and “loving”?
While it is possible, undoubtedly so, to give without loving, could the reverse be similarly possible too – that is, to love without giving?
Let me answer this by using the analogy of roses and thorns.
Either we complain because roses have thorns, or we rejoice because thorns have roses. But while all roses have thorns, not all thorns have roses.
Similarly, not every rejoicing is perfectly devoid of complaints; just as not every complaint can emanate from, if not lead to, rejoicing.
By the same token, therefore, it is possible to give without loving, but it is not possible to love without giving – because giving is an inherent, operative character of loving. Simply put, giving is already presupposed in loving, and the greatest gift of love is oneself.
Further, it is much nobler to rejoice, than complain, on thornful roses.
It is more profound to LOVE, coupled with the sacrifice of GIVING, than merely to give but devoid of love.
Now, let’s draw our attention back to Christmas time, which is supposedly a genuine season of “giving and loving”.
I’d like to bring home the point that our present “thornful” second COVID Christmas is in no way different from the “ordinariness” of Christ’s birth. The incarnation scene of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was not at all a “bed of roses”.
More succinctly, by being incarnated as completely “human”, Christ’s birth was an allusion – or points out – to his “thorns” of suffering and death in Calvary.
Both – his birth and death – are sublime metaphors of LOVE – the former is “presence” (“Emmanuel” or God is with us), and the latter is “self-giving” as demonstrated by his greatest sacrifice on the cross in order to save us.
Both – Bethlehem and Calvary – are two towering wellsprings of God’s LOVE, which is universal, unconditional, and “forever” or eternal.
Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle profoundly underscores that on Christmas time material gifts vanish, but the gift of love lives on; that all other things that we associate with Christmas will disappear except the truth that God is with us in Jesus, the Emmanuel.
“The problems and sufferings (wrought by the pandemic) will help us focus on the message of hope and of Christmas. What is it? It is God who comes to us. We will never be alone. Emmanuel, God with us,” Tagle said.
“Other things that are with us will disappear – the investments, the achievements, the gifts and our money will disappear. All these things that we have associated with Christmas will disappear. But Jesus who comes as one of us, God with us, will remain with us forever. That is our hope,” he added.
Have peace! On this our second pandemic Christmas, let us pursue the greater path of not just giving, but of profoundly enlivening our acts of giving with genuine love; of choosing love or opting for things eternal, nay just ephemeral.
My Christmas wishes of well-being, good health, safety, abundance, peace, joy, and love – in our hearts, in our families, in our work, in our struggles and endeavours, in our community, and in our country!