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Monday, February 19, 2018 26° Partly cloudy

Christmas is every day


By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Christmas, the longest and happiest season of the year in the Philippines, liturgically and officially ended last Monday, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ.

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The question is: Will the spirit of Christmas die down? Meaning, will the spirit of generosity like reaching out to the needy and underprivileged, forgiveness, reconciliation, and  peace end?

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Why be active in our faith ONLY during the Christmas season?  Reminds me of the priest celebrating midnight Mass before a jampacked congregation who included numerous new faces. He greeted them, saying: “Merry Christmas and a Happy Easter!”

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The people wondered why he included Easter. After the Mass, the priest explained, “It’s because  the next time they will show up in church again will be on Easter.”

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As we would say, “Christmas is every day.”  But someone would counter, “That would be expensive. We would be buying gifts and throwing parties.”

By no means. It does not cost much to express the spirit in many non-material ways like saying a compliment or appreciation to someone who’s doing well, being more patient and understanding of other’s failings and weaknesses.

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Nor does it cost anything to get rid of a bad habit or vice, like excessive drinking, smoking or gambling. In fact, doing this can save hard-earned money and yes, save or lengthen your life.

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The spirit of Christmas should be the spirit of a true Christian.  And being a true Christian should not be seasonal but a lifetime quest.

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Former Mayor Mel Lopez

Unknown to many, the former Mayor Mel Lopez who passed away on Jan 1st at 81 was a very religious person. A daily Mass goer, Mr. Lopez initiated the daily Mass at noon in the office hall and the Simbang Gabi novena when he was the director of Philippine National Oil Corporation (PINOC).

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Most importantly, he made it a point to be present in all the Masses. This was a Catholic leader who believed in Psalm 127 of the Bible: “If the Lord does not build the house, its builders labor in vain. If the Lord does not watch over the city, the watchman guard in vain.”

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In 2015 when he rang me up asking me to say Mass at PNOC, I didn’t hesitate to accede if only to renew our friendship.

Before parting, the good-natured director told me, “Give me a ring whenever you want to dine at a buffet restaurant along West Avenue.”

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“Bring your brother-priests,” he said, “and don’t worry about the bill,” he added with a wink, “the property on which the restaurant stands is ours. That will take care of the bill.” And we would laugh heartily.

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That’s how thoughtful, magnanimous, and generous ex-Mayor Lopez was. Among his numerous acts of charity, he helped train and build up starting boxers like the Velasco brothers — Roel and Onyok, silver medalist in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 — when he was the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.

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In the words of the writer Alfred Delp: “When through one man:  a little  more  love and goodness, a little more  light  and  truth comes into the world, then that man’s life has had meaning.”

That was the life of former Manila Mayor Mel Lopez. Eternal Rest Grant unto you, Dear Friend.

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St. Jude. Today join us in our novena to St. Jude Thaddeus, Saint of the Impossible, at the Divine Word Shrine, Christ the King Seminary, on E. Rodriguez Boulevard, Quezon City, after the 6 p.m. Mass.

A healing prayer and anointing with holy oil follow.

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