Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

A Very Short Christmas Story

Bro. Paul Cardenas, an Extraordinary minister of the Eucharist of the Diocese of Caloocan has this inspiring story to tell
Christmas. Billions of people around the world celebrate it annually. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. The Philippines has earned the distinction of having the longest Christmas celebration, and everyone has a story to tell about it. I too would want to share this story which happened seven years ago. 

It was a bright December morning, several weeks before Christmas, and I was out at our front yard. I saw children making rounds, singing carols. Numerous people, from garbage collectors, electricity and telephone bill collection agents, to people from different sects, were roaming around giving envelopes, hoping for a generous donation. But several things bothered me: business was down, and the scenario of not having a bright Christmas hangs over my head. I still haven’t done shopping for gifts, and I haven’t planned what to eat on our ‘Noche Buena’. The Christmas lights and lanterns need to be fixed, or worse, replaced. Things like these gave me a headache.....Christmas.... 

A boy suddenly appeared at the gate. He was thin and wore shabby clothes. He wore no slippers and he was holding a sack. He was a garbage scavenger. He asked if I have some plastic bottles or old newspapers to be sold to the junk shop. Even though I felt a little bit irritated, I was amused and jokingly asked him of what Christmas meant to him. He looked far away but said in a loud and joyous manner “Christmas is grace! Money! There’s plenty of money...because there’s so many garbage!!!” 

I was surprised at his reply. Here I was, worrying and having a hard time while this boy was full of excitement and enthusiasm. I was so out of focus that I forgot the real meaning of Christmas. I equated it with gift-giving, food, more spending, while the boy equated Christmas with GRACE! I felt ashamed. I forgot the most important thing. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday! I forgot the most important message of all. I forgot about L-O-V-E........ 

As I was pondering on it, the boy stood up, starting to leave. I told him to wait, and grabbed the old tin cans, newspapers, plastics and other items I collected and gave it to him for free. He was surprised and was so happy. The sack was full, and I told him to go and sell it immediately. He didn’t bother to thank me but I didn’t mind. In fact, I was thankful, because it took another poor boy again, like the poor baby in the manger, to open my ‘eyes’ to remember the true message of Christmas. 

As a conclusion to this story, let us remember the word of the great lyricist, the late Levi Celerio. We don’t have to wait for Christmas. We don’t have to pass the time to smile, to share, to repent, to forgive and most of all, to love. We can do it every day. And as we celebrate the season of Advent, let us be like the garbage boy, full of excitement and joy as we remember the birth of our God’s only begotten Son, and let us eagerly await for the second coming of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. The story doesn’t end here. I know you have a Christmas story to tell. Merry Christmas ----- 

Nota Bene
The boy is now a young man in his 20's, still scavenging, but the author and the boy remain friends....

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