Yes, yes , itâ€™s onlyÂ mid November. But we put themÂ Â up anyway.Â And lightedÂ the parols. So twoÂ did our two gandaughters, in another part of this oldÂ town,
That sets off reminiscing.
Some recall the 1937 poem byÂ then Jesuit scholastic Horacio de la Costa: â€œThe Star of the Kingâ€
â€œMelchorÂ was king ofÂ Tondo; Gaspar ruled Sampaloc and Baltazar Binondo.
They sailed out of Manila to follow the star. When, they came home from Bethlehem, afar, they lost their camels in the sea, and they lost their Christmas tree..Â ButÂ they brought home to you and me the â€œSecret of the Star..Â Â That is why even today, simple folk thinkÂ Â Christmas is incomplete, â€œunless that can make a star of paper the newborn King to greet…
There are other views, of course. â€œWe saw His star rise in the East and come to honor Him,â€ travel-weary men of regal bearing told the paranoid Herod, the ancient accounts recall. HerodÂ asked to be kept in the loop. Bring me word, so I too may worshipÂ him,â€
â€œ(Then) the starâ€¦ went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the Child wasâ€¦ with Mary His motherâ€….Then, warned in a dream, they set off another way toÂ their home country.
Even today, the Christmas star puzzles scientists. â€œWas it a supernova or a comet?â€ asked Dr. Peter Andrews of University of Cambridge and Robert Massey of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. A â€œstationary point of Jupiter,â€ perhaps?
In 5 B.C., the year many scholars believe Jesus was born, a combination of a bright nova and a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, in the constellation of Pisces, was seen, some accounts say.
â€œAncientChinese astronomers recorded this as an unusually bright star that appeared in the eastern sky for 70 days. It was a rare sight.â€
â€œNone of the possible astronomical explanations have overwhelming evidence that it should be preferred to others,â€ Andrews and Massey conclude.
But the nova, comet or variable star explanation â€œappears more likely.â€
The astronomersâ€™ debate continuesÂ today . So does the puzzle over a vulnerable child who lighted a world, though born in a manger that clones our 2015Â slumsÂ of penury. Over 93 million children in 53 countries are malnourished..
Lukeâ€™s account of Jesusâ€™ birth mentions the manger thrice.
Mary laid her infant in the manger. Angels told the shepherds: â€œAnd this shall be a sign for you. You will find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And when they did stumble into the decrepit stable, they recognized the Messiahâ€œ as described.
As we today know it, the Christmas managerÂ dates back to St. Francis of Assisi. In 1293, the first crÃ¨che was celebrated in the woods of Greccio near Assisi, on Christmas Eve.
St. Francisâ€™ idea of bringing Bethlehem into oneâ€™s own town spread quickly all over the Christian world,. After Francisâ€™ death in 1226, the custom of having the crib at Christmas spread .The Nativity belen came here via Ferdinand Magellanâ€™s vessels.
â€œThe Filipino Belenâ€ is the title of a homily that the late historian Horacio de la Costa, S.J. delivered during a Nativity midnight mass in the USÂ Excerpts:
â€œIn many offices today, a Filipino â€˜belenâ€™ graces the entrance. Nipa Â make up the stableâ€™s roof. CoconutÂ trees flank the entrance to the manager, and a suspended star parol blinks beside the angel figurines. In some cribs, Joseph and Our Lady are in tropical clothes heedless of the Palestinian winter.
â€œOften, its just a sandlot or an ordinary tableÂ at Christmas time, In the center, we place a Christ Child. And around it we arrange Our Lady and Saint Joseph, the way Catholics everywhere, and in every age,Â pictured them.
â€œBut the rest bearsÂ little resemblance to the real Bethlehem. The shepherds are dressed as farmers and fishermen, because we had no sheep and no winters.
â€œIn one corner, the Three Kings do not ride camels. Rather, one of them leads our townâ€™s carabao. And they look up to theÂ starâ€”made of paper pasted on a bamboo frame and hung from the ceiling.
â€œYou will smile, perhaps. Christ was not born in a palm leaf shack, and the Wise Men never broughtÂ gifts on a carabao.
â€œ(Yet) in our ignoranceâ€¦isÂ a great truth.â€™
Although Christ was born 2,000 years ago in Palestine, …. He was born for all time and all peoplesâ€¦. He was born for you and for me. He willed to become a man in order to save all men. And He chose to be born homeless because he wanted everyone to be at home.
This little Son of Mary is also â€˜God of Godâ€™ â€” as we say in the Credo of the Mass. There are for him no distances. And He lives in an eternal now.
â€œAnd it is right, profoundly right, that we should surround his cradle with all that is familiar and dear to usâ€”our houses, our tools, our toys, everything that is part of ourselves and our daily lives. Because it was to bless and sanctify these, and ourselves with them, that Christ was bornâ€¦.
â€œThere is room for all the worldâ€¦ in a Babyâ€™s arms.â€ We look deep in this Infantâ€™s eyes, as our fathers did before us, and â€œbe filled with the peace that the world cannot give.â€*###### (ByÂ JuanÂ L. Â Mercado)