CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Christmas in the city

HONG KONG (SE): By far the largest congregation of the festive season in Hong Kong gathered in Chater Garden on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Misa de Aguinaldo (Gift Mass) on a warm and balmy December 24.

As the around 8,000-strong, predominately Filipino congregation shoehorned itself into the garden to celebrate Christmas in the city under a darkened sky, the glitter of the surrounding buildings and twinkling parols (Christmas decoration without which no Filipino Christmas is complete) beckoned the gathering crowd to welcome the light that of the birth of the saviour shines into the darkness.

An energetic warmup programme, capped off by a lively presentation of Christmas songs from the El Shaddai Choir, greeted the quietly gathering crowd shuffling in off the street.

Then, as the ministers, together with Father Jay Flandez, Father Dondon Rollon and Father Helmut Peter approached the makeshift altar through an avenue of shining stars, people sang to the glory of God and prepared to welcome the Christ child into their hearts.

Then, as Father Rollon presented the child to the congregation and placed it in the manger of the Christmas setting, an energy of thanksgiving emerged as people sang, Glory be to God with the gusto of a welcome to a close friend.

Father Rollon spoke of Christmas as a time of taking our lives out of their small cocoons and putting them into God’s perspective, saying that it is a call to live for others and not to put a price tag on our service of neighbour, as the birth of the saviour is a call to make the whole world dance.

He said that in the taking on of human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, God shows us that we need to give much more than our time, as God gave himself completely in a supreme act of self-giving.

Courtesy of community radio station Metro AM 1044, the solemnity of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ was shared with those who were unable to leave their homes to join in the holy night, especially those locked away in the city’s prisons.

With the Mass was coming to an end, a hint of misty rain drifted across Chater Garden, as the weather turned and a fresh breeze wafted in off Victoria Harbour, threatening to douse the crowd, if not the spirit of community warmth and the glow of joy that had been built during the evening.

However, a few sweaters and jackets were pulled on and the world did begin to dance, as the choir sang a Christmas greeting and people wished each other a blessed celebration, before going home dry with the joy of Christmas in the city glowing in their hearts.


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