Manila (AsiaNews) In his Christmas message, Mgr Oscar Cruz, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and former chairman of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, told the faithful that "the essence of Christmas is God made flesh, God who has come among us" in an act of love "that joins humankind to the Living God through our Lord Jesus Christ".
But for many, Christmas is houses in Manila decked out in traditional Christmas lights; inside, trees adorning living rooms; outside, stores crowded with people seeking that special gift for friends, relatives, loved ones.
It is a time when families are in a joyful, festive mood, but according to Archbishop Cruz, there is a danger that we might miss the "true essence of Christmas".
This is why his message reminds everyone that the Church has always fought to defend the dignity of man in the name of Christ against oppressive governments, exploitation, abuses.
Political leaders, government officials and public servants must serve the ordinary citizens who elected them or elected those who appointed or hired them, he said.
"Civil power," he added, "comes from God through the people he created in his own image." The government, he pointed out "is of the people, by the people and for the people."
Sadly though, too often people passively put up with the errors of those who govern them confident that they are good decisions taken for the greater good, or, resigned, "always depressed and oppressed, always wanting and poor."
Undaunted, he sounds the clarion call to Filipinos. "Our country," he explains, "is only as good as we make it. Our nation is only as poor and miserable as we allow it to be. Our leaders too are only as good or as bad as we make them".