Lent Comes After Christmas

He will be a sign that people do not believe in. He will make many people in Israel fall and rise. Yes, a long knife will cut your heart too. What people think will be made known. — Luke 2:34-35

This was Simeon’s prophecy to Mary when she presented her son Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem to be circumcised. With such strong words, the young teenage mother’s heart bled madly.

Well that was two thousand plus years ago. At her forties, she was able to see her Son conquer death and vanquish darkness with His glorious resurrection. Some time after her death, she was carted off to heaven body and soul.

At least, that’s how Catholic/Christian doctrine dictates the flow of events after Jesus’ Nativity. The four Evangelists however only mentioned in passing the events of Jesus’ youthful days. The Vatican City after all would not allow the public to know that once upon a time, when a playmate irked Jesus, the Son of God stared at him angrily and in a matter of ten seconds, he died. (Well, at least this was what I read from Catholicism controversies, which I really love reading haha.)

And indeed, the Vatican City seemed to take things from the points-of-view of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They fashioned the Liturgical Calendar in a way to remind Christians all over the world that Jesus’ coming on Earth is not an entirely happy event. His mission was the biggest scandal the world has ever heard of (what in Liberation Theology is called the Scandal of the Cross).

First, what they did was to purge all the Paganism happening globally. This they did by eliminating the Roman feast called Brumalia and by setting their headquarters at Rome itself. They declared this orgasmic feast as the birthday of Jesus Christ — December 25.

The second step was to start teaching the world about Jesus. And it was for this reason that the song Twelve Days of Christmas was composed. Each gift stated here symbolizes for a lesson in theology. As to how they came up with “twelve days,” I have no idea and I am not making any guesses.

With the song, they counted on from December 25. The eighth day, January 1, was marked as the Commemoration of Jesus’ Circumcision, as well as the feast of His teenage mommy (Feast of Mary, Mother of God). Five more days remain and as the song goes, Christmas ends at January 5. The day after it, they declared as the Feast of the Epiphany, when the supposed-to-be Three Kings (all from Europe, they say) visited the Child Jesus and made homage to Him. (This kinda messes up the calendar. For what sane reasons will Jesus, already presented at the temple already and circumcised return back to the manger with His parents? Well, the Bible must not be read literally after all.) And with January 6, the Christmas Tide officially ends.

It was around three decades ago however when the Vatican City declared that the Feast of the Epiphany be moved to the first Sunday of January instead (that is, assuming January 1 does not fall on a Sunday). This messed up the Twelve Days of Christmas song big time, but hey, at least their message sank in already. To remedy this, they arranged the second week of January as the Feast of the Baptism instead and declared it as the true official end of the Christmas season.

After the Christmas season, the Church has around six more or less weeks of Ordinary Time, after which everyone gets their foreheads marked with burnt palm. Ash Wednesday officially marks the forty-day countdown to Holy Week — an eight-day commemoration of Jesus’ suffering, death, and glorious resurrection.

Poor Jesus. In barely two month’s time, He was stuffed with a ton of growing pills. He might have had a sad adolescent life. (Actually, it’s just a week. He was already of age when He was baptized by His beloved cousin.)

To the believer, this can only mean that life is not just about happy surprises and long breaks. One must learn to endure the hard lessons of life as well. One must be willing to let go of things, like what Jesus did with His youth. Believer or not, that is the cycle of life. At some points, we have to cry as well. It’s not about “happily ever after” always. Sometimes, we have to take our share of that deadly apple as well.

Jesus’ life, whether as revealed by Vatican City or not, is not a fairytale. But He lived the harsh way so that we can have a smooth fairytale. That is why the Easter Tide is five times lengthier than the season of Christmas — to celebrate the joyful story Jesus failed to have (because He chose to give it to us instead).

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. — Luke 9:23

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