Have you ever wondered about the meaning of word Christmas? It comes from two words – Christ and Mas. Christ means the Messiah or the Annointed One while Mas means Mass or Missa in Latin. Mass means the celebration of the Eucharist – or the Holy Communion celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus. In other words, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb, our Savior.
To make it even more meaningful for Filipinos, we call Christmas as Pasko or in Ilonggo Paskwa which comes from the word Pascha which the word Paschal (Passover) Lamb comes from. No wonder that the first visitors in the birth of the Christ were the Shepherds. The first on the scene when the Passover Lamb was born were the shepherds. It was not a coincidence but the plan of God.
The Passover Feast in the Bible is a celebration of the passing over of the Angel of Death on the houses of the Israelites in Egypt because the blood of the lamb was painted in their doorposts. This is why every year they retold the story of their liberation in Egypt by God, and how they were brought to the Promised Land, Israel. This event was the foreshadow of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
When I was in Israel, I learned that in the Diaspora or the spreading of the Israelites all over the world starting in 70 AD they would continue to celebrate the Passover in their homes every year on the same date with other Jews all over the world. After the Passover Seder, they would say one line that is full of hope – “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” (next year in Jerusalem.” For thousands of years, they repeated this hope. One can only how many thousands of times this line was repeated. They hoped to return to the land of Israel. And yes, the Jews eventually returned to Israel in 1948. They became a nation again. And this line of prayer and hope is still being repeated every year all over the world. This tells us about the hope that is being fueled by faith.
Christmas is a celebration of hope. The meaning of Christmas should always be connected to the Passover. Let us put our faith in the Passover Lamb who took away the sins of the world!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on