separate occasions, the two Christmas massages from 84-year-old Pope Benedict
XVI this year should indeed be read together.
Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, he lamented that
Christmas has become an increasingly commercial celebration that obscures the
simplicity of the message of Christ's birth.
ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season,” he
said. “And to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to
find true joy and true light."
And in his traditional
"Urbi et Orbi" (Latin for "to the city and the world") speech
from the central loggia of St. Peter's on Christmas Day, he prayed for famine,
flood and conflict victims from around the world.
timely reminders for us during the festive time. For years, I have noticed that
there is an increasing inclination for many to see Christmas as an occasion for
pleasure seeking. The slogan of in a credit card advertisement by Hong Kong’s
largest bank, prompting the whole city to “Live, Shop, Play”, says it all. The
Pope reminds us not only to ponder the true meaning of Christmas but also to
think about and pray for the disadvantaged. On this holy day, let us reflect on
the reason for Jesus Christ assuming a human existence which began in the
simplest and most humble fashion.
This was the
evening for the Gala Dinner. Being vegans, our food choice is quite “limited”,
so it doesn’t make sense to pay the exorbitant price for much of the food that
we are simply not going to touch, and the good thing about this favourite
resort of ours is that it doesn’t require guests to join the Christmas Dinner
like many other hotels.
But we did take
One of the
activities for the Gala Dinner was “Cinema Paradiso”, in which movies were
shown in front of a lotus pond while the guests were having dinner.The show being open air meant that other
guests were also able to see it, so when we returned to the resort after having
our own version of “Gala Dinner” (garlic bread + fried asparagus + yellow curry
with vegetables + rice) at about 5 percent of the price of this one, we sat at
a secluded corner and quietly enjoyed the show. It was a Disney cartoon, a
Christmas version of Beauty and the Beast in which Belle helped turn the Beast
into the prince that once was and his gloomy and cursed castle into a hopeful
and lively one on Christmas Eve.
storyline for a fairy tale, you might say, but interestingly, the cartoon
reinforced some important concepts I learned about life from Nick Vujicic’s
book Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. In the two
chapters that I read at the poolside in the last two days, Nick talks about how
to handle life when things go against us. He proposes that we should have hope
and adopt a positive attitude – an attitude of gratitude, action, empathy and
forgiveness. These happened to be the very weapons that brought Belle her
triumph, and it was a lack of these that had left the Beast trapped by the dark
voices in his own psyche.
Some things in life are
more than coincidence, when you think carefully about them.