Christmas is for the excluded

By Herman M. Lagon

IN THE heart of the Christmas narrative lies a profound truth often overshadowed by the glitz of holiday festivities: It is a celebration that resonates most profoundly with the poor. This does not imply that Christmas is not for the affluent, but rather that its essence–the birth of Jesus Christ–holds special significance for those living in humility and want, inviting all to reflect on the broader themes of social justice and inclusivity.

At its core, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus, a figure synonymous with love, hope, and joy. This message, steadfast through the years, becomes particularly poignant amidst global strife and turmoil. It stands as a beacon of good news in a world often overwhelmed with despair, emphasizing the journey of solidarity with those on the margins of society.

Christmas has always held a special place for the less fortunate. This tradition of giving, deeply ingrained in the Christmas spirit, appears in narratives like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” illuminating the transformative power of generosity and compassion towards the less fortunate. Such attitudes toward poverty underscore a crucial aspect of Christmas giving: the need to recognize every individual’s inherent dignity and humanity, regardless of their social status.

In modern times, charitable giving has evolved into a well-organized, albeit sometimes impersonal, system. While essential, large-scale charity events and institutional donations often miss the intimate connection that lies at the heart of true charity. The teachings of Jesus Christ remind us that our actions towards the least privileged reflect our actions towards Him, urging us to see and act beyond mere external charity.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical on charity, emphasized the importance of seeing others through the eyes of Christ. This perspective calls for a deeper engagement than meeting external needs; it invites us to offer the “look of love” that reaches the soul. This Christmas, we are challenged to extend this genuine, heartfelt compassion to those around us, especially the excluded and marginalized.

Meanwhile, in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis articulates a vision of Christmas that calls for a more profound kinship with the poor, urging believers to embrace the festive season as a time to actively live out the message of fraternity and social friendship, particularly with the excluded. On the other hand, Pope John Paul II’s “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” also sees Christmas as a time to renew our commitment to the poor, emphasizing that the celebration of Christ’s birth is a poignant reminder of our duty to pursue social justice and the upliftment of the least, the last, and the lost.

The Ignatian philosophy, focusing on finding God in all things, likewise invites us to recognize the divine daily, including in the faces of the poor and marginalized. It compels us to respond to their plight with generosity and love, transforming our understanding of Christmas from a seasonal celebration to a profound opportunity to live out the Gospel’s call to social justice and inclusivity.

Christmas is a celebration for all, but it holds a special significance for the poor and marginalized. It serves as a reminder that amid our struggles, the birth of Jesus offers a message of hope, love, and joy that is especially relevant to those who feel overlooked and forgotten. In this festive season, let us all strive to embody the spirit of generosity, compassion, and social justice at the heart of the Christmas narrative.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.