By Melissa Dragon
As the year 2016 comes to a close, many are seizing the best bargains at “post-Christmas” sales in the malls. Just this afternoon, as I was at the supermarket purchasing some drinks for tonight’s Christmas party, I noticed that the Christmas carols which had been filling the air since October have already been replaced by Chinese New Year music.
For many, 26 December is the end of the Christmas season. For faithful Catholics, it’s only the beginning. Yes, while others are winding down their Christmas celebrations and gearing up for Chinese New Year, we are just getting started.
Even though the Christmas season begins at the tail end of the calendar year, it is a fresh start in many ways – especially for teachers in Singapore.
The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ to us marks a new beginning for the human race as God has come to earth to bring salvation to all mankind. The Catholic Church officially observes the season of Christmas from midnight of 24 December right until the Baptism of the Lord, which is celebrated on 9 January 2017. This means we have 16 whole days to celebrate Christmas.
For teachers, it is wonderful that we are blessed with the opportunity to bring Christmas into the classroom with us at the start of the new academic year.
While Christmas reminds us of the Infant born to us to fulfil His mission of love and salvation for the human race, it is also a special reminder of the personal mission of love to those who have been called and chosen to fulfil their vocation as educators to the young.
After the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, our Lord Jesus as the Infant King revealed Himself first and foremost to the lowly shepherds in His humble birthplace in Bethlehem.
“He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.” – Luke 1:52
Let us remember, then, as we step into the classroom at the start of the new academic year, to bring the incarnation of Jesus to the last, the lost and the loneliest among our students – those whom God Himself has entrusted to our care. These students may have already experienced poverty in their hearts, lost hope in finding joy, peace and friendship among their peers, are lagging behind in their studies and have lost hope in getting back on track to succeed academically, or come from broken homes and misbehave as a response to their brokenness and need for attention.
As we step into the classroom of familiar and often unfamiliar faces, let us, as teachers, be living signs of the true meaning of Christmas to the “lowly” ones, to whom the Lord has often chosen to offer His presence and friendship.
Therefore, “give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge, but be an example for the flock. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:2-4).
May you and your students have an especially blessed Christmas and a meaningful journey in 2017!