The First Christmas

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A blessed Christmas to all!

The First Christmas tells a lot about celebrating our faith in the Lord. And the reason why we celebrate this encounter is because of the Lord Jesus. In the First Christmas, we see the Lord Jesus born in the manger, with Mary and Joseph joyfully praising the Lord for experiencing His love for them and for humanity. Celebrating Christmas is celebrating our faith-experience in Bethlehem, where we see His coming among us in an unexpected way.

FAMILY – I was able to celebrate my Christmas together with my family, although my father is still working abroad. For many days now, I was able to stay with Mama and my brother and spent our time together. We went to attend the Novena Mass together, as well as the Christmas Mass in the evening. I prepared our simple Noche Buena by cooking spaghetti and ham. My Mama and my brother prepared barbecue and hotdogs. We had our special prayers together, thanking the Lord for the graces we received and the gift of family stirred by His love. We don’t have much, but for me it was a Bethlehem-experience – simplicity at its best.

FRATERNITY – Christmas would not be without brotherhood and charity. Part of my celebration of Christmas was to share the Spirit of Christmas through our Christmas Carols, Christmas Sharing with the children, Christmas Party with the youth, and Christmas outreach activity with the youth for the victims of the Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. Celebrating Christmas opened me to be part of charitable works – with the intention of bringing Jesus to all through sharing. It was also my Bethlehem-experience because seeing the manger reminds me well of Jesus’ oneness with our poor and suffering brethren.

FAITH – My early vacation from the seminary last December 10 made me prepare a lot in celebrating the Simbang Gabi. For the Novena Mass (or Dawn Mass), I served in our chaplaincy – and for me it was meaningful because I was able to keep track of my reflections as I listened to the homilies of my chaplain. My Bethlehem-experience was the past Holy Masses I attended – and it was a meaningful encounter of the Child Jesus. Such Holy Masses reminded me of my true identity as God’s beloved redeemed. The Holy Masses brought me back to the experience of the First Christmas. For this, I am happy and joyful to celebrate this Christmas!

And for all of you, I have put here my Christmas card exquisitely-made from Adobe Photoshop.

“How about you, my dear friend: what were your Bethlehem-experiences this Christmas?”

Simbang Gabi Chronicle #8: AFFECTION

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Dearest Friends:

Peace and glad tidings in the Lord!

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we were once more led into the narrative of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The whole episode of the visit also leads us reflect another aspect of “telling the good news” – affection. Mary’s meeting with her cousin is an episode of affection which is worth-emulating. The visit itself is a manner of affection which a pure joy shows in the person of Mary. Mary “proclaimed” the good news through her affectionate visit – which is also love.

Come to think of it – many people are in dire need of affection, yet we seem to ignore it like an “eat in the cafeteria”. We keep thinking of doing enormous charitable works which in fact sometimes, affection would be enough as charity itself. All of us are in need of affection, hence, all of us are in need of love. Yet, all of us are capable of “passing on” the affection by showing affection in simple ways. Our presence with a friend in distress is already love. Saying “thank you” to a stranger who helped carry your heavy bags is already love. A text message to a long-time-no-see cousin is already love. A flower given to a committed teacher is already love. A simple tap to a friend who lost a game is already love. All these things are simple, yet they create a cosmic difference – we showed love.

Mary has been “affected” by God’s love. Now, being animated by the Spirit of love, she goes out to “pass on” the affection through her visit to Elizabeth. This Christmas, we are called to be like Mary: when we receive the joy coming from the Lord, it is best not to keep it to ourselves alone, but let others know the presence of the Lord when we show affection. We do not have all the time to plan enormous activities of charity. We can be charitable in simple things. God does not count on accomplishments of big events. What counts on Him is the love we give in simple things. That is the wisdom of God.

“When was the last time I smiled to people I meet everyday?”