Simbang Gabi Chronicle #5: SERVANTHOOD

ImageDearest Friends:

Blessings of joy and peace to all!

Today, December 20, we are invited to reflect on the narrative of Mama Mary’s Annunciation in the Gospel reading. In particular, we are called to respond to our vocation like Mary’s trusting heart: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Hence, the reality of “servanthood” in a highly-technological world needs to be  reaffirmed and rediscovered during this Christmas season, and in the Year of Faith. Young as she was when her vocation was made known to her, she now serves as the example of the youth today – eager and excited to search for meaning in life.

To reaffirm and rediscover servanthood takes witnesses of service. But given a world permeated by technological developments, there is a need to have a renewed understanding of service. Today, our notion of service as equated with slavery gains a lot of resentment, irritability and indignance. If we are to understand service  with witnessing, I would personally look into it as a sense of legacy. Perhaps, we admire people because they inculcate a legacy which in turn encourages others to dream and have their own legacy to live. First of all, there is legacy because there is something worth fighting for and worth living.

Mary’s servanthood is characterized by her welcome of the Child Jesus in her life. She herself was immersed into the mystery of God’s presence in humanity – and she became a participant to it. Her legacy then was to bring God’s salvation to all when she answered, with a pondering heart, her generous “yes” to the Lord’s call. As evident in the Scriptures, Mary at first did not understand why she was the one chosen and why she, a virgin, have to bear God’s Son. This is the beauty of our faith – and makes us affirm it according to the Spirit dwelling in us. We just have to be open to Him and trust Him.

Perhaps, a good preparation for Christmas season is to open ourselves to the Lord. All of us are in the pursuit of what is meaningful in life. In my experience, I entered the seminary because I desire to have meaning in my life. This desire to pursue religious and priestly vocation would not have been possible if not with the help of the Spirit of God. Yes, it is God’s initiative to call me and lead me to a mission. But it is also His desire to let me see the meaning of my response to His call. I would always ask for it in my prayers to remind me that I have a legacy to live and to hand on to the future generations. Young as I am, I could really feel it. Now, Mary becomes an example to me. I wish I can be like her. I wish I can bring God’s love to people around me, just like how Mary proclaimed her joy to Elizabeth, to the shepherds, and to the Magi.

“When we desire to serve others, what is the legacy we want them to live?”

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Simbang Gabi Chronicle #3: ROLE-REFLECTING

ImageDearest Friends:

Peace and greetings to all!

For our third Simbang Gabi Chronicle last December 18, my interest focused on the homily of our chaplain. His homily caught my attention because of its relevance today among our multi-tasking buddies. Perhaps, it’s a good thing that in this Advent season, part of our preparation for the celebration of the Birth of our Lord would be to slow down and reflect what has been through our life in this year 2012 as it draws its conclusion. On this reflection, we draw St. Joseph as our model of “role-reflecting” in his silent and listening heart.

I couldn’t agree more when our chaplain said that most of us tend to do “rushed decision-makings”. I take it simply as reckless decision-makings. Just this: why do road accidents occur more frequently than we know it? Why do regrets come after someone posted his own nasty picture either in Facebook or Twitter that gained infamous remarks? Why do some research papers get rejected before getting recommended for publication? Why do some organizations keep on splitting up? Why do some peer relationships ended up bitter, regretful and hateful? And why do some persons of great ambition who almost reached their goal missed it and fell hard? Yes, it’s about recklessness – and sometimes, its consequences are irrevocable.

Think about our world today. Think about how we think. Think about how we act. More often than not, we are preoccupied with many things we thought we could get done in our way. But life is not all that. That is why people who consider themselves “multi-taskers” get stressed early on yet they have less in life. They could get things done in a short span of time, but if you would ask them whether they got the meaning of how they did it, I doubt enough that they would give you a meaningful answer. You’ll be surprised – they would just be dumbfounded. And if they keep on stressing themselves no matter what it takes, they just snap and fall, making reckless decisions in an instant and then regret the consequences. Admit it: we can’t own the world, and it’s time to stop the thought to control everything.

St. Joseph is an example to all of us. Aside from his simplicity, it is his “role-reflective” attitude which made him also great. He could have been overcome by the law and expose Mary to the public about her condition. But he took time – and in that taking time, he was revealed of his “role” or his “calling” which made him prepare well to receive Jesus. We can do that too. We just need to respect time, and discern well. It’s not on the quantity of finished works that we become great. Rather, it is on the quality that we put on our work that counts our greatness. And that quality is best accompanied with slowing down, taking time, and discernment. Our faith in the Lord requires that too. God respects our growth, so too we are expected to respect the process of our growth.

“Now, what are the things in life that are in need of us slowing down and taking time? In our discernment, what can therefore be our role in this life?”