Simbang Gabi Chronicle #2: HUMANITY AFFIRMED!

ImageDearest Friends:

Peace and glad tidings to all!

For the second day of our Simbang Gabi Chronicles, we have the theme: “Humanity Affirmed!” From this theme, we reflect on the Gospel which speaks of Jesus’ early ancestors, thus affirming the humanness of Jesus (except sin). As our Emmanuel, his presence among us has also to affirm his being human. And for us, we are led to recognize the face of the Word-became-flesh, bringing us hope, peace, joyful expectations, and gladness.

This would be my second day to attend the Simbang Gabi at the hospital chapel where I serve. Honestly, during the Gospel reading, I was craving to sit down because of the long narration of the ancestry of Jesus.  (and I guess, not all names narrated there are named among us, well, only few…). And given the early rise in the morning, I could not help but feel sleepy from time to time (not to mention the fact that I came home late the other day). It is no surprise that with the long list of names mentioned in the Gospel, one (and even I) would simply ask “What can I get from this?” or “Whatever it takes…” or “Is there a shorter alternative Gospel reading from this?” or “Duh? Come on!” or better still, “Ugh… when will this end?”

Well, the good news with these expressions is that our humanness is really there! It’s still a relief that we are not some kind of a floating spirit around, but with the presence of our very humanity. But there is more in the Gospel calling us to realize, and as well as our human nature would speak of. With the affirmation of Jesus’ humanity, one important reality is also affirmed: presence. Take an analogy of our best friends: apart from what my best friend would give me, it would be his/her presence which matters most to me. Nothing beats a friend who would always be there for me! In the same way, much as God loves us, so do He willed to send His Son to be among us, in our humanity.

Perhaps, there is a need for us to go beyond a mere “God-is-up-there” mindset, into recognizing and appreciating our humanity (where the Spirit of God is actually dwelling) – a gift that God gave us. God loves us and would not give up on us no matter how many times we fail Him or even become unfaithful to Him – because we are all His beloved. And perhaps, one good way to appreciate our humanity is to stop looking miserable and enjoy what He has given us. The Emmanuel became among us, and there are inestimable reason to celebrate life! Hence, it is actually a call for us to celebrate life as we affirm our humanity! However, there is a needed concrete response from us:

“How can we celebrate life in the ordinariness of days, not only during Christmas?”

Simbang Gabi Chronicle #1: CHEER UP!

ImageDearest Friends:

A blessed Christmas greetings to all!

Last December 16, 2012, we Filipino Catholics started our traditional Simbang Gabi (Dawn Masses), which would end in December 24. This Simbang Gabi is also called our Novena Mass as we approach the celebration of the Birth of our Lord Jesus on December 25. On these days, the readings are concerned with our preparation in receiving the Lord in our lives.

And on this day, I would also like to start my daily blog entitled: “Simbang Gabi Chronicles“. It would be a nine-day sharing of my reflections and thoughts regarding the Gospel (not necessarily the homily of the priest). I invite you, dearest friends, to come and join with me to celebrate Christmas season, with Jesus as the reason of our joyful celebration!

Last December 16, 2012, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is also the Gaudete Sunday. This Sunday invites us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord – with joyful expectation in our hearts. The call for us is to “rejoice” in the Lord! Nope, this is not a brand of shampoo that we know, nor a mere party-party-like celebration. Instead, to rejoice in the Lord means to find in the Lord the meaning of our lives. Hence, a joyful attitude in this season is an attitude of finding newness in our faith – a sense of renewal and conversion. To rejoice in this sense, is not reduced to a mere emotion or a feeling. Rather, it calls us to a reflective composure that “there is something I can still discover about myself as I grow in faith in Jesus”.

One good observation on this reflection is that many people seem to lose meaning of what life is all about. We seem to content ourselves on the noises around us, thinking that to express our joy is to find opportunities to be noisy and loud. More often than not, however, our obsession of noise usually leads us away to know our true identity. Worst is that we become pessimistic of life, leading to depression, and sadly, leading to being bitter and suicidal. Come on, cheer up!

Cheer up! Be joyful because we are all God’s beloved. Indeed, it is true that we prepare ourselves for the Lord, but it is also true that we prepare ourselves for ourselves, too. Much as our Savior is called “Emmanuel” (God-with-us), so too we see ourselves as the image of the Emmanuel. He lives among us because He brings the promise of life, and therefore, we all have the reason to enjoy the life He promises to give us. There is something we need to do:

“What can we do to welcome the Emmanuel, the reason of our ‘cheering up’, in our lives?”