Life and Progress

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Yesterday, we commemorated the Holy Innocents who were martyred on the account of the Child Jesus. Yet that celebration calls us to a fundamental response which we, as children of the First Christmas and of the Easter Morn, have to revisit in ourselves.

Months ago, I recalled posting about “Intrigues of Progress: On Ethics in Advertising”. The point I made there was on how we perceive “progress” in terms of “development” in so many aspects. What is interesting is that the problems concerning our society nowadays seemed to have been rooted on how we perceive “progress”. It often leads us to ask the “why” of “progress”.

So? Personally, I observe that on the pursuit of achieving “progress” in our society, one fundamental question (even personal) is attached: “What’s in it for me?” Our ability to ask this question expects us to clarify and evaluate “progress”. Admit it – not everyone has the same notion of “progress”. That’s because we came from different contexts – period (we have to respect that). But what makes us reflect together about “progress” is because of the “why” (not only in the utilitarian sense of it) – together with the question “what’s in it for me?”

And I propose that upon hearing “breakthroughs” in our society, our participation would be to ask questions – clarify and evaluate. We are no longer passive agents of whatever’s-happening-out-there because as individuals, we are more concerned on the search for meaning in our lives – explicitly or implicitly. Then, another important question surfaces: “How can I be facilitated in  my search for meaning in my life?” Interesting!

Practically speaking, there is a need for us to sit down, listen and discern well. We are neither puppets nor robots for use in production mechanism – we are human persons formed “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14) to love and to be loved. Perhaps, this is an important criterion we adopt when we approach “progress”. There is more to love that facilitates the search for meaning than being mere puppets or robots of what’s happening. 

Then, does our notion of progress make us more humane and loving? Interesting!

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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 #6: TELLING THE GOOD NEWS

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Dearest Friends:

Wishes of peace and happiness!

Last December 21, we are invited to gaze upon the faith that Mary proclaimed when she visited Elizabeth. One aspect which caught my attention was the manner how Mary told the Good News to Elizabeth. That scene captured a heart-warming and touching experience of what it means to proclaim and to share the Good News to others, especially in our challenging times. As we approach Christmas, it has to be our attitude of sharing the Good News to the people we meet because Jesus, born among us, is for all of us!

What makes “telling the Good News” so unique? Take it from our experience: getting good grades from major exams, miraculously passing a board exam, sweet greetings from our loved ones, successful undertakings, good health, being praised and esteemed by friends, and many more – all of these are worth-telling as good news. Perhaps the reason why we share such tales of joy because we are people of Christmas – we multiply the joy we have. Every joy we experience demands being spread – and it’s so natural and most of the time, spontaneous.

Aside from being called “Children of Easter Morn”, we are also called “Children of Bethlehem”. Yes, it is through our faith-experience of Bethlehem that we come to appreciate the joy of Christmas. Perhaps, one of the greatest ironies that we can share in telling the good news is that “there is a King born in the manger”. This could be mind-boggling because it creates a paradigm shift from our usual understanding of a “king being adorned in glory and splendor upon his presence”. Yet, it creates a unique joy because it makes each one wonder what sort of King this might be – and we feel attracted to it.

Hence, our Bethlehem-experience leads us to Jesus himself. The First Christmas may not have been so extravagant and exhibiting, but deep inside our hearts, Christmas is a divine encounter of a hopeful desire in reaching the goal of perfect joy and happiness – amidst this challenging world we live in. In spreading the Good News of our Bethlehem-experience, like Mary, may it bring forth a breath of hope to the persons whom we know are suffering and undergoing severe crisis. Yes, telling the Good News is charity itself. And “being a Good News” to others is charity enough.

“Have I been a Good News to others lately?”