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?”

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?”