A blessed Christmas to you all! Thank you very much in joining me in this journey with our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for following and “liking” my blogs. It is my hope that somehow you have seen a glimpse of God’s majesty and kindness in my reflections. On this joyous day of Christmas, join me in simply praying to our Lord Jesus born on this day. Join me in reflecting some important things I have learned about Christmas.
These past nine days in our reflections, I have tried asking Jesus about any message for me and for you, my readers and my parishioners. As His birthday approached, I told Him some thoughts within me about Christmas although I am very sure those were not really mine but His also. That is prayer: conversing with God who has always been speaking to us. We simply respond to Him. And here is our prayer this Christmas…
A blessed happy birthday to you, Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit in enabling me to start this prayer like Zechariah, giving praise and glory to you for “coming to us to save us and set us free” (Lk.1:68). As I prayed over the gospels for the three Masses of your birthday, there were some things that came to my mind that I wish to offer to you. Most likely, these must have actually come also from you.
First lesson I have realized this Christmas: there is always somebody trying to be a king or an emperor among us, even within us. There is always somebody wishing to unseat you, even claiming to be the Messiah or the Christ. That has always been the setting of your coming, Lord: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town” (Lk.2:1-3). Among those who followed that order were your parents who were poor with no choice but obey the Roman emperor who believed in himself to be a god, the savior of the world. Until now, Lord, there are people who act like emperors by coming out with all kinds of plans and dreams of grandeur, lording it over their people with many programs that benefit the poor and the needy but in reality are just feeding on their bloated egos and twisted minds. They are everywhere, not only in government but sadly even in the church when some priests and volunteers destroy the unity of the parish or the clergy with their liturgies and plans so everyone would come for you Jesus but actually for them. More sadly are these people found also in many families like the perfect father who feels he had never made any mistake in life or the manipulative mother who is convinced she knows everything; the monster brother or sister who always feels as sacrificing the most when in fact the one grabbing everything even the slightest attention. They are the “pa-bida” always feeling as the “vida” when in fact are the “contravida”, sowing divisions and animosities everywhere.
Give us the grace of humility, to always recognize you as the great and almighty God who chose to be born like a child to show us that the greatest power in the universe lies in being small like a child and not in being big. Remind us always that each of us is an inn keeper who must always make room for you in our hearts. Remind us always that we are your own, that you always come to us but sadly, many of us refuse to accept you as your beloved disciple John said, “He came to what was his own , but his own people did not accept him” (Jn.1:11). St. Luke noted that it was the first enrollment when you were born 2000 years ago, meaning, there were still others that subsequently followed that until now continues to this day with the many people claiming to be you the Messiah, acting like emperors. As we celebrate your birth today, keep us grateful to your coming and most of all for staying with us since then, give us the grace of Joseph and Mary to brave the long and dark journey to bring you forth in this world, truly the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
Second lesson you have taught me this Christmas Lord Jesus is the opposite of the first: there would always be those taken for granted, those ignored and rejected who are like the stone rejected by the builders who become the cornerstone of the building as you used to say in your preaching. Of course that is clearly you, Lord Jesus! But we thank you for making us share in your greatness. How brilliant is the wit and humor of St. Luke who said that all went to be enrolled only to reveal later in his narration that not entirely everyone. There were those unmindful of the census going on since the officials also did not care at all about them too like the shepherds who were among the poorest of the poor of that time. And the funny twist is that they got the best seats on your birth! Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” And suddenly, there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk.2:8-11,13-14).
What a beautiful story, Lord! Your birth echoes the song of your Mother Mary, her Magnificat where she proclaimed “He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk.1:51-53). Many people still don’t get it, Lord. First with you: in crucifying you on the Cross, you have changed entirely the course of human history. You who have been so ridiculed and put to shame with all the false accusations until now is the only person with the most influence in the world. The Church you have established has also gone through so many destabilization plots within and outside but still here, despite our many sins and weaknesses, and yes, amid our hypocrisies. And many of us today celebrating your birthday have just gone through so much beatings this year but now thankful before you because you have never forsaken us. And those fake gods and emperors? Trying to amuse themselves with more lies as they suffer being totally alone and empty within.
Lord Jesus Christ, it has been raining since two days ago and more rains are expected this week. Some, including me, feel your birthday today seems sad and gloomy. But as I prayed over the stories of St. Luke about the harsh conditions when you were born, I have learned that is what Christmas Day is for – a beacon of light to guide us in the many mountains and valleys, cliffs and ravines we travel in this journey of life. There would always be people who would make life difficult for us, conditions everywhere that are unfavorable to us but on this day of your birth, you are asking us to stand by you, to make that conscious decision to trust you that good things and better days are ahead of us. Christmas is about making that conscious decision to always have you, Lord Jesus Christ as our highest good in life. As our patron saint said, “From your fullness O Lord, we have all received , grace in place of grace” (Jn.1:16). AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
Photos from Google.