The Living Story of Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul, Christmas 2019

“The Adoration of the Shepherds”, a painting of the Nativity scene by Italian artist Giorgione before his death at a very young age of 30 in 1510.

A blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones! As we celebrate this single event that has made the most impact on mankind in our entire history, I share with you my thoughts and reflections in a Christmas prayer based on our midnight Mass gospel:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, wen Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1-7

Jesus, both the giver and the gift

A most blessed happy birthday to you dear, Lord Jesus Christ!

How funny that you are the one celebrating birthday but we are the ones expecting and receiving gifts on this day. And that is why we all celebrate your birthday – it is a living story that continues to this day when you gave us yourself as a gift to each of us!

Thank you very much for being both the gift and the giver.

Thank you for coming to us, for being like us in everything except sin to accompany us in our lives, to help us carry our cross and lighten our many burdens.

In becoming human like us, you have taught us and made us experience true humility so we can also be like you, holy and divine. Indeed, the words of St. Augustine are so true when he preached in one of his Christmas sermons:

“God became a human being so that in one person you could have both something to see and something to believe.”

St. Augustine, Sermon 126, 5

Thank you for coming to us, being born like us that we have found meaning in our lives, in our struggles, in our pains and hurts.

Because of your coming to us, we have come to believe in better future, we have come to hope and most of all, we have experienced tremendous joy in living.

Your great servant St. John Paul II perfectly said of every human person that

“Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.”

Evangelium Vitae

Help us to find something good always in us and something to believe in us because you are dwelling in us!

Chapel at the Shepherds’ Field in Bethlehem where the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the the shepherds tending their sheep under the darkness of that night. Photo by author, May 2019.

Life is what we make on earth, you planned in heaven

I love that opening phrase by your evangelist St. Luke, O Lord: “In those days” which in some versions has a more literal translation from the original Greek that says, “It came about in those days”.

As a child starting to learn how to read, I quickly memorized the letters and words of every storybook’s opening line, “Once upon a time”. Then, I got fed up with the expression as I grew up and matured because I have realized they are not true at all.

In these past 21 years being your priest, Jesus, eight years here in my first parish assignment of about 12,000 souls, you have taught me with something to see and something to believe in myself “In those days”.

In those days when I feel so insignificant, when I feel so little with my shortcomings and failures and sins, when I doubt my gifts and talents, when everything seems so wrong, that is also when I feel so close with you, when you console me too.

Like you being born during the time of the great Roman emperor Augustus, the more you came closer to us, the time you were born amid the many hardships of your Mother Mary. Even if there was no room in the inn, there was the lowly manger that welcomed you.

Yes, my sweet Jesus, life is what we make of here on earth, so difficult, so trying, sometimes frustrating but you are always there making us look up above to the Father that we just hang on with life for you have planned everything for our good in heaven.

Do not allow us to be troubled and disturbed by the mundane things of the world that are all passing.

Do not let us to be robbed of your glory and joy by being overtaken by pains and anger, hardships and struggles for you know very well what we are going through in life, of how tired we are in keeping up with our duties and responsibilities, of how hard we have tried to follow you like Joseph and Mary.

How lovely, dear Jesus, to imagine you were born in the darkness and stillness of the night of the shortest day of the year to remind us of the coming light, of the lengthening of days after.

It is in that same dark night when we see and experience our littleness and insignificance in this vast, wide world when you also make us feel our worth and value being cupped in your mighty hands, assuring us of your protection and love.

Help us to let go of our grudges and vengeance against those people who have hurt us, duped us, insulted us and be rather filled with your peace and goodwill as the angels proclaim your glory in the darkness of the night.

Atop Mt. Sinai in Egypt at midnight. Photo by Atty. Grace Polaris Rivas-Beron, May 2019.

Are we not?

Thank you Jesus for the gift of a beautiful poem I have read from a fellow blogger tonight after hearing confessions of my parishioners.

The poem said:

Are we not shepherds who were filled with fear

Who wander the fields our senses aware

Are we not a witness to our Jesus’ birth

The source of our hope beyond here on earth

Are we not in the story of our Christ to behold

In his love that’s woven of our life to be told.

This Christmas, dear Lord Jesus, let me hug you in my brothers and sisters who have made me see something good, something beautiful, something joyful amidst the many evil, ugly, and sad events of life.

It is Christmas, in those days so ordinary when you came to bless us, to make us a part of your story so beautiful, so lovely. Let me believe more in you so I can see you more, love you more, and follow you more! Amen

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