Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Today we begin our journey to Bethlehem. Our eyes are fixed on the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph as they journey towards the city of David in order to fulfill the prophecies. Our hearts journey with them as we rise at dawn to stand ready to welcome the coming of the Light of the world. While much of the world is still fast asleep, we hasten our steps to Church in order to encounter the Lord who comes.
We hasten to meet the Lord…or is it really the Lord drawing us to meet him? The prophet Isaiah definitely speaks about us: “the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants…them will I bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Definitely, we are the foreigners, for none of us here belong to a Jewish lineage. We are foreigners…therefore, we do not really belong to the House of David. If Joseph and Mary had the right to journey to Bethlehem because they were of the House of David, we, on the other hand, do not have that right because we do not belong to that family. And yet, the Lord allows us to make the journey for he said: “Let not the foreigner say, when he would join himself to the Lord, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.’”
The Lord does not exclude us. He does not reject us. In fact, he brings us to his holy mountain. He brings us here. He makes us joyful in his house of prayer. He accepts our offerings. Pope Francis said: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’.[Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3.)
Whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. How wonderful is it to know that the Lord is already there, waiting for us with open arms. He stands at the end of the finish line with the crown of victory in his hands. He waits for us here…and that is why we hasten to come here to Church. We hurry because we know he waits for us. We hurry to church because we know we will find him here waiting for us. He waits to make us joyful in his house of prayer.
Therefore let us take the Simbang Gabi as an opportunity for a renewed personal encounter with Jesus. On the last 9 days of the Advent Season, let us pay him more attention. If we have been distracted by the trappings of the holidays, we have 9 more days to make up for our inattention. Let us make resolute steps, not towards the bazaars, the markets, and malls, but towards the Church, the Lord’s holy mountain, to his house of prayer for all people. Let the last 9 days of Advent be more prayerfully spent. “Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.”
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!