Saturday, December 23, 2017

Simbang Gabi 1: The Common Priesthood

DECEMBER 16, 2017

The following are the homilies I wrote for this year's Simbang Gabi. In as much as the Church in the Philippines is celebrating a Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, our Parish Simbang Gabi homilies were centered on the mystery of the Priesthood.
The Interior of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
of the Diocese of  Cubao, Philippines

Jesus, I trust in you!

We celebrate the Simbang Gabi this year at the beginning of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons which is part of the Philippines’ nine-year novena in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippine islands. Therefore, let us meditate on the priesthood and the consecrated life and try to see their place in the new evangelization.

But before looking at the ministerial priesthood, we have to first affirm the priesthood of all the faithful. “The Lord Jesus makes his whole Mystical Body sharer in the anointing of the Spirit wherewith he has been anointed: for in that Body all the faithful are made a holy and kingly priesthood, they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ, and they proclaim the virtues of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2.) “The whole community of believers is priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the faithful are ‘consecrated to be a holy priesthood.’” (CCC, 1546)

“The common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace – a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit.” (CCC, 1547) Therefore, each of us is called to live a holy life, a life worthy of our Christian vocation, because in this way, we are able to offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading speaks of gentile nations who were formerly strangers but are now part of God’s chosen people. They wholeheartedly serve the Lord. They make holy the Sabbath day and faithfully keep his laws. God promised that he will bring these gentile nations to his holy mountain. There, the Lord shall receive them with joy in his holy Temple and he will accept their sacrifices.

We are these gentile nations referred to by the prophet Isaiah. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, God admitted us to his holy temple and accepts our sacrifice. But what could we give to the Lord? What could we offer him? We offer him our lives. We offer him our fidelity to his commands. We offer him our humble and contrite hearts.

The Lord in the holy gospel praised John the Baptist for his witness to the truth. “John was like a light burning brightly and people rejoiced in his light.” Like John the Baptist, we must be witnesses of truth. Our light must shine before men. Our light shall give joy to the world. This is how we must live our baptismal consecration. By Baptism, each of us was consecrated to the Lord. To be consecrated means to belong to the Lord. We are consecrated to be holy. We are consecrated to be light of the world. And this should really make us think: Do I bring light or do I bring gloom? Does my presence radiate joy or sadness? Am I witness of truth or bringer of fake news? What can I offer now to the Lord? Is my life a spiritual sacrifice worthy of him?

Let us always do what is righteous and just for the salvation of God will surely come. It will not delay. Let us live lives worthy of our identity as a priestly people. Glorify the Lord with your lives.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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