Wednesday, January 23, 2019

God who is a Child


FEAST OF THE SANTO NIÑO C
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
JANUARY 20, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

When he was reproached by Mary for staying behind in Jerusalem without asking their permission, the child Jesus said to her: Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house? His answer seemed impolite and rude but it was actually a revelation which Jesus made about himself. By being in his Father’s house, the child Jesus revealed who he is: He is the only begotten Son of God. The teachers of the Law were all astounded at this child’s understanding and answers because he was no ordinary child. He is the Son of God. Last Sunday, at Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan, both the Holy Spirit and the voice of the Father testified to Jesus: You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

The readings today testify to who the Santo Niño is. Many of us here are devoted to the Santo Niño. Who is the Santo Niño: he is the Son of God! Let us not forget it. The Santo Niño raises his hand in blessing us. The reason why we are blessed in him with every spiritual blessing in the heavens is because the Santo Niño is the Son of God. His Father is God and therefore he is Lord and God. If the Santo Niño were not God, then we will never be chosen in him to be adopted as children of God.

The Santo Niño holds the globe in his hand because he is the child born to us, the Son who is given to us. On his shoulders, dominion rests. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over his kingdom which he confirms and sustains by his judgment and justice now and forever. This child is Wonder-counselor, God-hero, Father-forever, and Prince of Peace.

The Santo Niño, therefore, is no ordinary child. He is God. Therefore, he must not be treated just like an ordinary child. We must revere him as God. He is not our toy, nor is he our doll, nor is he our personal pet. We do not subject him to our whims and petty pleasures. Instead, we venerate his image and revere his Holy Name. He is not our play thing. Instead, we surrender ourselves to him as St. Therese did: “I had offered myself, for some time now, to the Child Jesus as his little plaything. I told him not to use me as a valuable toy children are content to look at but dare not touch, but to use me like a little ball of no value which he could throw on the ground, push with His foot, pierce, leave in a corner, or press to His heart if it pleased him; in a word, I wanted to amuse little Jesus, to give Him pleasure; I wanted to give myself up to His childish whims. He heard my prayer.

“At Rome, Jesus pierced His little plaything; He wanted to see what there was inside it and having seen, content with His discovery, He let His little ball fall to the ground and He went off to sleep. What did He do during His gentle sleep and what became of the little abandoned ball? Jesus dreamed He was still playing with His toy, leaving it and taking it up in turns, and then having seen it roll quite far He pressed it to His heart, no longer allowing it to ever go far from His little hand.” (Story of a Soul)

This rather poetic meditation of St. Therese is the essence of devotion to the Santo Niño. Our faith in him is shown by our subjection to his Divine Will. Let our devotion to him be both mature and child-like. The revelry of dancing to the beating of drums is not enough. It should deepen into a real filial relationship with the Father. This filial relationship must imitate that of Jesus who saw it necessary to be in his Father’s house, doing his Father’s business. May the Father of Jesus and our Father give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, that we may know the hope that belongs to his call, the riches of glory in the inheritance among the holy ones.

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

The Epiphany of the Trinity


BAPTISM OF THE LORD C
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
JANUARY 13, 2019

JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!

So many people went to the Jordan River to listen to John the Baptist and to have themselves baptized and among them was Jesus. This is the implication of what the Gospel said today: “After all the people were baptized and Jesus also had been baptized…” They did not know that among them was the One of whom John referred to as the “One who is mightier than I is coming…” Jesus looked like everybody else. He was not shining with a halo as holy pictures depict him. He was like us in all things except sin, so would St. Paul say. He stood there, all wet as the rest of the people were. He stood there among the multitude of sinners. The sinless One stood among sinners and he did not look differently from them.

John the Baptist himself admitted that he did not know Jesus: “I did not know him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” And so it happened: while Jesus was praying, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in a bodily form. The Holy Spirit singled Jesus out from the rest of the drenched humanity. And the heavens opened and a voice from heaven was heard: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The objective was simple: the event took place to reveal Jesus to all. This is why the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River is one of the 3 mysteries of the Epiphany. By descending upon Jesus, the Holy Spirit singled Jesus out. And the voice of God revealed to all who this man is: He is God’s Son, his Beloved on whom God’s pleasure rests. But by revealing Jesus, God also revealed something about himself. God revealed that He is a Trinity of Persons. The baptism at the Jordan was not only Jesus’ first public manifestation. It was also the first public revelation of the Blessed Trinity: the Son emerged from the waters, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the Father publicly acknowledged him as his only begotten Son.

I want to preach about this because just before Christmas, the President said that the Trinity is silly. “How can one God be divided to 3 persons? That is silly! (kagalgalan; hangal)” But allow me to make clear this point: the Catholic Church did not invent the Trinity. The Trinity was revealed by God himself. The Trinity is God’s revelation of himself. The Church did not invent the Trinity. The Church simply listened to God as he revealed himself. If God did not reveal his inner life, if God did not reveal the Trinity, the Catholic Church would not have known it. And when did God reveal himself as a Trinity of persons? It was at the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. For the 1st time in the history of the world, the Blessed Trinity made himself known. It may be difficult for our human minds to grasp it but still we believe in it because God said it so. I believe in the Blessed Trinity because God said it and he does not lie. When people say that the Trinity is silly, they accuse God of lying because they question the credibility of his revelation. “Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.” (1 John 5:10) Did the Holy Spirit lie when he descended upon Jesus and single him out? The Holy Spirit does not lie because he is the Spirit of Truth. Did God the Father lie when he publicly claimed Jesus as His Son? The Father does not lie. “He has testified on behalf of his Son.” And if we want to be saved, we must accept in faith this Divine Testimony. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”

By publicly revealing Jesus as his only begotten Son, God publicly admitted that he is Father. The Holy Spirit constantly gives us the interior witness about Jesus as God’s Son sent by the Father. Let us hold on firmly on this faith of our baptism. Remember that we were baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is the faith that saves us. Let us reject any insinuation that this truth is silly. God is not silly. God is not a liar.

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


Epiphany: The King who Dies; the God who Sacrifices

EPIPHANY 2019
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
JANUARY 6, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Today is literally the 12th day of Christmas. This year, January 6 is the 1st Sunday of the month. We get to celebrate this year Epiphany as the 12th day of Christmas, as the carol says it should be. The magi who saw the star rising in the east, went to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new-born king of the Jews. They offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They offered gold because the child is the King of the Jews. They offered frankincense because he is God. Up until this point, we understand the propriety of the gifts. But one strange thing that they offered is myrrh. Myrrh is oil which Jews use to anoint the dead. In their effort to delay the decomposition of a corpse, they anoint it with myrrh. As a gift to a new born king, myrrh seemed inappropriate because it speaks of death which is way beyond the concern of those who rejoice over the birth of a baby.

And yet, the myrrh speaks of the very mission of God incarnate. It prophesies the death of Jesus which is the very purpose why he came down and appeared to us here on earth. It speaks of the uniqueness of Jesus as both King and God.
The magi disturbed Jerusalem with their question: “Where is the new born King of the Jews? We have seen his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” They called Jesus “King of the Jews”. In this same manner, Pontius Pilate prepared a sign to be affixed on the Cross of Jesus. The sign would read: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Where is the King of the Jews? He is up there hanging on the Cross for us. This makes Jesus unique as King. Subjects usually are prepared to die for their king. But Jesus is the King who dies for us his subjects.

One of the reasons why Jesus was condemned to die was because he called God his Father. In doing so, he made himself equal to God. Jesus claimed that he is divine. He knew that such a claim would lead him to death but he said, “If I do not say this, I will be a liar.” Worshippers kill a victim to offer their gods. But Jesus offered himself upon the wood of the Cross as a sacrifice in atonement for our sins. He who is God, is both priest and victim.

Jesus is King who dies for his subjects. Jesus is God who offers himself as a sacrifice. This fact that our King and God would be crucified and die on the Cross baffles the very logic of the world. It is so absurd that even our president could not understand it: “Paano ka makakaconcentrate kung yung Diyos mo ay nakapako sa krus…P I…ako diyos mo…ipapako mo? Ako…sasabihin ko: lightning, sunugin mo silang lahat!” The myrrh does not seem to blend with the gold and frankincense. But that is the logic of man. It is the logic of the world which to God is mere foolishness.

To the Jews, the Cross is a stumbling block. To the Gentiles, the Cross is an absurdity. But to those who are being saved, the Cross is the wisdom and the power of God. The myrrh dignifies the gold and glorifies the frankincense. Christ on the Cross is a King like no other. Christ on the Cross is God who has no equal. The reason why all of us belong to him is because he bought us at the price of his blood. We were redeemed by his death and resurrection. Therefore, in the persons of the magi, let us kneel before his cradle bed and pay him homage. Let us offer him the shining gold of our faith and charity. Let us offer him the frankincense of our humble worship. But most of all, let us offer him the myrrh of our self-abnegation. Let us die to ourselves for him who loved us and gave up his life for us.

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

Solemnity of the Mother of God: Born under the Law


Solemnity of MARY MOTHER OF GOD
Year of the Youth
January 1, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

When the shepherds went to Bethlehem, they glorified God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them by the angels. What was it that they were told? What was it that they had seen? They were told that they shall find in Bethlehem an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. That was the sign given to them and the moment they saw the infant of Mary, they already knew what it meant. They knew that this infant is the Savior who is Christ the Lord: “Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you who is Christ the Lord.” All these are summed up in the Name which today is given to the child: “He was named Jesus.” The Name “Jesus” means “God Saves.” This name tells us who the child is and what was he sent to do. He is God and he comes to save: “You are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” The Son of Mary is God, therefore he is called Lord. The Son of Mary comes to save us from sins, therefore he is called Savior.

St. Paul tells us the implication of the great mystery of the Incarnation of God’s Son: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we may receive adoption as sons.” Jesus was born of a woman named Mary. God became man. Today, he is circumcised. He became subject to the law. Circumcision is the sign of the covenant between Abraham and God. Abraham was circumcised when he was 99 years old. Today, when the eternal God entered time, he was circumcised when he was 8 days old. God, who is above the Law, became subject to the Law. He went down to our humble level and he did this for a purpose. He came to ransom us from the Ancient Law of sin which subjected all mankind. He ransomed us at the price of his Blood shed upon the Cross. This is neither absurd nor silly as the president claims it to be. Christ died because a price has to be paid. That is what ransom is all about. It is about paying a price in order to obtain the freedom of a captive. We were captives, hostages of sin. Christ liberated us by shedding his blood on the Cross and dying for us.

By ransoming us from sin, Jesus obtained our adoption as sons of God. “To those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God.” “As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out: ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son.” We are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of God. Divine Filiation is the great gift of Jesus to us. To make us his sons and daughters is the ultimate reason why God created us. He wanted us to share in his Divine life. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is that share, that access that God gives us to himself. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us testifies to our freedom. The Holy Spirit in us helps us approach God with the confidence of sons and daughters. Because of the Holy Spirit in us, we are truly rich. He is the inheritance promised to us because he brings us to communion with the Trinity even here on earth. He is our foretaste of heaven, our pledge of eternal life.

The Holy Spirit is the Blessing God gives us every year, year in and year out. Every New Year we should never fail to beg God to send us the Holy Spirit. This is why the Church, at midnight of a new year, sings “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit). More than fortune and success for the New Year, the ever abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is most important for us. Sending Him to us is the ultimate reason why the Son of God was born of a woman. So long as the Holy Spirit is with us, we have nothing to fear. As long as the Holy Spirit dwells in us, all will be well. We will always be at peace.

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


Friday, January 18, 2019

New Year 2019: Counting our days aright


NEW YEAR’S EVE 2018
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 31, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

It is the last day of 2018 and as the clock moves slowly towards midnight, people all over the world will be engaging in countdowns. There is revelry everywhere because there is something about the passing of one year to another that captures the excitement of people. Of course, we are celebrating something that is secular because the transition involved civil years. That is why the celebration all over the world has a worldly, secular character. People will be dining and dancing the night away on to a new year.

But for us who follow Christ, tonight’s countdown has a special significance. It reminds us of the way we look at time with the eyes of faith. To us, history is not just a meaningless cycle of events but a journey from a definite point of time to another definite point. History is the human journey from Creation to the end of all time, the second coming of Christ. And at the center of this human historical journey is Christ, the Lord of history, the Lord of time. That is why we divide history into two: BC (Before Christ) and AD (the year of the Lord). Pope John Paul II, in the celebration of the great Jubilee Year 2000, made us aware of this once again: the birth of Christ is the center of all human history. The Incarnation is the definitive entrance of God into human history and this momentous event changed the course of man. Before he came, all of us were on the way to perdition. But God entered history, the Eternal One entered time and space, in order to change that course. He has put a stop to this slippery descent of man and brought it to a path of redemption. Being born in time, Jesus transforms it. No longer is time a countdown to punishment. Through Jesus, time has become a countdown to redemption. That is why at the beginning of Advent, the Lord bids us to stand erect and raise our heads, for our redemption is at hand.

And that is why we count time. We pray the Psalm: “Lord, teach us to number our days aright, so that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps. 90:12) We ask for the grace to number our days aright. Yes, we number our days because our days are numbered. Time for us is not an unlimited commodity. It is something given to us in a limited way. As I have told you in the past, every year, every month, every week, every day, every hour, every minute, every second that passes brings us closer to the end…and that end is not something dismal, but something we long for because this end is our grand meeting with Jesus who will return in glory. The limited time given to us is a time of grace and mercy, an opportunity offered by the Lord to us to work out our earthly life in keeping with his divine plan and decide our ultimate destiny. (CCC, 1013) And this time which keeps going forward will never return. Once it passes, it is gone forever. There is no replay. There is no take two. You miss it…move on to the next. And remember, it is running forward faster than you think. This is why we must take advantage of every second, every minute to advance in grace and holiness. St. John Bosco said, “Do good while you still have time.” Yesterday, we saw Jesus advance in wisdom, age and favor before God and men. As 2018 is passing, can we truly say that we have advanced? Surely, we have advanced in age. We have become a year older definitely…and nothing can stop this. But have we advanced in wisdom? Did we learn from our mistakes? Have we become more understanding and more loving? Have we matured in thought and action? Have we become more discerning of the ways of the Lord? Or are we still gullible to the devil’s deceptions? Have we advanced in favor before God and men? Have we become more pleasing to God? Have we become more respectable before others? Am I a better person today than last year? Am I holier now than before?

Tonight is the time to sit in silence and reflect before God. How much time I wasted tinkering my gadgets and missing out on the people around me, the people who love me? How many opportunities to deepen my relationship with God have I wasted? How many opportunities for love and communion have I passed? For this, let us beg forgiveness. Lord, I can never take back the time passed. I am sorry.

Tonight is the time to sit before the Lord and ask him: Lord, how can I rectify my ways? How can I make up for lost time? How can I do better? This is what Resolutions are all about. Make your resolutions and seriously take them to heart. Do not immediately abandon them because you do not know if you will still be here next year. Make every second count and you will be wiser. “Lord, teach us to number our days aright, so that we may gain wisdom of heart.”

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

Raising children for God


FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY C
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 30, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The issue of parental upbringing came to the fore with the bully video that went viral before Christmas. People began to ask: What happened to the kid that he grew up to be an arrogant bully? Public attention went to his parents. They began to ask: What kind of parenting did he receive? In fact, in a TV program, the bully’s father, apparently fed up by all these questions, texted the host: “Huwag mo akong turuan kung paano ko palalakihin ang aking anak.”

When Mary reproached (sumbat) Jesus for staying behind in Jerusalem without their knowledge, she gave Jesus the opportunity to teach about parenting. She said: “Son, why have you done this to us? Did you not know that your father and I searched for you with great sorrow?” Jesus said: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I have to be in my Father’s house?” Contrary to what many parents think that their children are theirs and that these are raised according to their own liking, Jesus, in these words, is telling Mary and Joseph: “I am yours but also not yours. I belong to you but also not to you. I belong to the Father and I must be found in my Father’s house. I must do what the Father sent me to do.”

Parents must always remember that their children are theirs but not totally theirs. They belong to the Father in heaven. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.” God entrusted his children to them. Therefore, parents fulfill the role of stewards. They raise children not for themselves but for the Father. Dear parents, you are raising sons and daughters for God. Therefore, you do not raise your children to become like yourselves. You raise them to become like Jesus because Jesus is the Son of God and therefore, he is the model of all Christian children. Most parents want their children to grow up resembling themselves. No! Let your children grow up to resemble Jesus. Your ultimate goal is not to lead your children to a successful career. Your goal must be to help them become saints. If you really love your children, you want them to go to heaven for all eternity. Therefore, teach your children to do the Father’s business. Help them discern the Father’s will at all time. “We keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment us this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us.” In the end, when you bring up God-fearing children, you will have loving children.”

Bring your children to the temple as Hannah did to Samuel and offered him to God’s service. Bring them to the temple as Joseph and Mary did to Jesus. Teach them to worship God and they will be blessed: Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord. Teaching them to love God will eventually lead the way to real obedience to you. Jesus went down to Nazareth and was obedient to them because he understood that his obedience to his human parents expressed his obedience to his heavenly Father. When children are raised up to become like Jesus, they grow up like him: advanced in wisdom and age and in favor before God and men.

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

Christmas Mass of the Day 2018: The Gift of Divine Filiation


CHRISTMAS MASS OF THE DAY 2018
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 25, 2018

JESUS, I trust in you!

Christmas mornings for me are times of awe and wonder. My fondest childhood memories are those of Christmas mornings. I woke up with great expectation because I knew that I would find gifts beneath the tree and gifts from Santa who paid a visit the night before. I continue to wake up on Christmas morning with that same childlike wonder. I do hope that you would do the same.
Oftentimes, we say that Christmas is for children…and I believe it still to be so. It is because only by remaining like a child can we truly appreciate the great mystery that happened today. Of course, we may be overwhelmed by the “adult” concerns like the expenses that we must put up with in order to celebrate Christmas. But such should not deprive us of the joy that Christmas should give us. If I were asked, “What do you associate Christmas mornings with?” I would immediately answer: “The gifts.” And it is true: we associate Christmas mornings with gifts. It is the time when families open their gifts to each other. But we must not forget to open the best gift of Christmas…and that would be the gift of God’s only begotten Son born to us this day.

“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God…” This is the child we find in the manger. He is the Son “whom God made heir of all things and through whom he created the world.” This is the Son who is “the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.” He comes wrapped in swaddling clothes and lain on a manger. Do not be deceived by the wrappings. The world underestimates him because he seems too small, too powerless. What can a child do? How much can he give? “He was in the world…but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”

Do not underestimate him because of his humble appearance. Accept this gift of the Father because “to those who accept him, he gave the power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation, nor by human choice, nor by a man’s decision, but by God.” He transforms us and makes us like himself. He makes us children of God. This is the gift which no one but Christ could ever afford to give us: Divine Filiation. This is the richest gift because through it, we become heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ, and heirs of heaven. Nothing can be more precious. Nothing can be more valuable than this. “From his fullness we have all received, a grace in place of grace…grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”

Today, we see that Son who is at the Father’s side. Today he comes to us and dwells among us. He reveals to us the Father whom we do not see. He gives to us the inheritance we do not have. He made himself poor…and because of this, we are rich. What a gift on Christmas morning! He is the gift that only God can give.

Merry Christmas! 

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



Christmas Mass at Midnight 2018: Silent Night, Holy Night


CHRISTMAS 2018
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 25, 2018

JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU!

If people ask me about my favorite Christmas song, I immediately answer: “Silent Night.” My mother told me that on my first Christmas on earth (December 1968), I cried whenever a caroler sang “Silent Night.” The same happened whenever it is played over the radio. Until today, the song haunts me in a very special way. This is the reason why wherever I am assigned, I always insist on singing “Silent Night” as entrance song for Midnight Mass. Apart from sentimental reasons, this song was really composed for the Midnight Mass. The story goes that in the Church St. Nicholas in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, the organ broke down and it was impossible to repair it in time for midnight Mass. The priest, Fr. Josef Mohr. inspired by the peace of the surroundings, wrote a poem and asked Franz Xaver Gruber to compose the music for it. “Silent Night” was first sung on Christmas Eve of 1818…exactly 200 years today.

The song captured the atmosphere of the night of the Savior’s birth. Bethlehem was teeming with people because Caesar Augustus declared a world-wide census. Everybody had to return to their homeland to comply to this decree. St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin went home to Bethlehem just like everybody else who came from the Clan of King David. The situation there might have been chaotic but let us not forget that the census was made possible because the whole world was at peace. As there was no room in the inn, Mary and Joseph were forced to take shelter in a cave where animals were made to rest during the night. It was the ideal place for the birth of the Savior because it was away from the bustling hotels which were filled for the night. It was a very private place…a quiet place…for animals really rest at night. We humans have the tendency to disturb the silence of night time…but not the animals. At night, they simply kept silent because that is how they really are. The background of silence was the best context of the birth of the Word of God on earth. For when can the Word be heard most if not in the middle of silence?

It was a silent night. It was a holy night. Silence does not necessarily imply holiness. Sometimes, silence is imposed by threats (dulot ng banta). Bugbog o dignidad? Threats like this oftentimes condemn people to silence. (tumutulak sa mga tao na manahimik na lang) People keep silent because they do not want to get involved. Ayaw madamay. Others keep silent so as not to further aggravate the aggressor. (lalong mayamot) Tumahimik ka na lang para di ka masaktan. Fear also forces people to be silent. Wag kang kikibo kung ayaw mong masaktan.

But the silence of that night was not caused by fear. Rather, it was caused by love: Son of God, Love’s pure light; radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace. The Son of God appeared on earth tonight. He shines in the middle of darkness as Light from Light. But this light is not invasive (mapanghimasok) like the flash light of an arresting police officer. This light is the radiance (kariktan) of God’s face, a face that appears not to condemn (magparusa) but to redeem. It is not a light that hurts the eye. But rather, it is a radiance that attracts, a countenance (mukha) that invites contemplation because it is a loving and gentle (maamo) countenance. This holy infant, so tender (mayumi) and mild (maamo), sleeps in heavenly peace. Thus, we come to him in silence not because we do not want to startle him (Magbiro ka na sa lasing, wag lang sa bagong gising.) but because we want to whisper to him our love and affection. We love him because he “appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age…” Now, we are at peace because he is our peace with the Father and with one another. On this night of his birth, the only song that pierced the silence of the night is that of the heavenly multitude that sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Jesus himself told us that when we enter a house, we should say: Peace be upon you. And he said that if a peaceful person lives them, that peace will rest on him. Tonight, he entered our world and the angels greet us “peace on earth.” Are you a peaceful person? Are you at peace with God? Are you at peace with each other? Are you at peace with yourself? If you are at peace, then God’s favor rests on you. It means that you live within the scope of the silence of that holy night.

Tonight, let us approach the new-born King in silence. Let us beg him: O Prince of Peace, with humility you come to us. In similar humility, we come to you and beg you: let your peace come upon us tonight. Where there is hatred, bring us love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Prince of Peace, Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace. Grant us your everlasting peace.

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



Simbang Gabi 2018 9: The Dawn before Christmas morning


SIMBANG GABI 2018 9
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 24, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Simbang gabi ends today. We have been coming to Mass for 9 dawns already and the novena fittingly ends with a clear reference to the dawn: “In the tender compassion of our God, the Dawn from on us will break upon us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet on the way of peace.” (Sa kagandahang loob ng ating Diyos na magpapadala sa atin mula sa kaitaasan ng isang araw na sumisikat upang liwanagan ang mga nakaupo sa kadiliman at sa lilim ng kamatayan , upang ituwid ang ating mga yapak sa daan ng kapayapaan.)  Advent commemorates that long wait for the coming of the Savior. It was a waiting in the darkness of error and sin. St. Peter spoke of it: “We also have the message of the prophets, which has been confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to this message, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (Sa gayon ay tumitibay ang sinasabi ng mga propeta: mabuti ang inyong gagawin kung mamasdan ito, na gaya ng isang ilawan na tumatanglaw sa dakong madilim, hanggang sa pagbubukang liwayway at sa pagsikat ng tala sa umaga sa inyong mga puso.)  (2 Peter 1: 19) The world waited in the dark with only God’s revelation, his word of promise, as a lamp to look at until the dawning of the promised day and the rising of Christ, the morning star in our hearts.

John the Baptist was born and his birth puts an end to the long silence of God. For a long time, God sent neither prophet nor prince to his people. It was as if God got fed up with the constant adultery of his people that he decided to give them the “silent treatment.” The nine month silence of Zechariah was a sign of this. Remember that Zechariah was made mute by the angel who appeared to him before John was conceived. And when the child was circumcised and was named “John”, Zechariah’s tongue was loosened. He began to speak in prophecy. At last, God speaks to his people. At last, he has sent a prophet to them. And the purpose of the sending of the prophet was to prepare the way for the coming of the Word of God himself: “You, my child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Ikaw naman, sanggol, ay tatawaging propeta ng Kataas taasan, sapagkat mangunguna ka sa Panginoon upang ihanda ang kanyang daraanan, upang ituro sa kanyang bayan ang kaligtasan sa kapatawaran ng kanilang mga kasalanan.)

The birth of John was the sign that the long wait is about to end. “The night is far spent and the day draws near…” so would St. Paul say. Soon the darkness will be over. The night will give way to the dawn. The Light of the world will be born and he will dispel the darkness of error, sin, and death. And when the day comes, we shall all see what was hidden from us under the cloak of darkness. When the darkness of sin is lifted up, we shall see how beautiful the world was meant to be. We shall see how wonderful is the life that God intended to give us. On that day, we shall realize how much the devil has stolen from us and what he has deprived us of.

Dawn is the beginning of day. It is a fresh start, a new beginning. Tired and weary, we rest our bodies in sleep. We wake up fully refreshed at dawn. Whatever mistakes we have done, whatever filth we have incurred, all these will pass away together with the darkness that is dispelled by the first streaks of the light. The Lord allows us to rise to a promise. Dawn is the opportunity to start all over again.
And this is the dawn of Christmas morning. Most of us have wonderful memories of childhood Christmas mornings. I have my own. When I was a child, I woke up on Christmas mornings always with a sense of awe. I was awed by the gifts beneath the Christmas tree and by the goodies left by Santa on the socks I hang on the wall. I hope, that tomorrow, on Christmas morning, all of us will awake with child-like wonder. Let us be like wide-eyed children as we behold the gift on God beneath the Tree of the Cross: his only begotten Son who will be born of the Virgin. When you behold him, pray to him and ask him to take away your sorrows and wipe away your tears. Ask him to dispel your darkness and drive away your fears. Ask him to forgive your sins and bring you to forgive others as well. Soon, we shall see the promise of Christmas morning. Tonight, let us go to sleep with hope in our hearts. Whatever darkness you are going through, it will come to end. The dawn from on high shall break upon us!

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

Simbang Gabi 2018 8: The Messenger who goes before the Lord


SIMBANG GABI 2018 8
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 23, 2018
 
Jesus, I trust in you!

Advance party…this is the most appropriate description I can give of the birth of John the Baptist. If there is any significance in this birth, it is not that he was sort of a miracle baby born to aged parents. It is also not that his father’s tongue was loosened on the day of his circumcision. The significance of this birth is described by the prophet Malachi: I will send my messenger before you to prepare the way before you.”  This baby is no ordinary messenger. He was likened to the Prophet Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets. He had to come in the spirit of the greatest prophet because the one who will be born after him, the one whose path he must prepare, is the Almighty God. “Who can endure the day of his coming and who can stand at his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire and fuller’s lye; he will sit as a refiner and a purifier. He will purify Levites like gold and silver.” Obviously, the preparation needed is more than just planning parties and banquets. It would involve much more than gifts and decorations. Because the one coming is Almighty God, preparing for him will involve purification from sin so that the worship we shall offer to him will be truly pleasing and acceptable to him.

The advanced party is now here…it only means that the Lord will follow soon. In fact, in (2) a day’s time, it will be Christmas morning. Are you prepared for it? You have probably made a list of things to do and of people to send gifts to. Have you made your list and checked them twice? But with Noche Buena and gifts prepared, can you really say that all is set? How about your soul? Are you purified enough? Have you gone to confession? Malachi said: “He shall turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Have you mended broken relationships? Mga kabataan, may atraso ba kayo sa inyong mga magulang? Nakahingi na ba kayo ng tawad? Parents, have you neglected your children? Have you made up for your neglect? Bully boy whose video went viral definitely was the product of parental neglect. For if it were not so, then how did he grow up filled with so much hatred? Obviously money is not the only element of child rearing. More important than money would be time, attention, and discipline. How is your family? Is it prepared to welcome the Lord? Are you now reconciled and at peace with each other? Perhaps, if you have been concerned with external preparations and have neglected the spiritual and relational preparations, you have the last two days to fix things and so be prepared for the Lord’s coming.

“Look up and see: your redemption is at hand.” It is only when we are spiritually prepared that we can recognize the great gift the Lord bestows upon us. And believe me…the Lord has shown us so great a favor. It will be just so sad to miss it simply because we were not prepared to see it. Ask the Lord to silence your heart so that you may hear his voice. Ask him to open your eyes so that you may recognize him who comes. Ask him to purify and humble your heart so that you may welcome him with great joy.

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Simbang Gabi 2018 7: A Young Girl's Prophetic Song


SIMBANG GABI 2018 7
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 22, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Magnificat is an impressive song which oftentimes is unappreciated because when it is sung, we seldom get past the first verse. Of course, Our Lady acknowledged that God has done mighty things for her and therefore, all generations will call her blessed. But the song is not just about what God has done for her. It was also about how God intervened into human history and inverted its paradigms: “He has shown the strength of his arm, he 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 handed…” What is wonderful about this song is that it was sung by a 15 year old girl. Such concerns were way beyond the comprehension of a 15 year old. It was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit himself…for how else could a 15 year old sing of these? I am of the opinion that the Magnificat is a clear reflection of the Beatitudes that were declared by our Lord himself: the Lord himself declared the blessedness of those who are accounted as negligible by the world.

A 15 year old girl singing a prophetic song…shouldn’t this be the model of our young people? The Magnificat is an invitation to all the youth to elevate their concerns beyond trivialities like fashion, gadgets, and other self-centered issues. Look around you…are you satisfied with what you see? Do you think that hunger and misery amidst a throw away culture is really right? Do you think that it is right to get your way simply because you are powerful? Apparently, the notorious bully of Ateneo thinks that his taekwondo skills gives him the right to impose himself on everybody whom he perceives is weaker than him. Is it right for a young 14 year old like him to be abusive of the little power that he and his family has? Young people, what are your concerns? Do these transcend your little world of comfort? Are you capable of going beyond yourselves so that you can see the misery of others? Say not that you are young…because the Kingdom of God is your concern. You must contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God by using what you have and who you are to make the world less miserable, less unjust, less cruel. Your youthful idealism must drive you to seek for a better world and in the end, “HUWAG KAYO PAKAKAIN SA SISTEMA.” Youthful idealism will end up meaningless if we begin to “dance with the world” by compromising principles for pay-offs or for a little bit of fame and power. Hindi lahat ng bagay ay nabibili…kasama na diyan ang prinsipyo at ang paninindigan. Hindi lahat ng nabibili ay nagpapaligaya.

Dear young people, let your idealism make you hunger and thirst, not for success, fame and fortune, but for the Kingdom of God. Be hungry for righteousness. Mourn for the prevalence of sinful structures in society. Work for justice by being just and fair. Work for peace by being peacemakers and by resisting temptations to be violent. Be compassionate to the poor. And live simply so that you can always have something to share. Huwag lang panay ang sarili ang isipin natin.
As for the mighty and powerful, balang araw, babagsak din sila. Just wait and see. The Kingdom of God, which is built with blood and sweat, this alone will remain standing for ever.

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

Simbang Gabi 2018 6: Empowered by the Holy Spirit


SIMBANG GABI 2018 6
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 21, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Upon discovering from the angel that her elderly cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, Mary set out in haste to visit her and attend to her needs. But it was not her alone who went to visit nor was Elizabeth alone who was the object of the visit. Mary was carrying in her womb the Son of God who had just been incarnated. On the other hand, John the Baptist has been living in his mother’s womb for six months then. Mary went to visit Elizabeth. Jesus went to visit John. Mary went to visit Elizabeth to help her through a difficult pregnancy. Jesus went to visit John to sanctify him with the Holy Spirit even though he was still in his mother’s womb: “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,” so said the angel to Zechariah at the temple. Little did Mary realize that she was doing more than just assist her cousin for at that moment when John was sanctified in his mother’s womb, Jesus was already saving him. That moment of charity became a moment of salvation. Beneath what was visible, something invisible was wonderfully taking place.

The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and thus made the Incarnation possible. But let us not forget that the Holy Spirit did something more in Mary. He inspired her to go to Elizabeth. In fact, the conversation between Mary and Elizabeth was a Spirit-filled conversation. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped for joy and she, filled with the Holy Spirit, declared Mary’s blessedness as Mother of the Lord.

Young people, the Holy Spirit whom John received in his mother’s womb is the same Holy Spirit we received on the day we were baptized. He is the same Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary and empowered her. Thus, you and I are empowered also by the Holy Spirit. He empowers us with his supernatural gifts. As our helper, the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live lives that radiate the goodness of God. He helps us to be who God created (intended) us to be. He is the power who sustains, energizes, and keeps us on a holy path. The Holy Spirit makes us holy. He purifies us from our sins through the Sacrament of Confession. He helps us convert and be Christ-like. He transforms us into the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit directs and helps us to do the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit imparts to us gifts that will help us serve the Church. He empowers us to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives. He pours on us the love of God to sustain us through difficult moments. He keeps hope alive in us through such moments by reminding us that we are constantly loved by God. He helps us pray most particularly when it seems too difficult to pray because our sorrows are too great. He reminds us of what Jesus said and taught us, especially when the trials seem to be too great. And most of all, the Holy Spirit makes us witnesses for Jesus. As the Holy Spirit pointed out to John the Baptist the hidden presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary, so also does he point out the hidden presence of Jesus to the world. This is what we testifies to us. He keeps reminding us that the Lord is near. He reveals to the world the Gospel and he does this through us. Therefore, we should not shy away from being advocates for Christ. Nor should we worry about what to say. The Holy Spirit will put these words on our lips. And those words will be powerful words. Look at what the Holy Spirit placed on the lips of Mary. It was just a greeting but when this greeting reached Elizabeth’s ears, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Through that greeting, John was sanctified.

We are an empowered people. Baptism gave us the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit make us go in haste to bring the Gospel to our friends and to all people. Young people, you are gifted. More than just your innate talents, you are gifted with something more. You have received the Holy Spirit. Go and share the Gospel. In the power of the Holy Spirit, be disciples. In the power of the Holy Spirit, make disciples.

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

Simbang Gabi 2018 5: Open your Door to the Redeemer


SIMBANG GABI 2018 5
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 20, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

The appointed time has come and the long wait will soon be over. It was the time for God to send his Son to redeem the world. And so, he sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth to a virgin who was betrothed to Joseph. And the virgin’s name was Mary. Why was the angel sent? He was sent to ask Mary for her consent to the Divine Plan that she will bear a Son who will be the Son of the Most High, the ruler of a Kingdom that will have no end. Is it not strange that God should do this? After all, He can do whatever he pleases. He can do all things. He can always have his way. What is he in power for if he could not enforce his will?

And yet, such is the humility of God. The act of becoming man is humbling in itself for God. God is almighty…the universe could not contain him. There is nothing in the universe that does not owe its existence to Him. And yet, in his desire to redeem us, God took the form of a slave, being born in our human likeness. And true enough to his self-emptying (kenosis), he politely knocks at the door of the heart of Mary. He sent his angel to plead with her: Please accept my Son…he will be sent on the mission to save the world. Allow him to take flesh from you and reside in your womb for nine months. Allow him to be nurtured and to be raised by you.

The humility of God: he comes to do us a favor. He comes to save us…and yet he still asks for Mary’s consent. In humility, he comes to Mary and through Mary, he comes to us. He did not force Mary to take him in. He did not want Mary to accept him if it were against her will. Mary enjoyed freedom of will. In the 1st reading, Ahaz was told: Ask the Lord for a sign, let it be as deep as the nether world or high as the heaven. Ahaz close to reject the offer: I will not ask…I will not tempt the Lord! Mary was allowed to express her hesitation: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” The angel patiently explained to her how the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and make it possible. All she needed to do is to say “Yes!” And Mary did! She said: “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, let it be done according to your word.” That consent, given in freedom, was the key. Through that consent, Mary’s life was changed. Through that consent, the world will never be the same. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us!

Many young people hesitate to open their hearts to Christ. They fear that Jesus will make many demands that will curtail their freedom. They want to enjoy life and to them, it can be done only if they kept away from Jesus. But none is farther from the truth. Away from Jesus, there is no freedom…but only slavery. There is no fulfillment, but only emptiness. There is no contentment because there will always be something lacking. Why is this so? It is because God has created in our hearts a vacuum that only he can fill. God has made us for himself and our hearts will always be restless until we rest in him!

At the inauguration of the World Youth Day in Cologne, Pope Benedict dared the youth: “Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy, has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With Mary, say your own ‘yes’ to God, for he wishes to give himself to you…If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.’”  

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

Simbang Gabi 2018 4: A Life of Purpose

SIMBANG GABI 2018 4
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 19, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Even before they were conceived and were born, both Samson and John the Baptist had a purpose for living. These were both revealed by angels to their own parents. The angel said to the mother of Samson that her son will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines. The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah that his son will prepare a people fit for the Lord. Samson was consecrated to God from the womb. John will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. Being consecrated to God means that a person belongs to him. This is a sign of God’s love and mercy towards the promised child and to the parents who will receive him from the Lord. Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah, declared: “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he saw it fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

The Responsorial Psalm sings of the praises of God coming from a person who recognized the Lord’s singular love for him. “You are my hope, O Lord, my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength. I will treat of the mighty works of the Lord; O God, I will tell of your singular justice. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.” (Ikaw ang aking pag-asa, O Diyos ko; ang aking pinanaligan, Panginoon, mula pa sa aking pagkabata. Mula pa sa aking pagsilang ikaw na ang umaalalay sa akin; mula pa sa sinapupunan ng aking ina ikaw na ang aking lakas. Isasalaysay ko ang kapangyarihan ng Diyos; O Panginoon, ipapahayag ko ang katangi-tangi mong kabanalan. O Diyos, tinuruan mo ako mula pa sa aking pagkabata, at hanggang ngayon ay ipinahahayag ko pa ang iyong mga kababalaghan.) These words should be proclaimed by all people, and especially by the youth. It is because like Samson and John the Baptist, each of us were created for a life of purpose (may layunin ang buhay). We do not lead meaningless lives because God always has a reason for creating something. He does not create anything without meaning or purpose. The mere fact that we were created…the mere fact that we exist is the proof that we have a purpose for existing (may dahilan sa pamumuhay). There is always an answer for the question: Para saan ka bumabangon? Para kanino ka bumabangon?

Perhaps, for some, their purpose is not clear because they keep on looking at themselves in reference to people who do not seem to appreciate the gift of their persons. And this is sad. When we feel unappreciated, it is because we fail to see ourselves the way God looks at us. Each person is a gift. Samson was God’s gift not only the Manoah and his wife. He was God’s gift to the people of Israel who are to be delivered by him from the Philistines. John was God’s gift not only to Zechariah and Elizabeth but to the people who will be prepared by him for the Lord. You are a gift…otherwise, you will not be here on earth. One day, that purpose will be clear…you will mean something to someone because right now, you mean something to the Lord. No one is useless because God does not make trash.

Dear young people, you are beloved by God. From your mother’s womb, God called you to belong to him. Place your hope in the Lord. Trust him. Let the Lord be your strength. Let your life be one long song of thanksgiving to the Lord. You can only thank the Lord the moment you recognize that you are a gift. You are a gift of God to those who love you. You are a gift of God to the world. You are a gift of God to yourself. You did not create yourself. God did. And because of this, you have a purpose. God does not create meaningless creatures. God does not do things without a purpose.

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

Simbang Gabi 2018 3: St. Joseph and Vocation


SIMBANG GABI 2018 3
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 18, 2018

JESUS, I trust in you.

In the genealogy of Jesus, St. Joseph was not called the father of Jesus. He was simply referred to as the husband of Mary who, in turn, was called the Mother of Jesus. This clearly pointed to us that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. The Gospel reading today tells us that when Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child. In Jewish custom, a betrothal meant that a man and a woman have promised themselves to each other. The man is given a year to build their house and upon completion of the task, he goes to the house of the bride to claim her and bring her home with him. This was a beautiful custom which is unlike the co-habitation or living-in which many people do today. Today, couples live like husband and wife even without the benefit of marriage. They make a claim on each other’s persons and bodies but without asking God to seal their marital covenant. This was not the case for Joseph and Mary. They promised themselves to each other but they have not yet lived together because it was not yet the time. They had to wait for the proper time when they can consummate their marriage.

But before this could happen, Mary was found to be with child. But her pregnancy was not on account of fornication. Joseph respected Mary and protected her virginity. And Mary, on her part, was faithful to Joseph. Her pregnancy was the fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit. God had a special plan for mankind and this he intended to accomplish through Mary. St. Joseph had a dilemma. He was torn between his love for Mary and her exalted vocation. Could he keep Mary for himself or should he, out of generosity, step back quietly to allow God some space in order to accomplish his plan for her? He must have silently agonized over this problem. All he wanted was to accomplish God’s will. The Lord answered his prayer and sent the angel to convey his answer: “Do not be afraid to take Mary for your wife.” God wanted St. Joseph to be husband to Mary and also to be father to his only begotten Son. Mary will give God’s Son his flesh. Joseph will give him his name. Because of Joseph, Mary’s Son will be called “Son of David.” Joseph will make Jeremiah’s prophesy a reality: “I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as King he will reign and govern wisely.” When God’s will was made clear to him, Joseph rose up to fulfill it. He took Mary and took her home with him as his wife.

Young people are often confronted by the question of vocation. What is the direction my life should take? Where is this leading me? Is this the right person for me? Am I called to this way of life? While there are many things to consider when making life choices, the most important consideration should be the discernment of God’s will. It is only in fulfilling God’s will where true happiness and a sense of fulfillment be found. And God’s will can only be discerned in constant prayer. It is to the praying heart that God reveals his will. When confronted by a difficult choice, do not simply ask yourself. Rather, ask God through prayer. This prayer is not a quick visit to the church for an Our Father or a Hail Mary. Rather, it is silently coming constantly before God. We should keep asking God until he makes his answer clear. St. Joseph will prove to be a reliable companion for discernment. Ask St. Joseph to help you pray to the Lord. Seek for the Lord’s enlightenment. Always bring everything to prayer.

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








Simbang Gabi 2018 2: The Lion of the Tribe of Judah


SIMBANG GABI 2018 2
YEAR OF THE YOUTH
DECEMBER 17, 2018

JESUS, I trust in you!

Advent makes a significant turn today. From being a preparation for the Lord’s 2nd coming, today it becomes a direct preparation for Christmas. And our journey towards the day of the Lord’s Nativity begins with the famous genealogy of the Lord Jesus. To many young people, the reading today may sound boring. After all, it is just a list of names of the human ancestors of the Lord. This is how it seems to be because we never made the serious effort to know the stories beyond the names. If only we made that effort, we will find out that these ancestors led very colorful and intriguing lives. Let us take Judah for example.

Jacob wanted to marry Rachel and worked for it for 7 years but later on was deceived by Lot to marry the elder sister Leah. And so, Jacob had to work for another 7 years to take the younger Rachel for his bride. Of course when they were married at last, Jacob showed preference for Rachel whom he loved more than Leah. The Lord saw this and so he favored Leah and Rachel did not bear children.  Leah bore Jacob his first 3 sons and she thought that she will be loved on account of them. But still she did not earn her husband’s love. When she gave birth to her 4th son, Leah said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She named him “Judah” meaning “praise” or “thanksgiving.”

The Book of Genesis today tells us that Judah was destined to be great among the sons of Jacob. He was destined to be the ancestor of the Israelite kings. He rose in leadership because his 3 elder brothers were disqualified on account of sexual misconduct of Reuben and the bloody revenge by Simeon and Levi. Jacob blessed Judah in the presence of his brothers: “The sons of your father shall bow down to you…Judah crouches like a lion recumbent – the king of beasts.” The fourth son of the unloved wife will be the ancestor of King David…and later on of Jesus. Jesus was the son of David, the son of Judah, the son of Abraham.

God prepared the family to which Jesus will be born in a truly amazing way. If we look at the lives of each ancestor of the Lord, we will discover very scandalous cases. Tamar’s relation with Judah was illicit because she was his daughter-in-law. At the very root itself, we find the defects of the tree. No wonder David’s kingly line will emerge from an illicit affair with Uriah’s wife which eventually led to murder. Kung ano ang puno siya ang bunga.

If this were true of Judah and David, how could Jesus have emerged unaffected by the “sins of his fathers?” The answer is rather simple. Look at the end of the genealogy. It spoke of Joseph not as the father of Jesus but as the husband of Mary. We all know that St. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. He stood as the legal father of Jesus but never was he Jesus’ biological father. “Joseph was the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.” Jesus did not inherit the generational sins of his family. He is the seed of the woman. Jesus was born to redeem the sins of his people…but first of all the sins of his ancestors.

Sometimes we wonder why we have become what we are. It is important to look at our personal lineage (angkan). To understand ourselves, we need to look at the ancestors who came before us. Traits are inherited and so are sins and defects. (This is true even biologically as there are families that are prone to certain diseases…we always say that it runs in the family.) Sometimes, we suffer the curses incurred by our ancestors. However, we should never feel helplessly trapped in this situation. There is a way out. As Jesus cleansed his own family with his own blood, so also should we ask him to cleanse our family with his blood. With faith in our Lord and in his Blessed Mother, we must ask that the Cross be placed between us and any unhealthy relationships.

The genealogy of Jesus shows us that the Lord hails from a royal line. The Kingship of Jesus gives fulfillment to the blessing of Jacob for Judah. Jesus is the powerful King who defeats the enemy. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah who has conquered and destroyed the work of the devil. If only we put our faith in him and have recourse to the Church which is his Kingdom of earth, we can rise from the faults of our fallen generation. Faith in Christ empowers us in this spiritual battle. Jesus is the Father’s gift to fallen humanity. In Jesus, we are beloved by God.

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