Monday, December 24, 2007

The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story never ceases to confound me.
God. Humanity. A couple. A manger. A Child. Love. Redemption. Faithfulness. Promise. Hope.
Indeed, the greatest story ever told - and which is more, it is true. It did happen.

The Birth of Jesus
(Matthew 1.18-25)
v1At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. v2When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. v3Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.
v4Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. v5He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, v6and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. v7She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger---there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
v8There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. v9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, v10but the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. v11This very day in David's town your Savior was born---Christ the Lord! v12And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
v13Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:
v14"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!"
v15When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us."
v16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.

v17When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. v18All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. v19Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them. v20The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.

May the blessing of the Birth of Christ be with us today and always.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


(the Seminario during the blessing)

Yesterday, we began the 3-day alumni homecoming at the Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary. This is in celebration of 50 years since the transfer of the seminary administration from the religious to the diocesan clergy, with Msgr. Panay as first Rector, thus.

We were not many. Most of those who have arrived are the elder ones. Hopefully, tonight, with the "commemoration dinner", more would come in.

Nevertheless, the spirit was there. The elders, now successful in their own fields and lives, manifested a contagious air of gratitude to the good old seminario. And us who are more recent (well, actually not, it has been 13 years since I graduated there) find inspiration in our manongs' spirit.

Their resolve to actively collaborate in the upkeep of the seminary and in bettering seminary formation is equally inspiring.

I know little of the elder alumni, and have had only very minimal interaction with them, but I feel a sense of connectedness.

For sure, it is the shared reality that we all experienced
, in varying ways of relevance, religiosity, resolve, or nonchalance, mediocrity or even notoriety - the lawn, the building, the classrooms, the dining hall, the study hall, the dormitories, the Rector and Prefect's Office, the basketball and soccer courts, the comfort rooms, the corridors, the nooks, the bell, the Chapel and Oratory - the formators, the teachers, the classmates and community mates, the personnel - the formation, the prayers and daily Eucharist, the spiritual direction and confessions, the study periods, the discipline, the mischief, the homesickness, the adventures and misadventures, the community programs and outing, merits and sanctions, the friendships, the mentoring, the guidance, the journey, the minor seminary life.

Bishop Jacinto Jose in his homily during the Opening Liturgy yesterday emphasized the minor seminary's formative impact - as influence and inspiration. It was a succinct way of putting it. The whole minor seminary formation package, indeed exerted influence on each one who experiences it, hopefully as an inspiration to live up to the ideals of Christian living and servant-leadership.

Keep in touch with fellow alumni through the Alumni website :

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's the now that matters

Today is the beginning of a new liturgical year – ushered in by the First Sunday ofAdvent, the Sunday after the celebration of Christ the King. It continues through 4 Sundays until December 24.

Advent is d
ivided into 2 parts - First Sunday to December 16; and December 17-24. These 2 parts correspond to the season's two-fold meaning. It is a season to remember and celebrate the First Coming of Christ, and a season reminding us to anticipate and look forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

The First Coming of Christ is what we celebrate in Christmastime: the coming of God in the flesh, the Incarnation. It happened in the past. We remember and celebrate in gratitude, awe and joy.

The Second Coming of Christ is what the readings of this Sunday until December 16 will speak about: the coming of Christ in spirit. It will happen in the future. It will be the day of our full liberation. The liturgy provides us an opportunity during Advent to reflect on this, with longing, joy and expectation, preparing ourselves for this last day.

The proper way of remembering and celebrating the First Coming of Christ, and anticipating and looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ is living our present thankfully, mindful that we have been liberated from sin and death, and living joyfully hopeful of the definitive and final coming of Christ.

We live not as people in the dark, living in the ways of sin – selfishness, perversion, lust, greed and pride. We live as people of the light, living in the ways of goodness, truth, justice and compassion.

The symbols of Advent remind us of the twofold meaning, and the essential task of the present.

The purple color of the liturgical vestments show a certain penitential character – to repent and free ourselves from sin, so that Christ may have a place in our hearts.

The Advent Wreath symbolizes the anticipation of the people of the Old Testament of the Coming of Christ – as the Christ’s Coming drew nearer, the world and humanity’s hearts are gradually illumined and illuminated. It also symbolizes the Christian ideal of our personal lives as well as our social, political, economic, religious and cultural lives – the more we get to know Christ, the more we celebrate his love in the Sacraments, the more are we liberated from the darkness of sin, the more are we shaped and guided by the light of God’s love.

In our present circumstance, there is always a temptation towards externals especially in this commercialized world. The invitation is to prepare ourselves spiritually, by more intense prayer, participation in the liturgy, and a heart more open to the needy.

Today too, we remember our brothers and sisters who have physical disabilities, those who are differently-able, or the handicapped. For us who have full physical abilities, let us be reminded of our responsibility to use our abilities properly, and to their ordered finality. For our brothers and sisters who have physical disabilities, those who are differently-able, or the handicapped, it is our task to make this world more friendly and accessible to them. Let us remember, that the greatest disability or handicap is the inability to see other people’s needs, the inability to share, the inability to forgive – the handicaps of our hearts.

May we take the season of Advent as an opportunity to truly remember and celebrate the First Coming of Christ, to truly anticipate, look forward to and prepare for His Second Coming, by living our present, freed from the handicap of selfishness, free to love.