#tidbitsforChristmas (The Ultimate Christmas Gift)

Christmas-Presents-600xWhen I was still a child Christmas time for me is the most wonderful and exciting time of the year because of the gifts.  I love gifts especially when it is given to me during Christmas because it completes my childhood expectation about the spirit of Christmas.  Now that I reached adulthood it seems that gifts do not make any sense to me at all this coming Christmas.  I already received many gifts when I was a child; now it’s my time to give gifts of joy to others especially those who are deprived this Christmas.

Why is it that gifts are very important every Christmas?  Actually, giving gifts may sound acquisitive because of its nature as something materialistic or commercialistic.  But, as I reflect upon this phenomena; giving gifts for me is neither something materialistic nor commercialistic, rather it is the matter of what is inside the heart.  We give gifts not because of the material and the appearance, but because of love, respect, appreciation, gratitude, and joy.  Christmas is joy, so we give gifts in order to share the joy.  We like that each and every one of us are happy celebrating the spirit of Christmas.  Not all gifts are something material, commercial, or merely an appearance; it could also be radiated to good deeds, our presence, or even just our smile that comes from our heart.

To be honest, I don’t have any material thing to give this Christmas.  The only thing that I could give this coming Christmas is my whole self by helping through facilitating in the Christmas Sharing for the poor children that we usually do in our community.  It may sound tiring and time-consuming, but in this act of random kindness, it will be the most beautiful gift that I could ever give for the poor children this Christmas.  Just like when I was a child that I received much during Christmas, now it’s my turn to give gifts this Christmas in a form of service for those who are in need especially the poor children.  With this, I am happy to say that my Christmas is already complete because I will be sharing a smile and hope for the poor children their ultimate hopes, wishes, and dreams for this coming Christmas is to be happy and fulfilled despite the misery and poverty that they endure.

#tidbitsforChristmas (Oh Carols!)

Carol_lyrics_476x290Jingle Bells, Carols of the Bells, O Holy Night, Silent Night, etc.  These are some of the popular songs that the children are singing in every house at the start of December.  Here in the Philippines caroling is one of the best manifestations what is Christmas all about for us Filipinos.  It adds color, harmony, and rhythm that gives a chill for our ears that expects for a happy Christmas.  So that’s why Christmas will never be merrier and full of meaning here in the Philippines if there’s no Christmas carols that soothe our hearts to long for a prosperous life guided by Mary’s boy child, Jesus Christ.

I do caroling since when I was a child.  Together with the band of childhood friends, we went around the busy street of Pasay, going house to house just to sing a Christmas carol and asked for a pamasko in order to appease our efforts in singing though it was out of tune with the accompaniment of tambourine made from flattened bottle cap, stainless spoon and fork, and a drum made from old milk cans.  I miss those days especially when you were already happy receiving coins and candies from your hard work in singing a Christmas carol.  Now that I am advancing in age and wisdom those days are now memories into my heart and mind.  As I am facing and struggling all the stress and preparations this coming Christmas, I always long to be a child again simply expecting for a joy and happy Christmas, simply singing the Christmas songs, and have no worries at all to wait for Christmas.

Revisiting my childhood experiences during December-the so-called “Christmas month” reminds me of something that I really need to consider into my life; everything changes but life’s lesson will always be forever the same.  Though I feel nostalgic at this present moment seeing little children singing Christmas carols in different houses, I am proud that I experienced it.  It means to say, I became part of what it means to give a meaning for Christmas.  Hence, caroling is not on the songs we sing, on the value of money we receive, or on the candies that collect and hide on our pockets but rather caroling is all about sharing the light of Christmas that comes from the Messiah who is to come despite the cold-dark night that surrounds us and hinders us to see the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts.

#tidbitsforChristmas (The Light of Joy)

tumblr_nf21o87QEY1qb9ukto1_500He was not light, but came to testify to the light.

Today is Gaudete Sunday and it invites us to rejoice and not anymore to wear a long face because the coming of the Lord is near.  In today’s reading the Prophet Isaiah introduces to us what it means to rejoice for the coming of the Lord and what will be the prospect of His coming, i.e. to bring glad tidings to the poor.  But, this will only be realized and recognized if we acknowledge and believe in the Light.  What does it mean for us?  Why the Third Sunday of Advent focuses about the Light?  What is the connection of it to Isaiah’s proclamation about the coming and sending of the Messiah for all of us who are expecting for it?

 As I reflected upon the gospel, I realized that the Third Sunday of Advent is not just only all about rejoicing itself, but it is also all about accepting the Light with joy into our hearts.  The delight of the Third Sunday of Advent will only be sensed if we share the joy of the presence of God’s coming into those who are longing and crying for it.  Rejoicing in the Third Sunday of Advent is also all about sharing hope to those who are hopeless, healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to those who are oppressed and in darkness, and announcing a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God through humility and compassion.  These are the manifestations of the Light as we allow ourselves to be enlightened by it and as we also cooperate and collaborate with its clear invitation for all of us.  It’s obvious that when there’s no light, there’s darkness that overcast our capacity to see the goodness of an entity.  It’s the same thing with our lives; when we allow darkness to disturb our capability to aim for good and to do good; it’s absurd to give importance to the voice of the Light that is crying out into our hearts.  So, goodness is not on the appearance, but it is on our conviction to believe in the Light; and that’s the reason why the Third Sunday of Advent is all about rejoicing; rejoicing in the sense of testifying to the Light, and not enjoying without any meaning and significance at all into our lives.

Prepare Ye Way

Isaiah403-4-e1368778709947“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

The last Sunday’s gospel, we once more heard the cry of John the Baptist who prepares the Lord’s way.  We are always hear this invitation coming from the Baptist every Advent, but the question that we must ponder upon as we reflect upon the last Sunday gospel is this; as our ears are already numb in hearing the invitation of John the Baptist, did we already take it seriously?  Do we really prepare the way of the Lord and making straight His paths?  Are we 100% convince about this invitation coming from the Baptist?

What is the way that we should prepare for the coming of the Lord and what are the paths that we should make straight?  This is the question that popped-up into my mind as I reflect upon the Baptist’s invitation for all of us believers of Christ.  Actually, the Baptist does not refer to merely physical order or preparation nor Christmas decorations as our means to anticipate the coming of the Lord; rather it refers about our proper disposition and our capacity to reform our lives for His coming.  Conversion is the theme of the Baptist’s cry for all of us who are longing for the coming of the Messiah.  In life, we are really aware that we are unworthy to face the Messiah who is to come.  There are really lots of shortcomings and failures that we have which hinders us to recognize the face of God.  As I reflect upon the Baptist’s invitation, being in guilt with our loopholes is not a proper attitude and a proper anticipation for expecting the Messiah; it’s all about conversion.  Conversion is not only all about transformation or change itself, but it is all about letting our hearts to be makeover and maneuvered by perseverance, persistence, and optimism.  The question is how to start converting ourselves for the Messiah who is to come?  Conversion is possible into our lives if and only if we forgive ourselves.  Forgiving ourselves testifies what it means to be indulging with the beauty of conversation.  It is also marks the significance of loving ourselves despite the fact that we are nothing and worthless.  Forgiving ourselves is the best preparation for all of us as we ponder in our lives the value of self-conversion for the Messiah who is to come.

It’s really like a long journey as we wait for the Lord’s coming.  The Baptist’s cry reminds us that as we move on in preparing ourselves for the coming of the Messiah let us not forget that Conversion is the key for us to recognize His value and significance into our lives.  We should never be afraid in letting conversion penetrate our hearts.  That’s the only way for us to realize that we cannot seek God unless we forgive ourselves.

Why Philippines? Why Filipinos? Why December?

typhoon-ruby-dec-6-updatePhilippines, especially the Visayas and some parts of Luzon and of the Mindanao region is experiencing now the unruly effect of the super typhoon as strong as Haiyan (Yolanda) once again named Hagupit (Ruby).  Is this a curse for all of us Filipinos?  No.  Then, why God allows this thing to happen to us?  This is what I am reflecting right now as I wait for the coming of the onslaught that brings despair, trauma, destruction, and even death.  Why Philippines?  Why Filipinos?  Why December?  These are the many questions that keep on bothering me as I gaze upon the clouds overcasted by the darkness of the day.  But, experiencing this calamity should never leave us trembled and restless.  Though many times we fall, we continue to hope.  Though many times different calamities and tragedies shed us into tears, we don’t forget to laugh and smile.  And, though many times we are being left astray, we continue to move on and keep the faith.

8db76da0-7d03-11e4-af92-b3389e22d885_7dWhy does God allow this to happen to us Filipinos?  At first, I find this question a form of complain against God.  It seems that the calamity we experienced from the past and until this present time are wraths of God which show a kind of vengeance or hatred coming because of the many scandals and shameful issues that our nation had shown to the world.  But, as I deeply reflect upon this question into silence and positively thought about it, I found out something that I need to be proud of as Filipino.  God allow this to happen to us because He wants to show to the world that we Filipinos are resilient and hopeful despite the pangs of the previous super typhoons that had passed into our nation.  For us Filipinos, resilience is not only all about being like a bamboo that can withstand the wind of terror, but it is also all about the capacity to smile still while bearing and enduring the despair of the fuming weather.  While the world is suffering from the culture of desolation, anguish, torment, and depression due to the extensive influence of complexities and pessimisms; we Filipinos, through this worst scenario that we are experiencing right now, would like to show to the world that to hope and to keep the ember of faith into our hearts is still possible despite the horror of this catastrophe that ferociously ravaged our land.

God allow this to happen on us because He wants to show to the world the need for protecting and caring our Mother Earth.  It is self-evident to us that once we disrespect and destroy nature, it strikes back horribly.  There were already a lot of calamities and catastrophes that had happened and passed around the centuries, but the question is do we learn the lesson?  As of today we continue to abuse, misuse, and reduce the value of Nature and its significance into our lives.  Nature cannot be and should not be compromised by profit and commercialization, but the reverse of it is the more favorable than what is proper.  Calling all those who continue to disregard our Mother Nature; please stop it now!  May what we are experiencing right now be an eye-opener for those who continue to be indifferent about the value of Nature.  For those who remain indifferent, may this be a reminder for all of you and also for us; compromising lives for the sake of profit, fame, honor, and glory is strictly evil.

20141205_ruby_evacAs people nowadays are busy in preparing for the coming of Christmas, we Filipinos are busy in preparing ourselves for facing the blitzkrieg of the super typhoon Hagupit (Ruby).  But, why December and why in the spirit of the coming Christmas?  Actually, I don’t have the answer.  Only God knows why He allowed this to happen to us.  The only thing that I knew upon reflecting on it is this; God allow this to happen in order for us and for everybody to exercise goodness by struggling to be generous, compassionate, loving, and merciful to others; and that’s Christmas.  Only through good acts that hoping and keeping the faith is conceivable despite the dread of any ferocious calamities and tragedies.

“Be Watchful! Be Alert!”

advent_wordle1As I continue to reflect upon the Gospel last Sunday which marked the beginning of the Advent season, my attention was called by the word “Watch”!  What does it mean for me as I really prepare myself for the coming of the Messiah?  As I revisit the Gospel last Sunday these are my realizations:

  1. To be watchful means joyous expectation for the coming of Messiah. But how I may be able to attain a joyous expectation when I am full of conflicts and personal issues in my life?  It is only through conversion that a joyous expectation is possible for the coming of Messiah.  Conversion is not only all about changing our bad habits, but it is also about wearing the cloak of newness into our lives in order for us to attain the totality of change.  Once we attain the new form of our lives, Jesus assures us through these words; “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.  For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23-24)
  2. To be watchful means to embrace light. Advent season calls each and every one of us to be aware of the importance of recognizing the value of light that gives a clear vision for our life’s journey.  When there’s light, there will be no more darkness, sadness, and fear which are the three hindrances for recognizing our goodness and uniqueness.  Light symbolizes the new hope and the new beginning for us.  It shuns blindness and darkness, but it does not disregard the struggles we endure because it believes that in every person’s struggles for change sheds light and shares light.  Hence, the Advent season regards the fact that embracing the light of Christ will always be forever a sole reason for changing our hearts and casting out the dark nights of our souls.
  3. To be watchful means to have courage. Facing our own dirt in life does not mean being passive about.  It takes a lot of courage in order for us to accept the fact that we cannot be renewed and redeemed without God.  Courage adds color to what it means to be well-prepared in the coming of the Word made Flesh.  It does not boast to the weak, rather it stays humble to face the misfortunes of life.  Another thing that we should also consider as we prepare ourselves for the Christmas courageously is the fact that courage develops into our lives the significance of vigilance and alertness.  Change will never be a starting point in our life’s journey if there’s no courage and we do not give our best shot to cast out all our fears in life.  So, in this season of Advent, each and every one of us is called to be courageous expectators of the coming of Messiah which aims to be joyful and embrace the light that brings a leap of faith for our restless hearts.

Love and Truth

Wise-Quotes-41773-statusmind.comLove embraces Truth.  It’s really hard to love when you are living in lies and falsehoods.  Love does not tell lies and at the same time it does not hide the Truth.  Without Truth, love will never be something significant in our lives.  When love is true, it encompasses everything that is good, pleasing, and unique despite the fact that there’s something into our lives that hinders us to embrace it.  Only love could testify what it means to be loved in truth if and only if we regard truth as the mirror of our identity which serves as our reminder and guide.

When love is not in Truth we are like blind guides that guide a blind person.  In life, you really feel that you’re not loved if you’re not living in Truth.  It’s better to be hurt because of being sincere in loving, than to be loved under the cloak of emptiness and lies.

Though sometimes truth hurts, we cannot but indulge ourselves by it because if love is not in truth, it is not love but falsehood.  Why love must be true?  It’s really impossible for us to love when it is not fully founded in Truth.  It casts out prejudices and doubts.  It walks what it talks.  It does not discriminate nor rejects.  It listens and shows compassion or mercy for those who are rejected or unloved.

Love cannot prevail without Truth.  It’s so sad that at the end of the day, all the opportunities are wasted for us to love with a sincere heart.  How could we love when life is filled with lies and falsehoods?  The only thing that we could do in order to love in Truth is just be true and sincere to ourselves; then loving in Truth will follow