[COLUMN] Celebrating Christmas in the spirit of Mary

WE are filled with joy as Christmas approaches. In just a few hours, we will be celebrating the Christmas liturgies: the Vigil Mass and Midnight Mass. Mary accompanies us in this joyful anticipation, as she is the ark of the covenant and the bearer of the long-promised Messiah from the lineage of David. Her spirit resides with us and the Church, characterized by her profound love for God who has showered her with loving kindness, her piety, deep sense of awe, humility, openness to God’s will, and her fidelity and obedience.

With Mary’s “yes,” hope is enlivened, and history is forever changed. An unimaginable future for all people, including the Gentiles, has been bestowed upon us by God. Our celebration of Jesus’ birth tonight is a testament to the pledge made to David: God the Father’s everlasting love manifested through the sending of His only begotten son, Jesus, who becomes the indestructible temple not constructed by human hands but by unconditional love and selfless sacrifice for the entire world.

Today and this evening, I invite you to contemplate this mystery of God’s salvation. I encourage you to embrace the spirit of Mary: to be overwhelmed with awe and joy at the profound love God has for us and to reflect upon Jesus, the Son of God, who became like us. I urge you to encounter Jesus through prayer, Christmas liturgies, and witness His transformative effects and influence in the lives of our children, families, friends, society, and the world.

Furthermore, I implore you to share this divine love with everyone. Let your faith in Jesus shine for all to see. May this Christmas be more than just a holiday for our families and friends to gather, but a true celebration of our unwavering belief and faith in Jesus.

I encourage you to perceive God’s wondrous works in the world by faithfully witnessing the Gospel through our concern for those in need, including those suffering from war, natural disasters, poverty, and persecution.

I invite you to embrace the Spirit of Mary as portrayed in today’s Gospel. Let us be receptive to God’s will, trust in what may seem impossible, and say yes to life with all its joys and sorrows. Let us heed God’s call to infuse this world with the spirit of the Gospel: love, kindness, mercy, gentleness, peace, patience, and openness to welcome all people into our lives.

I urge you to maintain hope in God despite the challenges we face in these times and our personal struggles. The true spirit of Christmas lies in feeling and believing that God has never abandoned us. He has fulfilled His promise of redemption through the birth of His Son, and He will fulfill His promise of Jesus’ Second Coming when justice and peace will prevail over all the evils of this world.

We look forward to seeing you tonight or tomorrow in the church to celebrate the profound mystery of God’s love: the birth of His Son, Emmanuel, for indeed, God is with us!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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