Next to hope

IT didn’t feel like Christmas last Friday with all the depressing news we heard about the pandemic. The headlines blared with the high death toll, the continuous rise of infections, and many of us quarantining.

But it’s the Christmas Season! We’re celebrating the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God!

The Gospel on Christmas morning (John 1:1-8) summed up Incarnation’s message—the Word Made Flesh.  The Messiah was the Word, who was with God from the beginning.
“All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!”

How true are these words from John’s Gospel! Amid the darkness of the pandemic — the hundreds of thousands of people who died from the horrible virus and those who are suffering from it — we still can proclaim that Jesus Christ is the light!

Personally, Jesus has been my light in this time of darkness, along with his mother, Mary, who stands beside him. Jesus and Mary give me comfort to overcome any pain and grief, look at death, sickness, and suffering from eyes of faith that there is hope beyond all these sorrows.

I know that it is not easy to hope, significantly when a loved one suffers or dies. Still, next to hope is the spirit of surrender to God: the abandonment of our cares and distresses to him.

Next to hope is our stronghold to the mysteries of life and God’s plan. There are things beyond our control. There are actions and movements of the hearts and minds that we do not fully comprehend. We trust that they are from God. Like the Holy Family, we journey through life with all its rough and crooked roads from the beginning and end of our earthly life.

Next to hope is our heroic love for God and one’s neighbor, brother, sister, child, parent, or friend. We’ll do everything for God who has first loved us. And we’ll sacrifice for those we love and anyone whose life is in danger.

If there is one thing we learned from this pandemic, it is the fact that we are all human beings in need of solidarity and care. We cannot be thinking merely about ourselves or just be thinking locally. We need to think globally: the common good of all people on earth.  And a big part of it is sacrificing our wants for the sake of all.

So, selfishness does not have a place in the world if we have to incarnate the Word in our family, work, government, communities, and churches.

The world in peril urges us to be kind to one another, to have mutual respect and understanding. It cries for peace, for the end of greed, violence, corruption, and hatred. It calls for truth and justice.

Let’s face this New Year with a robust hope in Jesus that he ends this pandemic and heal those who are critically ill.

Let’s celebrate the New Year with the courage to overcome any grief and heartbrokenness.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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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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