December 16, 2020 – Wednesday, First day of the Misa de Aguinaldo, National Youth Day
Readings (Is 56:1-3a,6-8; Psalm 67:2-3,5,7-8; John 5:33-36)
The gifts during this season excite us. Despite this pandemic, the virus cannot prevent us to show our love and affection to people who are dear to us. Gift giving plays an important role in our Christmas celebrations. To receive a gift also reminds us of the greatest gift which we have received as Christians.
When I was younger what truly excite me were the gifts that I will receive. I always long for that because of the feeling of satisfaction in receiving. Thus, during this season, I would always think of what I would like to receive. However, as I grew up and became more mature in my Christian faith, I gradually realized how childish my desire was. Though it is good, but to always think and long to receive something is indeed childish and a mere reflection of my selfish desire. I realized that Christmas is not just about mere receiving gifts but also recognizing my own gifts in order to be a gift to others.
This realization brings me now into the message of this First Day of our Misa de Aguinaldo which is also the National Youth Day. This calls us together as a Church to recognize our gifts and the gifts around us especially the gift of the young.
Allow me now to bring you all into a deeper reflection of God’s invitation for us today. Let us see the readings and discover the gift that God prepared for us.
The Book of Prophet Isaiah tells us how the foreigners came to believe in God. The Hebrew people who welcomed them, mingled with them and made friends with them, helped them to encounter the One True God. The very presence of the Hebrews became an instrument to this foreigners to recognize God’s presence. God’s people became a gift to these foreigners leading them to worship God and give thanks to God.
This tells us that such encounter was the space where those who did not believe in God came to believe. These non-believers must have seen and witnessed God’s presence through the life of those who believed in God. This reminds us now that when our presence becomes a gift to another, our presence becomes a blessing.
This is what our Psalm expressed today. God blesses everyone because God created everything. However, God’s blessing will be more manifested when such blessing is consciously shared. Moreover, as the Psalm recognizes God’s authority over all the nations, even those who do not belong to the chosen people of God, they too were blessed. This is a confidence in God who gathers everyone, without exception. Gifts and blessing from God are also given to all, without exception.
Our Gospel today tells us about this. John was a gift to his childless parents, but more than that, John was a gift also to people who went to him, to seek the light and to seek the truth. The very life of John was a gift.
This is what Jesus recognized in the Gospel. John’s life and his presence was a testimony to the truth. He was a burning and true shining lamp for people to see and recognize the true light. John led people to Jesus. Indeed, John’s life was a gift to people around him.
More than John the Baptist also, the works of Jesus, his miracles, the signs he performed, were gifts of God to the people that revealed Jesus, the greatest gift we have. Nevertheless, when we are not conscious of the gifts of God, within us and around us, then, we become like those authority figures and people who failed to recognize the Lord. They failed to recognize Jesus because of their indifference.
Thus, on this day, we are called to recognize our individual gifts and the gifts around us. For us to be able to arrive in this awareness, I have three invitations which you can bring with you today.
First. Stop comparing yourself to others. Looking at what others enjoy and desiring what they have, and pitying ourselves with what we do not have, is burying ourselves in jealousy. This brings us into bitterness and indifference to our own gifts. Begin rather, to recognize our own gifts and talents, and the many blessing that we have. With this kind of attitude, we become confident with ourselves.
Second. Be grateful of the gifts of people around you. As we recognize our gifts, we will surely become appreciative of the gift of others. Thus, express your gratitude to your friends, to your family and loved ones and even strangers who have become a gift to you. Say thank you to them even when what was done and given was small. When we become grateful of the gifts of others, this makes us happier.
Third. Be a gift. As the Hebrews led the foreigners to worship God, as John led people to the true light, and as the works of Jesus revealed who he really is, let our person and our presence be a gift to people around us. Let our words, our actions, our talents and resources, become a gift in our relationships. Having such consciousness will allow us to give what is best and what is special. To become a gift is to give from the heart. In this way, our life will become a testimony of God who has come as our greatest gift. Hinaut pa.