Monday, December 16, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent (A) - Emmanuel

Mt. 1:18-24
December 22, 2013

GOSPEL READING: The Birth of Jesus
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.


What’s in a name?,” Shakespeare asked, “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” But names are utterly important. They convey a story, even a mission.
Some names tell a love story. Here in the Philippines, there are names that are a combination of the names of their parents, for instance, “Jezebel” is daughter of “Jess” and “Bella”. In the child, the mother and father truly become one. May mga pangalang nakakabit sa mga popular na tao. Sa talaan ng mga nag-aral sa Faculty of Theology ng UST mababasa natin ang mga pangalang: Jose Rizal, Joseph Estrada, Arturo Tolentino at Fernando Poe. Naging classmate ko pa si Joseph Estrada noong 1994. May mga family name naman na mukhang bagay sa isa’t-isa. Meron kaming Brother na ang apelyido ay “Granada”, at may isang madre naman na ang family name ay “Bala”. Minsan, tumawag si Brother Granada sa kumbento ng mga madre. Sabi ni brother, “Si Fray Granada po ito, sino po sila sister?” “Si Sr. Bala naman po ito, what can I do for you”? Wala namang pagsabog na nangyari sapagkat, taliwas sa kanilang apelyido, pareho silang huwaran ng kabaitan at kahinahunan. Meron kaming teacher sa High School, si Ms. Calajate; favorite student niya si Ms. Boo. May mga pangalang pinoy naman na nagbabago kapag nangingibang-bayan: si Rogelio Dagdag naging Roger Moore; si Topacio Mamaril naging Top Gun; si Maria Pascua naging Merry Christmas; si Ligaya Añonuevo, naging Happy New Year.
Names are important. We begin the Eucharistic and every prayer with in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. God’s name gathers us together as a community. In the Gospel, we heard from the angel the two names of the promised Messiah: JESUS and EMMANUEL. Jesus means savior. It is the name that is above all names. It is so powerful. Peter even made a lame walk just by uttering: in the name of Jesus, walk! And the lame began to walk. If the name “Jesus” signifies what Christ did and continues to do, the name Emmanuel tells us WHERE JESUS IS. Nasaan nga ba si Jesus? Jesus is the God- who-is-with-us --- Emmanuel.
The book of Genesis proclaims the truth that we are made god-like, we were created unto the image of God. St. Paul reminds us that we are “temples of the Holy Spirit”. One huge Dominican priest told us, “I am not a temple, I am a cathedral of the Spirit!” God revealed Himself as the One who dwells with us, even in us --- Emmanuel.
I grew up in Daet and were brought up receiving gifts, not on Christmas day, but on the Solemnity of the Epiphany. We grew up believing that we received gifts not from Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) but from the Magi. It was a thoughtful custom, for as we beheld the Belen and marveled at how the Magi brought their gifts before the Christ-Child, we were gradually being taught that we received gifts from the same Magi because they see Jesus in us!
Mahalaga ang pangalan. Jesus, Emmanuel. The very name Jesus should make us thankful for Christmas. Jesus came to save us. Emmanuel reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, that God dwells in us, that God is with us all the time. And because of Jesus, there is one name that we all bear --- we call ourselves Christians. Iisa ang ating pangalan, tayong lahat --- KRISTIYANO, magkakapatid kay Kristo!
Feel nyo na ba ang Pasko?! When we do not yet seem to feel Christmas, it is because we equate Christmas with abundant food, expensive gifts and extravagant parties. But Christmas is more than any of these. Christmas is not about the abundance of food but the sharing of food that nourishes our bodily hunger as well as our hunger for fellowship and friendship like our gathering together in the Eucharist, in the breaking of bread. Christmas is not about expensive gifts but the priceless gifts of quality time we share with family and friends. More than just going to stores in search of fine gifts or looking at your closet for last year’s gifts to be recycled (ingat kayo at baka umikot at bumalik sa nagbigay sa iyo ang kanyang regalo), don’t look anywhere else but look into your heart. May mga tao bang hindi ninyo iniimikan sa loob ng napakahabang panahon? May mga tao bang nagpapabigat sa iyong kalooban? One of the greatest gifts we can give is forgiveness. Remember, the root word of forgiveness is give. It is a gift. Asking for forgiveness from those we have wronged and forgiving those who have wronged us are priceless Christmas gifts. Try it and I am sure you will feel profound joy and peace and then you can truly say: Pasko na nga! Maligayang Pasko po!

Very Rev. Fr.  Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, OP is the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.


Advent, Cycle A, OP Friars, Forgiveness, Sharing, Christmas, Name, Emmanuel

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