January 1, 2015

The Gospel Today

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

Reflection (Sem. Jasper S. Bautista):

I have always loved our family Christmas tree and the other Christmas features that surrounded it. For a time it has always been with us until most of the members of my family migrated. There is one feature in our Christmas tree that has always inspired me. It is not the colorful twinkling lights or the various shiny balls that hang with it. It is also not the gifts around the tree that I stare at. It is always the simple diorama of the nativity located at the bottom of the tree that has always struck my heart. If there is a Christmas tree, there should always be a Belen. The Christmas tree is just the symbol of the shape of the star that shed light on the manger in Nazareth.

           From the time the tree is set up, I loved switching on the light that would illuminate our humble Belen. There I could see baby Jesus staring at His parents: Mary and Joseph were joyous! The shepherds with their lamb offerings were all filled with awe – I presumed they might have queries on why an angel led them to the humble manger and what fate the kingly child might have. There were also the three wise men that came and paid homage to the Messiah.

I am more inspired by the Nativity story not only during Christmas but also at times when I reflect on the joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary.  I always meditate and envision that I am present in each mystery. I visualize myself as a child witnessing from afar the angel Gabriel conversing with a fine, young, and devout woman. I am a youngster carrying some of the Virgin Mary’s things when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. I am always there doing some chores during her stay. I imagine the blissful part of being present during the birth of our Lord Jesus where I am a simple child shepherd. I always think of the coldness, the silence and then the singing and praising of the angels! I visualize myself carrying the turtle doves to be offered for the Child’s presentation and witness prophets praising Him at the temple.  Lastly, I also imagine that I helped Mother Mary and St. Joseph search for Jesus and find Him at the temple stirring people with His wisdom.

As I reflected on today’s Gospel, it led me to expound on the Nativity story. It brought me back to Mary’s “Yes” that made the incarnation of the Messiah possible and the joy, hope, forgiveness and love of her son Jesus Christ that led to the cross and brought us salvation.

The Nativity tells us that there are more stories and experiences in these events that would reconcile us to God and give us graces and Mama Mary is an instrument to this. “To become the Mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.” (CCC 490)

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