An encounter with mercy
The third Sunday of Advent is an awkward time. It sort of creeps us on us, pokes inappropriately and asks: “Are you ready for Christmas?” You are reminded of the things you still need to buy, wrap and do. How ironic. We measure Christmas by the things we need to buy, yet the essence of Christmas are things that are absolutely free.
Think about it. The airline ticket that you bought to get to your city, did indeed cost you a bomb, but it served to get you to your destination. When you’ve gathered around your family table, you still need an open heart, infused with forgiveness, to truly relish the time spent with your family. Now, this essential glue to family ties, this thing called ‘forgiveness’, that doesn’t cost a thing. It is, however, a grace, asked for in humility and in prayer. The grace of forgiveness lets us see that the sum of our blessings today, are much much greater than the hurt of the past. With the grace of forgiveness, we can look at each member of our family and with all appreciation, say: “Are you ready for the lechon?”
The average Filipino usually attends a minimum of three Christmas parties: the office, the school (the kids or yours), relatives and neighbors. Yes, it did cost money to give your “amot” (contribution) or buy the potluck dish. However, when you have gathered around the assigned table, you still need a spirit of humility and a willingness to listen, to truly enjoy the time spent with your friends. Now, this essential glue to friendship, this thing called ‘listening’, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cost a thing. It is, however, an active decision that we make, stemming from a willingness to meet a person where they are, regardless of how different or intimidating their circumstances are. With the spirit of acceptance, we can look at each friend and with all humility, ask: “Are you ready for the cake?”
Yes, there are just five more days until Christmas. It is more than the cessation of gift-giving and parties. Christmas is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world, and if we allow it, into our hearts. This gift never costs us anything, not a peso, a kilo or a second. However, when you find yourself in front of the belen, gazing upon the Holy Infant in the manger, you will need a spirit of surrender to yield, submit and concede to this kind of love. Scary? No, it isn’t, not really – because this year is a year unlike any other.
We are in the Jubilee of Mercy, which began on Dec. 8, 2015 and concludes on Nov. 20, 2016. Pope Francis, in his Misericordiae Vultus (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy), tells us that:
“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
Dear reader, you have five days before Christmas, an entire year of mercy, a lifetime of love and an eternity of salvation. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
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