Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Unto us is born a child, a savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord! As we contemplate the mystery of Our Lord’s Nativity, let us try to learn from the experience of the shepherds who heard the angel’s announcement of the Lord’s birth, and went to Bethlehem to see the Christ-child. We can learn three spiritual virtues from those shepherds: keeping watch, crossing over, and going in haste.

Let us keep watch. That night the shepherds were out in the field, keeping watch by night. Sa kanilang pagbabantay sa tupa, nagmamasíd sila, nanonood, at nagmamatyag. Kahit inaantok o nababagot, matiyaga silang nagmamasíd upang mapansin nila agad ang anumang pagkilos o pangyayari na kailangan nilang tugunan. In order to genuinely celebrate Christmas, we too need to keep watch. In the face of mystery, our stance must always be contemplative. Let us take a long loving look at the real. Let us intently and honestly listen to the truth. Let us be sensitive to the signs of the times. Let us have hearts that are attentive and receptive to God’s revelation and intervention in our lives.

Sa Paskong ito, magmasid tayo. Let us contemplate the presence of Jesus in our brothers and sisters, especially the needy and the suffering. Like the shepherds, let us recover the art of keeping watch.

Let us cross over. After the shepherd heard the news and song of the angels, the shepherds told each other, “Let us go to Bethlehem”. In the original Greek, the verb used was diélthomén, which can be translated as “let us cross over.” “Tumawid tayo. Magtungo tayo sa ibayo. Let us go beyond. Let us transcend.” This implies going beyond borders, transcending our comforts, being open to personal conversion, transforming our society, penetrating through walls of division, and building bridges of solidarity. Ibigay natin ang sarili natin sa paghayo mula sa ating mga sarili, patungo kay Hesus, patungo sa kapwa. Like the shepherds, let us embrace the spirit of “crossing over” to encounter the Christ-child in the other.

Let us go in haste. The shepherds “went in haste” towards Bethlehem, and there they found Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, just as the angels told them. Hindi na sila nagpatumpik-tumpik pa, o nag-alangan sa mensahe ng anghel, o nagdalawang-isip, o nagdiskusyon pa ng mahabang mahaba. Siguro hindi na rin sila nakapag-ayos ng damit, hitsura, o amoy nila, o nakapag-practice ng script na sasabihin nila. Nagmamadali silang pumunta sa Bethlehem upang matunghayan ang Mesiyas. They eagerly went forth in order to see the Christ-child. Indeed, those who watchfully attend to God’s revelation, would feel the urgency to respond to His invitation.

Christmas nowadays comes with so much rushing. Let us rush, not for the consumption and entertainment that the world allures us to, but for mission and encounter with the Lord. Like the shepherds, let us go in haste to meet and see Jesus, our Savior.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Eternal Son of God is Immanuel, God-with-us; this indeed is the very essence of Christmas. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is with us and within us, here and now, even as many of us go through tough times. Like the shepherds, let us keep watch of his revelation, let us cross over beyond our petty selves towards His greater glory, and let us go in haste for mission. Hopefully, we too may share in their joy as they “returned from Bethlehem, glorifying and praising God, for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them” (v. 20): the glory and mercy of the Lord, in the frail frame of a Child in a manger. Amen.

Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!

Jose F. Cardinal Advincula
Archbishop of Manila


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