3rd Day of Simbang Gabi (December 18, 2022)


The opening prologue of the Gospel according to John that we read every Christmas talks of the time when “The Word became Flesh.”  The Word who is the Son of God took on our humanity when He became one of us.

The birth of Jesus, the Son of God 2000 years ago was heralded by Archangel Gabriel to the shepherds… “I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you, you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger.” (Lk. 2: 10-12).

The Lord is with us- Emmanuel. St. Teresa of Avila liked to say, “in Jesus, God himself becomes Emmanuel, God-with-us. He who walks alongside us, who gets involve in our lives and our homes, in the midst of our miseries.”  Pope Francis during his visit to the Emmanuel Community in Lecce, Italy stressed,  “God-with-us.  Jesus is not just an idea, or ideology.”  The pope continued,  “He is God-with-us, who witnessed to the love of the Father by sharing our condition to the full.”

Some of us might even wish we could have been at Bethlehem witnessing the birth of our savior. Can we imagine being able to be in the same place with the Son of God? God is with us; present with us in the very place that we are.

The Emmanuel is a humble, down to earth “God-with-us.”  St Paul writes concerning Jesus ‘Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself.’ (Philippians 2)  He reminded the Christians in Corinth ‘you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.’ (2 Cor. 8:9)

Many of our brothers and sisters suffer oppression. God was one of the oppressed.

The oppressed should not harm their oppressors by allowing them to continue in their violence and abuses.   Let us not allow them to walk in their sins. The humble are called to walk a different path: to use their gifts and their rights not for their own loss, and not for their own benefit, but for the benefit and true blessing for others.

“God-with-us,” means we are to be a people and church who, like Jesus, use what is right, blessing, and power and what we have to bless others, and free the abused.

This divine presence of Jesus reminds us that simple and humble Christmas happens every day. 

Jesus’ presence in our daily lives calls for a change in our relationships with others. The entire purpose for Jesus being present with Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and the wise men was that – He could forever be present in humanity through all eternity.

Jesus, “God-with-us” is not limited to the Season of Christmas.

Jesus, the Christ, widens the scope of Christmas, not only being born in a manger. The manger must lead us to him on the cross on which he offered his life through crucifixion. With Christ’s death and resurrection, we can truly receive the gift of “God with us,” eternal salvation. Through His death we become not just his faithful followers, friends but also his brothers and sisters walking side by side with him. We never have to wonder how to please God or worry if our efforts aren’t enough. We can simply rest knowing that He is with us, in us, loves us, and will never leave us.

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Fray Leopoldo V. Estioko, OAR

Fray Leopoldo V. Estioko, OAR