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Going out of our way

The story is told about three drunk men who were running to catch the last train that was already leaving the station. The train conductor was able to pull the first and second guys into the rear coach. But the third guy failed to get a foothold, and was left behind. The station master approached him and commiserated with him, whereupon the man said: “Well, I’m sorry for those two friends of mine. You see, they were here just to see me off!”

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 1, 39-45), Mary sets out to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the town of Judah. It is a long trip to take, especially by someone who is pregnant. Mary is going out of her way to be present, and to be of help to her cousin who is also heavy with child. Please remember that Advent and Christmas are all about a God who went out of His way for us, and sent us His only Son to give us hope, meaning and purpose in life.

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There are people who say that life is hard and they cannot afford to go out of their way to make others happy this Christmas. Our own poverty should not be an excuse for not giving Christmas cheer to the less fortunate. The truth is that there are people who face more difficulties and more challenges than us. As the Lord told us, the poor we will always have with us. Like Mary, may we look beyond our needs and go out of our way for those who have greater needs.

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Typhoon “Nona” has done a lot of damage and inflicted so much suffering on our people. What would Christmas be like for those who have been affected by this calamity? Let us go out of our way for them. Their suffering is real. Their needs are real and urgent.

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“The same boiling water that softens the potato also hardens the egg.” The situation around us can soften or harden us. Our suffering can make us bitter or better. What will it be? It is our attitude and how we react to a situation that can make or unmake us. It is faith that gives us a wider vision, a deeper perception, and a clearer mission as we go on.

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Without the eyes of faith, Christmas is just one noisy, stressful, messy, and long-drawn-out celebration that will leave us exhausted and empty when it is finally over. With the eyes of faith, everything will fall into place, and Christmas won’t just be a celebration that lasts a few days, but a spirit we will always carry within.

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Let us learn from Mary. Find time to “visit” people during these days of Christmas. A personal visit is best but, thanks to modern means of communication, there are now other ways and means of visiting people and making them know that we care and remember. Whatever, however, whenever, the point is that we go out of our way and reach out. Let us go beyond our comfort zone and personal agenda, and make that outward journey to people around us.

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I thank God whenever I am given the opportunity to be generous and kind. On a personal note, such moments make me remember Mama, who was a generous and kind woman, and make her present. Yes, we honor our loved ones whenever we make them present or make them live on in us by continuing what they have started, and carrying on the values they have instilled in us.

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A Christmas moment happened to me last Dec. 7. There I was, feeling exhausted while giving Holy Communion, when an elderly woman stepped into the line. Down to the smile, she looked so much like Mama, whom I miss so much, especially at Christmas. Perhaps it was Mama’s way of assuring me of her love, and telling me that she is always with me.

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Today, go out of your way and listen, reflect and pray over this Christmas message of God to you: “My precious child, why are you so afraid? Have you forgotten I am your strength regardless of how you think you are? I am your refuge when other people fail you. My child, I will never leave you alone. I will always be enough for you. I am your Provider. Don’t be afraid and never be worried. Face everything because I will fight all your battles. Always be with me and you will be more than a conqueror. I always love you.”

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And think about this: “A man said he has gone to church for 30 years now and heard something like 30,000 sermons, but he can’t remember a single one of them, so he thinks it’s just a waste of time listening to them and to the ministers delivering them. His friend said to him that he has been married for 30 years now and his wife has cooked some 32,000 meals for him but he cannot recall the menu for a single one of those meals, but all those meals nourished him and gave him strength, and if not for those meals he would be physically dead by now. He ended by saying to his friend that he would be spiritually dead today if he had not gone to church for nourishment.”

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Wishing you all a meaningful and a happy Christmas. And wishing that you all will make Christmas meaningful and happy for others, too.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, as You went out of Your way for us, in the Incarnation, help us to go out of our way for You and for others, too, especially at Christmas. Amen!

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TAGS: Christmas, Elizabeth, Mary, Typhoon Nona
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