“The Advent and Christmas season, let us not allow the flurry of events around us to disturb our inner peace and joy. Let us keep our hearts and mind focused on the scene of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.”
This season of Advent, I let myself be carried away by the mystery of faith. (The Holy See granted special permission to the Church in the Philippines to celebrate the Simbang Gabi for nine consecutive days before Christmas.) Like many Filipinos, I woke up early as 4 a.m. to attend the Misa de Gallo, and each morning lead me to a journey to the manger where the Baby Jesus lay. Each dawn Mass became the greatest gift of that day, a journey to remember… God surprised me in each church I visited. The characters in the Gospel readings inspired me no end: the Blessed Virgin, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist.
One treasure I realized during my 9-day journey to the Manger is that prayer is union with God.
As Mary accepted the mission to be Mother of the Son God, she kept all the events that transpired in her heart, reflecting on them. Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Joseph and Zechariah protested but eventually surrendered and obeyed God. Because of Mary’s mysterious pregnancy, Joseph wanted to quietly divorce her. But surrendering to the message of God to be foster father of Jesus, he let God be captain of his life. Zechariah with his wife Elizabeth, who was barren, was able to have a son even in their old age “for nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist surrendered to God’s will in the greater plan of salvation: Mary and Joseph became the parents of the Son of God; John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way for Jesus, was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah.
Shirley Paynor is an accountant by profession and a missionary by heart. She loves traveling, meeting new people, and food!