3rd Day of Simbang Gabi  

            A man was desperately trying to lose weight, but like so many of us, he had the tendency to grab sweets whenever he was bored. He and his wife devised a plan. Whenever he was tempted to cheat on his diet, he would think of his wife and how proud she will be of him.

            It seemed to be working quite well. However, one night she overheard him telling his friends, “Whenever I get hungry, I think about my wife and immediately I lose my appetite.” (Reader’s Digest).

            Unfortunately, we all have an appetite, a tendency for sin. We all sin; it is part of the human condition. No matter how often we promise ourselves – “I won’t do this again,” we say – we find ourselves slipping and failing. That is why God sent us his Son. He knows how weak we are and how we need a Savior.

            Today’s gospel passage tells us of an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, telling him about Mary bearing a son, and that he is to name ‘Jesus’ “because he will save his people from their sins.” So, Jesus came, not to give us a new set of rules, but to take away our sins. One fundamental sin we need to be saved from is the violation of “the law of the gift,” which we talked about yesterday. We put it in the context of the theme of our Simbang Gabi: “Gifted to Give.”

            Someone said, “We are a society of go-getters, when we should become a society of go-givers.” Indeed, there is so much in our society that conditions us and tells us, “Get this for yourself… Get that for yourself.” Our materialistic and consumerist world tells us that we ‘get’ happiness by ‘getting’ things for ourselves. Ang malungkot, naniniwala tayo… at namumuhay sa ganitong paraan.

            Honestly, are you teaching and forming your children to be go-givers or go-getters? Hindi kaya hinahayaan ninyo sila na maimpluwensiyahan ng mundo at mapaniwala na ang kaligayahan nila sa buhay ay nakasalalay sa makukuha at maitatago nila para sa sarili nila? If you want them to be good Christians, form and help them to be go-givers. Siyempre, dapat magsilbing good example kayo sa kanila.

            Nabanggit natin kahapon: We, sinners, get caught in a bad rhythm: We try continually to fill ourselves up when, in fact, we should be emptying ourselves out in giving.Sa halip na pagbubukas-palad ang ginagawa natin, pagtitikom-kamao ang pinipili natin. Why do we have this ‘grasping’ or ‘grabbing’ mentality? Because we are greatly conditioned by the distorted values of the world – that tells us that our happiness depends on the things that we get – grasp, grab, and hoard – for ourselves: Pinaniniwala tayo na ang kaligayahan natin ay nakasalalay sa mga bagay na ‘naitatabi’ o ‘naitatago’ natin para sa sarili natin: sa laki ng perang naiimpok natin sa bangko at nailalagay sa iba’t ibang investments; sa dami ng mga bagay-bagay na nabibili natin at mga ari-ariang nakakamal natin; sa iba’t ibang kasiyahan, aliw, at sarap na naibibigay natin sa sarili natin.

            Let me state again the fundamental principle of our faith: Our being increases in the measure that we give away. Kapag ginagamit natin ang ating mga talento – galing, husay, abilidad, kakayahan at kasanayan – sa paglilingkod, nagiging mabunga ang mga ito, hindi lamang para sa sarili natin, kundi lalo na para sa kapwa at pamayanan natin. Our being increases and grows. Kapag binabahagi natin ang ating talino at karunungan, kasama ang mga natutuhan natin sa mga karanasan natin, sa pagsisikap na paginhawahin ang buhay ng kapwa natin, lumalago ang pagkatao natin at nagiging mas kapaki-pakinabang. Our being increases and grows.

            Do you want to have the divine life? Well, then, give it away. Share God’s life… Share God’s gifts. Do you want to be happy? Well, then, stop being concerned about your own happiness… Make someone happy. Happiness is found in loving acts, in selfless deeds, in giving of ourselves in love.

            Jesus comes to take away our sins. Jesus can only come to those who ask to be saved. Let us, therefore, ask the Lord to save us from grabbing and hoarding God’s gifts – to save us from selfishness in order to give more of ourselves. Nawa, ang pamamanata natin sa Simbang Gabing ito ay maghatid sa atin sa ganitong uri ng kaligtasan. May we always realize and live by this truth: We are saved to give. We are, indeed, gifted to give!           

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