6th Day of Simbang Gabi  

            Mother Teresa once said, “Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.” On another occasion she said, “The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.” Alam naman natin na ang mga katagang ito ay hindi lamang binigkas ni Mother Teresa, kundi sinabuhay niya. Ito ang naging panuntunan at prinsipyo ng buhay niya.

            Sa ebanghelyo ngayon, sinasalarawan ang isa pang babae na naunang namuhay sa ganitong panuntunan at prinsipyo. The gospel tells us, “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste…” Mary went to Elizabeth, not to have a great time out, but to help her elderly cousin during a difficult period. She went there not only to listen to her and to comfort her, but also to help her in her daily chores, lowly jobs. She went there not to be served, but to serve. Kinalimutan niya ang sarili; hindi niya inalintana ang sariling kalagayan; sinantabi niya ang sariling pangangailangan upang damayan, tulungan, at paglingkuran ang pinsan niyang si Elizabeth.

            Here we find Mary engaged in a service of love. This is Mary… always in action… for others! This is Mary’s love in action – love shown in service.

            The topic of the sixth day of our Simbang Gabi is: “Love and Service.” The LOVE that came down at Christmas is also the LOVE that knelt down to wash the feet of the Apostles. At the Last Supper, Jesus left us a legacy of love and service. Perfect love and humble service.

            This is how Jesus presents to us the complex reality of perfect love: He, who is Lord and Master, takes on the role of a slave or servant. Noong panahon ni Hesus, ang isang alipin o slave ay inaasahang ilalaan niya ang buong buhay sa pagsisilbi sa kanyang amo hanggang kamatayan. Sa pag-ako at pagganap sa tungkulin ng isang alipin na paghuhugas ng paa, pinahahayag ni Hesus, sa praktikal na paraan, ang pag-ibig niya sa atin. The whole life of Jesus is love in action. It is love made manifest in service.

            PAG-IBIG at PAGLILINGKOD – perfect love and humble service – ito ang pamana sa atin ni Hesus… ito rin ang dapat na maging legacy natin. Ito dapat ang maging bunga ng paghahanda natin ngayong Adbiyento, dahil ito ang magbibigay ng kahulugan at kabuluhan sa pagdiriwang natin ng Pasko ng Pagsilang ni Hesus. Ang pagpaparangal natin sa Sanggol na si Hesus ay dapat maisalin natin sa pagtulad natin kay Kristong nakaluhod habang hinuhugasan ang paa ng kanyang mga alagad – tanda ng kanyang abang paglilingkod.

            The LOVE that came down at Christmas is also the LOVE that we must carry and bring wherever we go: JESUS. It is the LOVE that we must manifest in humble service. It is the LOVE that we must realize and concretize by feeding the hungry, not only for material food, but for attention and consideration, care and concern; by quenching the thirsty, not only for water or drink, but for understanding and acceptance for who they are – with warts and all; by clothing the naked – stripped of decency and respect, stripped of their dignity and rights; by caring for the ill – including those who are sick because of depression, abuse and addiction; by forgiving the guilty – seventy times seven times; by willing the good of our enemies, doing good to those who hate us; by reaching out to the marginalized and neglected. This is how we keep Christ in Christmas.

            We draw closer to Christ as we, out of pure love, serve others for him. Christ is born every time we serve with love and in love. Love comes into being through humble service to others. It is said that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our lives. (Thomas Monson) St. Francis of Assisi reminds us – paraphrasing his words: “Remember, when you leave this earth you can take nothing that you have received, only what you have given: humble service and selfless love.”

            Like Mary, we must go out “in haste” to put our love for God in action. Love in action is service. If you want to make this Simbang Gabi meaningful for you, well, you know what to do: Imitate Mary… follow her way. We must always be ready to bring Jesus through our service of love. We must have a readiness to serve like Mary.

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, You give us the great example of selfless love and humble service, and You call us to love and serve also. Empower us, then, to respond with commitment and enthusiasm. May we extend our hearts with love and our hands and feet to serve. Lord, may Your life of LOVE and SERVICE enable us to care and minister to the needy. Help us to love beyond measure, without expectations and limitations, those who need our love. Amen.

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