8th Day of Simbang Gabi  

            Do you know the story behind your name? If not, try to find out.

            Natunghayan natin sa ebanghelyo ngayon ang pagbibigay ng pangalan sa sanggol nina Zechariah at Elizabeth. Zechariah names their newborn son ‘John’ – for a very good reason.The name ‘John’ comes from the Hebrew Yehohanan, which means “to grace” or “to show favor.” John therefore means “Yahweh has given grace” or “Yahweh has shown favor.” It can also mean “God is gracious.”

            John is a sign of God’s graciousness to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Thus, we have to emphasize that for Zechariah and Elizabeth ‘John’God is gracious – is not just a matter of giving that name to their son. But, rather, it is a profound expression of their deep, deep experience of God’s graciousness in their lives. It is a recognition of God’s personal love for them.

            We are all gifted, because God is gracious to us. God has shown favor to each of us. And because of this, we all have the capacity to give – to share generously what we have and what we are. We can show favors to others precisely because we have been recipients of God’s favors, we have personally experienced God’s graciousness.

            We are called to be ‘Johns’ to one another, ‘Johns’ to others. Dapat sa pamamagitan ng kabutihan at kabaitan natin nagsisilbi tayong buhay na paalala na ang Diyos ay butihing-loob. Dapat sa pamamagitan ng paggawa natin ng mabubuting bagay nagiging daan tayo ng mga pagpapala ng Diyos. We must be instruments of God’s favors for other people.

            Again, in a profound sense, we are all called to be ‘Johns’ or ‘Jehohanans’ in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our communities… In a society where many things are claimed to be ‘human achievements,’ we have to be living signs of God’s graciousness. We must proclaim that everything is God’s gift. In a society where people are taken for granted and treated as objects, we have to preach about the dignity of the human person. We must be a reminder that human beings are God’s image. In a society where people are harsh, cruel, and violent to one another, we have to be the face of God’s mercy and compassion. We must be a reflection of God’s gentleness and tenderness. In a society where many feel unloved, forgotten, and rejected, we have to be God’s compassionate love.

            Sometimes we are called to do great acts of kindness, or to show big favors for others. But more often what is asked of us is to do simple expressions of kindness, little favors, small acts of charity and service for others. Maaari tayong maging ‘John’ (God is gracious) sa pagpapakita ng kabutihan at kabaitan. Magbigay ng encouragement, inspiration at affirmation, sa halip na mang-inis at mangutya ng kapwa. Pagtuunan ang magagandang katangian ng kapatid natin sa halip na mapako sa mapapangit na bahagi nito. Recognize the uniqueness and giftedness of each other instead of comparing one another. Learn to say constantly: “Thank you… Please… Sorry… I miss you… I love you… I thank God for you.”

            One of the greatest gifts we can offer to the world and to one another is to practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. All of us are capable of it – that is, if we choose to. It is said, “Kindness is one thing you cannot give away; it always comes back.”

            We are always put in a situation where we need to make a choice: We can choose to be gracious or we can choose to be unkind. We can choose to be thoughtful, friendly, polite, kind, and generous or to be just the opposite of what it means to be gracious. Again, the choice is ours. Sana naman piliin nating magpakita ng kabutihan at magsilbing ‘John’. Piliin nating mag-smile – ‘yung totoo at di plastic na ngiti – kahit sa mga taong nakabusangot at salubong ang kilay. Piliin nating maging mapagbigay sa kalye at mag-drive nang cool, kahit na maraming harungas at barumbadong drivers. Piliin nating makipag-usap nang maayos, magalang, at mahinahon, kahit na nagtataas na ng boses ang iba at wala nang poise. Piliin nating magpakita ng kabaitan, paggalang at pagtanggap kahit sa mga taong mukhang magaspang ang asal at ugali. Piliin nating magkusang gumawa ng kabutihan sa ibang tao, kahit na hindi natin kakilala at kahit na di pa magpasalamat. Always try to be a little more gracious and kinder than necessary.

            God does not get tired in gracing us, in showing favor to us. The Lord sends constantly various ‘Johns’ to us – people who help us, guide us, protect us. Sana pahintulutan natin ang Diyos na gamitin din tayo sa pagpaparanas at pagpapadama ng kanyang kabutihang-loob. Again, we can show favors, we can do favors to others because we have been recipients of God’s favors, We are, indeed, gifted to give!

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