A Christmas Message from
Rev. Celso A. Tabalanza, CICM
Missionhurst-CICM US Provincial Superior
Dear Confreres, Friends, and Benefactors of Missionhurst,
“Mary swaddled him in strips of cloth and laid him down in a manger,
since there was no place for them in the lodging.” Luke 2:7b
This biblical phrase is mentioned not only once in the Gospel of Luke but twice. The angels told the shepherds: “This will be your sign, you will find a baby swaddled in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
These biblical passages prompt us to ask ourselves if indeed Christ continues to have a place in our lives and in our hearts. According to the biblical scholar Raymond Brown, the manger is not a sign of poverty but meant to evoke God’s complaint against Israel in Isaiah 1:3 “The ox knows its owner and the donkey knows the manger of its lord; but Israel has not known me, and my people have not understood me.” Through the birth of his only begotten son, Jesus, the Isaian pronouncement has been repealed. Now, the people of Isaiah have a chance to know the Lord. Now when the good news of the birth of the Lord is proclaimed to the shepherds, they find the baby in a manger and begin to praise God. From that time on, God’s people know the manger or the place of the Lord in their hearts.
Although Christ was born 2020 years ago, He continues to ask for a manger in our hearts so that He can rule over our lives. Hence, let us allow his reign to guide us. May we surrender ourselves and our whole being to Him. For the manger of the Lord is wherever Christ seeks to be adored as Lord; to be served as poor and marginalized; to be loved as a brother and a sister; to be welcomed as an immigrant; and to be praised as our Savior.
Indeed, Christmas this year is like none other we have celebrated. The voices of Christmas carols and joyful songs are toned down these days in churches and public places due to the pandemic. Many will celebrate Christmas this year differently because family members and friends have died of the corona virus or the separation is otherwise too great. Millions are in financial crisis and living in hunger; others will be spending Christmas in the hospitals; and others are just trying to survive the heath and economic crisis.
However, may we not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joyful commemoration of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ because God has promised us that he is Emmanuel, God-with-us (Mt 1:22-23). We have to keep our faith fixed on God who brings light to people who walked in darkness and dwelt in the land of gloom (Is 9:1-2).
I thank you, on behalf of Missionhurst-CICM, for your prayers and support for our mission and our missionaries during the year 2020. I hold you all in prayer during the coming New Year.
May “we exult before the Lord for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.” (Ps.96:13)
A BLESSED AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!