Day 1, Simbang Gabi
From the book of Isaiah:
Thus says the LORD,
"(A)Preserve justice and do righteousness,
For My (B)salvation is about to come
And My righteousness to be revealed.
2"How (C)blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who (D)takes hold of it;
Who (E)keeps from profaning the sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil."
3Let not the (F)foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
"The LORD will surely separate me from His people "
Nor let the (G)eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree."
6"Also the (N)foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD,
To be His servants, every one who (O)keeps from profaning the sabbath
And holds fast My covenant;
7Even (P)those I will bring to My (Q)holy mountain
And (R)make them joyful in My house of prayer
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on (S)My altar;
For (T)My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
8The Lord GOD, who (U)gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,
"Yet (V)others I will gather to them, to those already gathered."
From the book of John
"You have sent to John, and he (AM)has testified to the truth.
34"But (AN)the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
35"He was (AO)the lamp that was burning and was shining and you (AP)were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
36"But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for (AQ)the works which the Father has given Me (AR)to accomplish--the very works that I do--testify about Me, that the Father (AS)has sent Me.
Isaiah speaks of life; he speaks of a vision where the eunuch is not dry, and the stranger is welcome, and everyone is gathered to the Lord. Meanwhile, the gospel speaks about being a witness to the truth so that we might be saved.
These readings show the face of salvation and God's desire that we be witnesses of salvation. Havc we seen the face of salvation?
This year 2011 is dedicated to the Youth, "The CBCP Year of the Youth". The Church wishes that the youth at their young age be living testimonies of the Good News. How could we mold our youth and ourselves to be living witnesses of the salvation of the Lord?
We have to start from square one; reflect the beginnings of faith or the lack of it. Life is not simply being converted from sin to grace. Let us reflect on many instances the Lord entered into our lives through our parents, through the Church, through the goodness of other people.
Second, the faith we have will be subjected to tests until it is brought into perfection. For the Lord forms us and makes our love perfect in the midst of trials. Would we stay faithful to him?
Third, the faith we have will be fruitful in good works. Now it can be seen and enjoyed by many. We can say at this point that we could see the faces of salvation in the way we deal with our neighbors, how we help the poor, and how we fight to bring about justice, peace, and love. The only thing that remains is seeing Jesus face to face and smiling at us.
This is Christmas - that we become living witnesses to the presence of Jesus in the world.