Celebrating Simbang gabi from another part of the world aside from the Philippines can be very interesting as well as inspiring. Imagine in the U.S., even though it's freezing cold, Filipinos would still flock to their churches wearing barong while the women would put on their elegant ternos. One could feel nostalgic while choir sings "Pasko na Naman" and "Himig Pasko." After the mass, the parishioners are treated to a Filipino breakfast with the traditional puto, kutsinta, and bibingka to remind them of how wonderful it is to experience Christmas, the Filipino way. The values of the Simbang Gabi continue to live in us wherever we are.
First of all, Simbang gabi underscores the value of sacrifice instead of wallowing in comfort. To wake up every 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. is no joke. But it can be a powerful opportunity to purify our senses, to embrace hard work, sacrifice, and trials with joy. And if we celebrate it with our loved ones and with other Filipinos, it is easier to carry each other's loads.
Secondly, it invites us to a life of perseverance and patience which we Filipinos are accustomed to practicing. This is in contrast with the impatience and escapist attitudes of some of our fellow Filipinos who are getting the taste of the "good life."
And the third value is really important, for it puts our sense of sacrifice and patience in its proper context: the value of our love for God, which is really the culmination of every Christmas preparation. If it is our lasting convesion in Christ that we have prepared for this Christmas, then every sacrifice is worth it.
We have encountered a lot of sad moments in our country's history, colonialism, power and greed. And though it seems that we haven't learn our lesson, every year we are invited to renew our commitment that one day, the dawn of real freedom will come to us, because we have lived a life of renewal, sacrifice and patience to bring our country to freedom. This is Christmas, made possible becuase of 1 simple practice - the Simbang Gabi.
As every Simbang gabi that is well celebrated always culminates with a joyful celebration of Christ's birth, so too our sacrifice, our unity and our perserserance as Filipinos will amount for something good - the true freedom of our country and a brighter future for our children. If we opt to struggle together, be united, work towards a common goal, never compromise our values and allow corruption to enslave us because of our passivity, then we can attain the real bounty our people deserve - true and lasting freedom and an end to corruption.This is what simbang gabi does to us.
Merry Christmas to all!