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God comes any where, any time

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Misa De Gallo V, Wednesday, 20 December 2023
Isaiah 7:10-14 <*((((>< + ><))))*> Luke 1:26-38
Photo by author, flower garden outside the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel, May 2019.

Experts tell us that much of human communications are non-verbal in nature. And most often, people rely more to our non-verbal than verbal communication because it is more truthful by nature as actions speak louder than words.

For our reflection this fifth day of our Christmas novena, let us examine the two kinds of non-verbal communications employed by St. Luke to portray God’s immense love for us as well as his sublime uniqueness as perfect communicator. These are proxemics or the communication of spaces, of how places are designed or designated to convey something special and profound. The second i which is the use of time in non-verbal communication like time perceptions of punctuality, willingness to wait, and, “timing”.

Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel, May 2019.

See how St. Luke extensively employed these modes of non-verbal communications in his infancy narrative to show us that God is everywhere, any time.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Luke 1:26-27

Right away St. Luke established here the direct correlation between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, of how their respective mission are directly linked with each other that our Lord was conceived six months after his Precursor’s conception.

More than the time frame conveyed by the six month difference in their births, we find behind it a deeper meaning about their differences as well in stature and nature wherein John was completely human flowing with time while Jesus is both human and divine with God directly intervening in our time. John was born June 24, the summer solstice when days are longer and brightest while Jesus was born December 25 when nights are longest and darkest!

The chronemics and proxemics are undeniably hinting on something deep, of how our eternal God entered through our temporal time so that within we can have that cosmic experience of “the here and not yet” when time seems to stand still because we are being wrapped in God’s eternal embrace of love made possible by Christ’s birth, passion, death and resurrection. This we can see at the contrasting circumstances between the advent of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ where we find God most unique, immensely loving us.

Photo by author of the site of the Annunciation at the basement of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, May 2019.

First, Zechariah was a priest while Mary was a commoner. It was natural for God to work through his ministers but in choosing Mary an ordinary woman was something else not because of any special quality she had but simply because God is good. The angel clearly told this to Mary, “you have found favor with God”.  God does not call the qualified but he qualifies the call! Today, God is telling us Jesus is coming through us, no matter who we are or what we have gone through and did in life.

Second, God used the setting of the Temple of Jerusalem in yesterday’s account because that is where he is supposed to dwell but today, everything happened in a very simple house in Nazareth, the only place of significance and importance in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament. It was a place looked down upon by many like St. Bartholomew asking Philip, “can anyone good come from Nazareth?”

The word “Nazoraios” or Nazarene mentioned by Matthew refers to the overall designation of Jesus by the prophets as the hope and fulfillment of God’s promise that there shall come forth a “shoot from the stump of Jesse” (Is. 11:1)Shoot in Hebrew is from the word nezer which is also the context used by Isaiah in chapters 7 and 9 found in Isaiah 11:1 cited by Matthew. Therefore, Jesus being called a Nazarene or Nazorean is more than a reference to his place of origin but most of all his very essence – a shoot from God, someone totally consecrated to God.

And that is also who we are! St. Paul’s letters teem with this beautiful theme of us being called and justified in Christ by God.

Today, God is telling us to never lose hope in life, to never give up because he will never give up on us because we are from him, we are his. For as long as we are alive, God will make a way to make a shoot or nezer bud forth from a stump to bring us back to life.

Yesterday, it was the imagery of barrenness of Elizabeth, of her being fruitless and therefore empty. Many times, that is just what God needs from us, an entry point, an opportunity when we are so weak so he can mightily work with his powers.

One of my hopes after Christmas is to celebrate Mass at the Quiapo Church, to cultivate a devotion to Jesus Nuestro Padre Nazareno. I just feel drawn to him as I have personally met so many people including non-Catholics with devotion to the Nazareno of Quiapo after granting them their almost impossible petitions and prayers.

Photo by Mr. Boy Cabrido, Quiapo Church, Misa de Gallo, 17 December 2023.

Third, there was a major feast going on, the Yom Kippur, with a lot of people present when Zechariah was informed of the birth of John; Mary was alone in her house when the angel came to announce to her the birth of Jesus on the sixth month after going to Zechariah. Again, here we find both the place and time conveying something deeper than mere locations and settings. This is what the Church has always been insisting, most especially lately after the lockdown during pandemic when people got the wrong impression that online Masses are enough or can replace actual participation in our Eucharistic celebrations especially on Sundays.

Yes, God comes to us personally as individuals but with Jesus Christ, we have been more interconnected than ever as we have seen how his birth was linked with John’s birth too. Faith and worship, life itself can never be relegated to just a personal matter. There is always the communal aspect of our faith and of life itself because man is a social being, created by God to relate which is what communication is all about.

Photo by author of a Filipino painting of the Annunciation scene on the facade of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, May 2017.

In the first reading we found Ahaz refusing to ask for a sign on the pretext he did not want to offend God but actually because he did not want to show his faith like some people these days who try to see everything on the practical side, on the material side and most of all, the personal side.  This is the tragedy of our time even in our Church that has become secularized in certain aspects.  See those different guidelines of every diocese and archdiocese about the Simbang Gabi, with others allowing anticipated Masses we have long tried educating people that it is an oxymoron. Many times, we in the Church have overextended or over-interpreted many of our rubrics and traditions just to accommodate others in the name of inclusiveness and other woke ideas.

On this fifth day of our Simbang Gabi, the Annunciation of the birth of Christ invites us to ask ourselves how do we show others that the Lord is with us like Mary? If God is every where, all the time, how come so many have lost him or could not find him? Maybe we no longer have him. Let’s ger him back again today! Amen. Have a blessed Wednesday!

Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel, May 2019.
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