At the beginning of 2003, we are being invited once again by the Gospel to enter the crib, to enter the manger and enter the presence of God. For us who live in the presence of God, nothing should worry us. Nothing should make us afraid. Nothing should cause us any anxiety because if God is with us, who can be against us.
Mary entered the presence of God. The shepherds entered the presence of God. The wise men entered the presence of God. Joseph entered the presence of God. And they never left that presence. They might have left the crib. They might have left Bethlehem but they never left God because God was in their hearts wherever they went.
Our New Year would be a lot different from the previous years if everyday, every moment of this year will be lived in that divine presence. Having entered the presence of God, what was the response of Mary? What was the response of the shepherds? What was the response of the wise men? What was the response of Joseph?
Joseph remained quiet, contemplating on the mystery that was before him. Mary remained praying and, as the Gospel said, “reflected all these things in her heart.” The shepherds went into the manger and prayed and stood in awe and wonder at the great mystery that was right before them. The wise men knelt down in homage and prayed as well. Therefore, if our New Year is to be a year of grace and blessings it is not enough that we enter into the presence of God. It is not enough that we bask in the light, in the radiance of that presence. We must also be a praying nation.
Prayer does not only imply saying prayers. Prayer really means contemplating in silence the mystery of God’s love for us. You have heard me say this time and time again, a family that prays together stays together. And a world at prayer is a world at peace. If our whole nation will discover once again the power of praying together, that presence of God will always be sustained.
It is not enough that we pray in the presence of God. The third component of today’s celebration is proclamation. Having seen the wonder of God, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they have heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. Mary joined the apostles later on in asking the Holy Spirit to come down during the first Pentecost. Even the Magi went home through another route, glorifying and praising God also.
The proclamation of the presence of God is not only to be done from the lectern. The proclamation of the presence of God is not to be done through the microphone or through the priests and the bishops. The proclamation of the presence of God is to be done by our service, formed by our lives, formed by our witnessing.
Year 2003 offers you three P’s—presence, prayer and proclamation. Make 2003 a year of grace, a year of the Lord. Let us keep the Lord always present daily, throughout this year. Let us make this year a year of prayer and generosity. Let us make this year a year of zealous proclamation that God is with us. Let us proclaim not only with our lips but even more with our hands, with our lives, with every fiber, with every tissue, blood and bone of our bodies.
PRESENCE, PRAYER, PROCLAIM
Love Like Jesus