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The Word, The Truth

The songs we sing, the music we dance

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Misa De Gallo VII, 22 December 2023
1 Samuel 1:24-28 <*[[[[>< + ><]]]]*> Luke 1:46-56
Photo by author, RISE Tower, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 13 December 2023.

As a chaplain of our university with six campuses and two medical centers, I have always emphasized to our deans and program coordinators that I strongly advocate a “one-party system” every December – just one Christmas party each day for me!

You know very well that we are really back to normal with the many parties going on since the start of December though, we are still strongly urged to take all necessary precautions for COVID is still with us.

Next to all the food and raffles in every party, there are always the singing and dancing that make these occasions so wonderful.

But I hope that amid all these fun and celebrations, we do not forget the other side of Christmas, of those in pain and suffering this season: those who are sick or taking care of a sick loved one, those grieving at the loss of a beloved, the poor and marginalized.

Photo by author, Fatima Avenue, Valenzuela City, 13 December 2023.

That is why I cannot stop sharing with you too the beautiful gesture of our Administrators last Monday in hosting an Appreciation Dinner last Monday for our employees in their senior years, those 60 and above still working, still teaching. I was not able to join them but have heard feelings of fulfillment, deep joy, and gratitude with a lot tears rolling in the eyes of those honored for their service, dedication and passion all these years. They all felt so special that aside from our Christmas party last December 8, there was another party hosted in their honor.

I remembered how when I was still assigned in our diocesan school in Malolos 25 years ago how we taught our students to set aside a certain amount of their budget for their Christmas party so they can host a party too for students in some selected public schools, complete with gift-giving. We wanted to instill in them the spirit of love and charity by thinking always of others during this season.

While we are singing and dancing in our Christmas party, let us not forget those who could not even go to parties because of their poverty, sickness and other limitations. See how the Blessed Virgin Mary taught us this important aspect of sharing Jesus Christ concretely during this Christmas when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his lowly servant.  From this day, all generations will call me blessed:  the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.  He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.  He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.  He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.  He has come to the help of servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and to his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

Photo by author, Fatima Avenue, Valenzuela City, 13 December 2023.

In a certain sense, the Visitation was like a Christmas party of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. There was great rejoicing in their getting together as we have reflected yesterday.

Today we heard Mary singing her praises to God in Magnificat as a response to the praises she received from Elizabeth on her Visitation.  Notice that instead of returning Elizabeth’s gesture like most of us would do in our “mutual praise club” especially during parties, Mary praised God through her Magnificat his outpouring of love not only to her and Elizabeth but to the whole nation of Israel.

Actually, the Magnificat was composed by St. Luke he placed on the lips of the Virgin Mary. It is a part of his artistry, of putting songs on the lips of some of his Christmas characters like Zechariah after John’s circumcision and later on Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.

Why? Because singing, like dancing, is the highest expression of our feelings to the one we love. Mothers sing lullabies to their infants, suitors compose and sing songs to their beloved, and we Filipinos sing and dance in whatever mood we are wherever we may be! There is always music in us from the simple gesture of washing the dishes, ironing of clothes to driving and taking a shower. When we sing and dance, we show what’s inside us as well as who we are.

Photo by author, 2019.

In singing the Magnificat which St. Luke patterned after a similar song by Hannah at the birth of her son the Prophet Samuel who’s story we heard in the first reading, the Blessed Virgin Mary expressed her joy and gratitude in the nearness of God among us not only with the coming birth of her Son Jesus Christ but also through her!

All those great things done by God to Israel as per the Magnificat – “mercy on those who fear him, showing the strength of his arm, scattering the proud in their conceit, casting down the mighty from their thrones, lifting up the lowly, filling the hungry with good things, sending the rich away empty, coming to the help of Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy” – happened not only in the coming of Jesus Christ but every time we share and proclaim him in words and in deeds like Mary.

The late Fr. Raymond Brown, one of the great biblical scholars of our time noted in his classic “Birth of the Messiah” that Mary as the first Christian is teaching us the essential task of every disciple of the Lord, that is, after hearing the word of God and accepting it, we must share it with others, not by simply repeating it but by interpreting it so that people can see it truly as the good news.

How are we interpreting the message of Christmas this Advent so that people would realize Jesus has come?

I hope this beautiful poem from another blog I have found a long time ago could help you sing and dance like Mary the Magnificat this Christmas.

Photo by author, Fatima Avenue, Valenzuela City, 08 December 2023.
1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style
by Sharon Jaynes 
(https://sharonjaynes.com/1-corinthians-13-christmas-style/
If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, 
strands of twinkling lights, 
and shiny glass balls, 
but do not show love to my family – I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, 
baking dozens of Christmas cookies, 
preparing gourmet meals, and arranging 
a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, 
but do not show love to my family – I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, 
carol in the nursing home, 
and give all that I have to charity, 
but do not show love to my family – it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce 
with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, 
attend a myriad of holiday parties, 
and sing in the choir’s cantata 
but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, 
but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails.  Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust.  
But giving the gift of love will endure.

Amen. May you have and share Jesus Christ always.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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