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Opinion

Padayon ang Pasko!

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

This time last year, even before 4 a.m., cheerful voices of friends and neighbors were heard out in the streets. They were all on their way to the nearby chapel for the first Misa de Gallo. Shortly after, songs, prayers and the voice of the officiating priest could be heard. With the loud sound system, one could join the Mass even from home!

This year, December 16, 2020, many joined the online Simbang Gabi Mass from home! Masses were livestreamed as early as 4 a.m., others 5, others at 6. Viewers could choose to attend Mass at later hours convenient for them.

Similar to other years, what brought tears to the eyes were the throngs of Filipinos all throughout the country who flocked to attend the first Simbang Gabi last Wednesday. Not even COVID could stop devotees from going to churches to start and complete their nine-day series of masses, from December 16-25, until Christmas Day! Despite COVID, calamities, and challenges, tuloy, padayon ang Pasko!

An early Simbang Gabi mass-goer was asked by a TV reporter if she was not afraid to be in church during this pandemic. She pointed up and answered, “God up there will protect us from COVID!” Amen to that, many would jointly chorus.

Other church-goers have posted this prayer on social media: That those down here --the church and the barangay officials-- will together do their utmost to have the health protocols followed (social distancing, wearing of face masks and shields).

The prayer is also directed to all to do their responsible share of disciplining themselves by following health protocols before, during, and after mass.

While happy to see the vendors allowed to sell their items for Simbang Gabi, let us also pray they and the public will follow protocol and be spared from the virus.

Oh, to hear and be allowed to sing together the joyous hymns of Christmas-

“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

Oh, to have the precious blessing of actually receiving the Holy Host for nine days! And to witness the stars lingering briefly in the night sky and the first rays of dawn, with friends, families, and neighbors!

And to experience some “normalcy”- to have this tradition and devotion allowed to continue within this season!

Several priests reminded us during the first three days of Misa de Gallo:

First, tuloy, padayon ang Pasko! Christmas lives on “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Second - remember God’s gifts for this season:

His PRESENCE - God’s presence through His Son.

Our RESTORATION - Jesus came so He can lead us back to the Father in our eternal home. No matter our past, present and future, we are assured that God so loves us and those who believe in Him will have eternal life.

EMMANUEL - “God is with us.” Forever.

God’s message for us, relayed to Mary and Joseph, through His angels - “Do not be afraid.”

By saying yes to God’s will, Jesus, Mama Mary, and Papa Joseph brought us all into God’s family! We are all one in God!

“For whosoever shall do the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

As Christmas is in our hearts, through all days and years, let us remember, with one big joyful voice, to always rejoice and proclaim the name of the Lord!

Soon, a brand new morn will dawn, when a Child is born.

cballescas@yahoo.com

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