By Natalie Hazel P. Quimlat, MD
In his message for this year’s Season of Advent and Christmas, Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona placed emphasis on celebrating Christmas this year in accordance with the recently concluded Synod on Synodality -one of communion, participation and mission. According to Tirona, this is what makes this year’s celebration “unique and full of meaning”.
Being with His people
“God out of His goodness willed to be in communion with us, concretely in time, in place, in history,” he said. Stories heard of God being with His people early on became a much more palpable experience when Jesus was born into this world. “The Son of God became man and became one of us in all things except sin,” the Caceres prelate added. God continued to be with His people through Jesus’ teachings, the many miracles Jesus performed and ultimately, when Jesus offered His life in love. Tirona further added, “There is no greater expression of communion than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Hence, Christmas is a time to celebrate God being in communion with His people.
Called to participate in Joy
Continuing with his message, the Caceres prelate further emphasized that a life lived with and for God is meant to be celebrated and lived in communion with others. “We are called to come together,” he said. “[We are called] to wonder at the birth of [the] Child Jesus.” The prelate then briefly recalled that the first to participate in joy at the birth of Jesus were the shepherds present at the manger. Thus, he added, “You and I: we as Church are continuously called to participate in singing [the] Gloria.”
A Community filled with Love
Shedding light on a crucial aspect of the recently concluded Synod on Synodality, Tirona further exhorted, “Jesus was sent for a mission, to bring the Good News of salvation. And, we participate in that mission: absorbing, proclaiming and embracing the mystery of this Child, born in Bethlehem, to express God’s love.” According to Tirona, ultimately, one is called to spread love through good deeds, charitable actions and through [expressions] of one’s selfless love for another. Tirona continued to exhort, “This is what Christmas is all about. It is a community event, a community experience, a community filled with love.”
The Caceres prelate ended his message with these words, “May this season of Christmas inspire us once again -to love the Church, to serve the Church, and above all, [to be] a Church [that] proclaims the glory of God.”