December 24, 2021


Reflection for the Midnight Eucharist, December 24, 2021
Luke 2: 1-14 – (15-20)

(Reprinted, with permission, from “O, Come Emmanuel: Advent and Christmas Prayers and Reflections,” booklet published by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and issued at the National Clergy Convocation in Davao City, November 19, 2018.)

By: The Rev. Victoria S. Esguerra
Retired Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area


In Hebrew, Isaiah’s name means “God is salvation.”  His is the longest prophetic book in the Bible (66 chapters).  He was from Jerusalem; married to a prophetess with whom he had at least two sons.  He lived during the time of Israel’s destruction by Assyria.  His voice saved the kingdom of Judah at these trying times.  The lands of Zebulum and Naphtali in Galilee, the first tribes crushed by the Assyrian Empire, were the first to see the light from the prophesy of Isaiah.  He told King Ahaz, who defied God, that his kingdom would be under attack if he did not help Israel in its defense against Assyria.  Isaiah offered a sign that God would keep His promise to save Judah, but King Ahaz did not believe.  Then Isaiah boldly foretold a second sign, i.e., that they would be set free by the coming of the Messiah on earth: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Coming from the throne of David, the new King’s reign would be marked by endless peace, justice, and righteousness.  Isaiah told Israel not to be afraid as God would punish the arrogant Assyria and the repentant remnant of Israel would return to their homeland.  His prophecy and prayer of proclamation saw the real coming of the Messiah; but up to now the chosen people still do not believe that Jesus is the Anointed One.


This is the psalmist’s song/prayer of praise to the Great Almighty, exhorting all creation – nations/peoples/tribes/families, earth and natural creation – to collectively join voices to ascribe glory, honor, majesty to the Lord; to bring offerings; and to come worship in His court or sanctuary.  The chosen people of God were told to fear Him (be repentant of sins), to be in awe and humility for His greatness and marvelous works, and to await His coming in glory when He would judge the world with righteousness and truth.


Paul sent a letter of advice to Titus, his companion and fellow missionary, to put in order and to appoint religious elders (bishops) as God’s stewards with good Christian qualities – blameless, self-controlled, devout, prudent, upright, etc.  He also instructed Titus to teach the Church in Crete sound doctrine, and to advise older men, older women, younger men, and slaves the proper Christian behavior, serving himself (Titus) as the exemplary model.  Furthermore, the people must be warned to renounce worldly passions and to live upright, godly lives as they blessedly waited for the coming of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 


It was prophesied that Jesus would come from the roots (family) of King David and would be born in Bethlehem, city of David.  About the time of His birth, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all peoples must go to their city of origin to be counted.  From Nazareth in Galilee, Joseph and Mary (pregnant with Jesus) travelled to Bethlehem (some 110 kilometers/70 miles south of Nazareth and 9 kilometers/6 miles south of Jerusalem).  It was winter time and they were weary of the long journey, especially Mary who rode on a lowly donkey.  Arriving in Bethlehem, they were turned away as no room was available for the City was swamped with people from all over who were there to comply with the order, i.e., to pay their taxes and to be enrolled in the census.  In the outskirts of town, there was an inn with a cave below as a stable for the animals.  The householder took pity on Mary’s condition and she accommodated them.  There Jesus, the Incarnate God and Second Person of the Trinity, was born and laid with swaddling cloth in the bare, cold manger (cradle – an actual feeding trough of the animals).

Not too far away in the fields were the shepherds watching their flock at night.  Then they beheld a choir of angels and they were terrified.  An Angel of the Lord gave them the message: “Do not be afraid; for I bring you good news of great joy for all people.  On this day is born in the city of David a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord.  The sign is that you will find Him in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger.”  Then the multitude of angels praised God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors.”  When the angels left them, the shepherds sought the manger and found Mary, Joseph, and the Child lying in a humble cradle.  After their visit, the shepherds joyfully left to spread the Good News of the birth of the Messiah.  Being the first to hear the wonderful news, they were also the first evangelists for the Lord.

GIFT TO THE POVERTY-STRICKEN WORLD: Why was Jesus the Savior born under such poor and miserable conditions?  His earthly parents were poor; His birthplace was poor; His cradle was poor; His birth clothing was poor; His first visitors (shepherds) who “welcomed” Him in His “home” were poor;  His first new-found friends  (in His immediate surroundings) were poor, lowly, smelly animals.  Why did God choose such conditions for the birth of His only begotten Son?  About 75% of the population of the world is poor.  Their houses/homes are poor – some even live in squatter areas not deemed livable (Smokey Mountain, [Payatas] dump sites, along the filthy rivers, etc.).  They eke out a living from the garbage thrown by wealthy people (“pagpag food,” “nangangalakal,” shanties from recycled garbage, etc.)  and live hungry and homeless on the streets dependent on the charity of people.  Some resort to illegal modes of survival (“kapit-sa-patalim” – theft, drugs, fraud, etc.).  Amidst the materialism, pomp and circumstance of the [Holiday] Season, where is the Christmas spirit in the gifts we share especially with the poor?

JOYFUL INVITATION:  The choir of angels proclaimed the Birth of the Messiah – the Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.  The heavens declared the glory of God by a cosmic apparition, the huge Comet – Star of Bethlehem – to announce to the world the same Good News of the Birth of the Savior.  Reaching the far regions of the earth, the Magi also saw the Good News of the coming of the King of kings.  Long beforehand, the prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zephaniah, etc. – were already chosen to predict the coming of the Lord.  In the Lord’s First Coming, God made the announcements and invitations to the Banquet of the Lord by natural and divine occurrences.  Did people listen?  In the Final End, Second Coming, the world has already been given the signs of the Day of the Lord, including the spiritual requirements needed to prepare for such Glorious Event.  But are people listening?  Most people in the world probably think this is fake news.  The social media seems to emphasize the benefits of the Halloween merry-making more than the peace and beauty of the Christmas celebration and joyful expectation of the Lord’s Second Coming.  For the remaining faithful, are we really ready to accept Jesus in our hearts?

PROFOUND ACCEPTANCE: How do we accept Jesus Christ as Lord/Savior?  AS:

  • Pastoral King – The Shepherd King of Love and Mercy: One who knows us and we know Him as well.  We are the lambs/servant disciples with an intimate relationship with Him.  He is the Understanding Parent, Compassionate Guide in our daily struggles, Leader in the righteous path, and Protector from the pitfalls of life.  (Read Psalm 27.)
  • Prophetic King – The Prophet King of Truth and Justice:  One who will warn but will lovingly discipline us and tell us how to behave – Trusted Leader in righteousness, Model Teacher (Par Excellence) of the Truth about the Kingdom of God, Loving Enforcer of Divine Justice, and eventually the Final Judge at the End Times or on the Day of the Lord.
  • Priestly King – Highest Priest in the Kingdom of God:  the “Branch” linking us to God the Father in Heaven.  With the Holy Eucharist, we are forever connected with Him to share in His royal priesthood in the abundant life on earth as it is in the Eternal Life in His Heavenly Home. 

What more do we want from this iconic and ironic figure?  He was born poor, lived poorly, and died poor:  From a borrowed wretched crib, to borrowed itinerant nests, and finally into a borrowed grave, this poor King on earth IS eventually richly enthroned in Heaven.  AND HE HAS MADE US HEIRS IN HIS ROYAL KINGDOM!



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