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Exposition





 

          The essence of the simbang gabi is centered on the Jesus, who has made the salvation of humankind possible. More than being a “prophet,” Jesus was proclaimed Savior/Redeemer even before his birth. The very name “Jesus” means “God is salvation.” Today many Filipinos are strongly attracted to Jesus as their personal Savior “who gave himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). In one Eucharistic acclamation we proclaim: “Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world!” Thus both Scripture and the liturgy invite us to see Christ our Lord in terms of his saving work. Christ saved by being the revelation of the Father. To his followers Jesus promised: “If you live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31f). His teachings set us free because they offer meaning and purpose in life, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and despair. Jesus taught: “I am the light of the world. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall posses the light of life” (Jn 8:12). “I have come into the world as its light, to keep anyone who believes in me from remaining in the dark” (Jn 12:46). The Christian Faith stands or falls on the confession of Jesus as the only Son of God, our Lord (cf. CCC 441-50). He is the center of our Christian Faith. Hence he is the heart and center of catechesis only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.  Because of the “importance” of Jesus’ birth in his mission of redemption, we Filipinos find it a necessity to further celebrate it and express our faith. Jesus freely and consciously went to his death to fulfill the mission he had from his Father. He saw himself fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies by “giving his life in ransom for the many” (Mk 10:45)”Our Savior Christ Jesus. . . sacrificed himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for himself a people of his own, eager to do what is right” (Ti 2:14). Christ died because of our sins, and to overcome our sinfulness and its effects in the world. Thus he made possible our own repentance and sacrifices, to share in his redemptive work

          Misa de aguinaldo is literally translated as mass of the Christmas gift. Here the emphasis is the gift by the Father of the Son who became flesh on Christmas day. It serves as a reminder of what Christians need to do in return in terms of gift giving to God and to one another. It is the expression of the unique relationship between Filipinos and God.

The sacrament of the Eucharist then becomes the ideal medium for Filipinos because of its communal and guiding nature. The Eucharistic celebration brings us together as a community in Christ in whom we have "received the means for giving worthy worship to God" (SC 5). This community worship in and through the Risen Christ celebrates most perfectly all the essential goals of prayer: thanksgiving, praise and adoration of God, contrition for our sins, petition for His grace, and offering of all we have, do and are. Filipino Catholics generally have high regard for the Eucharistic celebration, or "Holy Mass" as they usually refer to it. This is because Catholics in general realize in some way that "going to Mass" is the most basic action of Catholic worship. In fact, the Eucharist is the centerpiece of the seven ritual sacraments and "the source and summit of the whole Christian life," the Eucharist (cf. LG 11; CCC 1324).

The Eucharist is how Catholics worship God as members of Christ's Body, the Church. It is the memorial of Christ's sacrifice, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and the center of his sacramental presence, uniting the "People of God," the Church. "In the sacrament of the Eucharistic Bread the unity of believers who form one body in Christ, is both expressed and brought about" (LG 3). Filipino Catholics used to be urged to "attend" Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. But now this is changed to emphasize that the Church together with Christ actually celebrates the Eucharist. In the Mass Jesus actually incorporates us into his very redeeming sacrifice. Therefore, in celebrating on the altar "the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Passover [Paschal lamb] has been sacrificed' (1 Cor 5:7), the work of our redemption is carried on"

The center of the Eucharist as Thanksgiving Worship is Christ, the Supreme Worshipper of the Father. For the Eucharist encompasses Christ's whole life of total self-giving to the Father and to us. Not only does Jesus reveal the Father's love for us, and show us how we are to love and commit ourselves to God in return. Christ also enables us to share in his own thanksgiving and thus offer fitting worship to the Father.  In this way, the Eucharist can inspire the typical Filipino Catholic to an intense, persevering personal commitment to the goals of service and evangelization.

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