Bishop Parcon’s Christmas message
It was a dark and cold night. The evening after our celebration of the first Misa de Gallo was terrible for all of us. It was a dreary and horrible night. Typhoon Odette devastated our lives. Many of our houses were wrecked. Many of our families were made homeless. The roofs that supposed to cover us from the sun’s heat and from the threats of rain were destroyed, and our houses have become coverless. Our trees can no longer give us shade. Our shelters are no longer safe. The comforts were gone. Provisions are now scarce. That night and the nights thereafter have been dark and cold for almost all of us.
On the morning after that night, even if some celebration of the Misa de Gallo was cancelled, people still flocked our churches expecting for the Mass. On that day, we still have seen the sun shine. Come with the light, we see the real score. From the ruins of our houses, we see our loved ones smile. From the roofless abodes, we see our friends trying to live on a new day. From the shattered lives, we see our families struggling to rise up again. From whatever is left, we see not hopeless people but people filled with the spirit of a true Christian faith.
This Christmas, this one after the Christmas of Covid-19, is yet a different Christmas. We are no longer divided by facemasks and social distance. Nor are we divided my walls and towering fences. We now share this Christmas under the bright moon and the twinkling stars. We now have our common roof – the sky of the Lord which connects us all and which weaves all our hopes and dreams for the future. This is but another test. And yes, we have survived.
Our celebration of Christmas this year came early when on that horrible night, when the typhoon came, we were all troubled by the safety of our loved ones. Our celebration of Christmas this year came early when, on the morning after that terrifying night, we have seen strangers becoming neighbors sharing similar concerns and those left for provisions. Our celebration of Christmas this year came early when, a day after Odette came, we see homeless people trying to fix for others their temporary tents. Our celebration of Christmas came when after the storm, we have stood by our identity as Christians – one that does not easily give up hope and one that continues to care for others over and above personal needs.
This Christmas Eve, many of us may be homeless and hungry and exhausted from the recent burdens and stress, we keep in mind that we are one with the Holy Family – who on the first Christmas were homeless and hungry and tired too. Yet, after all they have gone through, in their midst was born the Light. That same Light continues to shine on us all until today. That same Light continues to live on in each one of us up until today.
The Light comes to us in various faces. He comes to us in the face of a mother who was troubled by her son’s safety during that dreadful night. He comes to us in the face of brother who tried to protect his younger siblings from falling debris. He comes to us whenever a little spark of good deed is done despite the threat of one’s very life.
In the Bishop’s House, after Typhoon Odette ravaged our lives, we see light in the happy face and light disposition of Chicky. She is one of our active youth members in the parish. Since the day after the typhoon, she comes to us in the Bishop’s House and she tells us various stories of hope and jokes. She tells us stories that make us laugh. She seems to do it effortlessly. She brings light to the troubled hearts of our workers whose houses were ravaged by Odette. She makes our preparations for relief operations fun. She lightens the burden of the hearts of us priests who are also struggling to keep our strength amidst all the seeming hopelessness. Chicky brings to us the Light… although she too is homeless, totally at that; no belongings nor anything, she makes us see the Light.
The days to come will be long for many of us. We will rise again and fight. As we do that, we continue to remember that among us is the Light… for unto us is born the Light, PUER NATUS EST.
As the Lord, our Light, was born on a cold and dark night, our hearts continue to bleed for those whose lives are forced to live on the struggling lives. Our hearts are troubled for those in the islands of Ubay, Bien Unido, Talibon, Getafe and neighboring municipalities whose houses are damaged, no shade to shelter from and no food and water to sustain efforts to live each life every trying day.
In the end, we are very much grateful to the generosity of the hearts of many who continue to care for us. Although our signal for communication and power for electricity are down, we are thankful for those who have kept our needs in mind. To the Bishop of Tagbilaran, to the Commission on Social Action, to the friends of Fr. Jose Conrado Estafia, to the Caritas International, Caritas Manila, CBCP-NASSA and to the many generous hearts in and outside the province and abroad, we can never thank you enough. May the Good Lord keep you in His Light.
Christmas is the birth of the Light. So, in the midst of this physical darkness brought about by the recent onslaught of Odette, and the spiritual, psycho-emotional crisis experienced by most of us because of the damaged chapels, churches, properties and the lost of lives, Christmas is still Christmas for us. The Light of Christ will certainly be our beacon of faith, hope and love.
May we continue to live in His Light. May we continue to draw from Him our strength, our Fortitudo, who is ever with us. He is born unto us and will continue to live with us.
A blessed Christmas to all!
Bishop of Talibon
24 December 2021
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