This year I was in Bethlehem for the second time in my life, something I did not expect to happen again since even the first pilgrimage was for me enough to last a lifetime. But there I was in Bethlehem, the sweet little town we read in the Gospel of S.t Luke, which became the privileged place for the merging of heaven and earth. The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ was born in a  humble manger in an undignified cave in this place.
It is said that millions wish to go to Bethlehem each year to kiss the holy ground traditionally believed to be the grotto where the Lord was born. As I kissed it again, I was holding in my hand a little image of the Infant Jesus, made of olive wood, and a cherished memorabilia of this particular visit.  I wish to allow my parishioners to kiss this image on Christmas day, a spiritual sharing of my experience.
Why do we go to Bethlehem? Why do we desire to visit this place?  Why do we re-visit Bethlehem each year, at least spiritually, on this very holy day? 
It is because Bethlehem means blessing. The “house of bread” is an overflowing basket of nourishment for all God’s people. Bethlehem draws us to the Child who blesses the world with his birth, with his life, with his presence in the flesh as the Savior and Lord of all.
This Christmas day let us pray that Bethlehem will bless us again with an encounter with the greatest gift of the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord… now our brother!  We offer spiritually to the Child of Bethlehem all in us that needs to be blessed.
Let us ask Bethlehem to bless our minds.  There are so many anxieties, so many pressing problems to solve.  Sometimes our minds seem to explode with the daily concerns that sap our energy and deaden our hope.  Child of Bethlehem, bless our minds with peace.
Let us ask Bethlehem to bless our hearts.  Even as we celebrate, we cannot escape from the fears that cripple us.  There are various emotions that destroy our happiness.  Some of us are angry and bitter.  Some are resentful and some are in great pain. We are overpowered by so many desires, not all of them good for us. Child of Bethlehem, bless our hearts with joy.
Let us ask Bethlehem to bless our hands. We want to be productive and creative.  But for some people there is no work to be found these days.  Our job does not yield enough for our needs. We cannot keep up with the rising cost of commodities and services.  At times we are tempted to do bad things just to survive.  Child of Bethlehem, bless our hands with honesty and power.
Let us ask Bethlehem to bless our feet. For many, life seems directionless. After marriages have broken down, after people have turned their backs on us, we no longer know where to turn.  Young restless hearts are looking for love, and cannot find it in the home. Old people feel they do not belong, even within the family they cared for with so much devotion. Where do we go?  How do we move on from this confusion? Child of Bethlehem, bless our feet with a sense of purpose.
Let us ask Bethlehem to embrace our whole body.  We all long for love.  We want to share love, but we also want to receive it.  There are times, we love too much and receive too little. There are times, we are selfish instead of selfless.  When people around us do not support and encourage us, we feel betrayed and abandoned. We want to know how to truly love and to responsibly accept it.  Child of Bethlehem, bless us and keep us in your embrace.
May Bethlehem remain in our lives all through the coming days and years.  May Bethlehem never leave us but be a secure refuge when we need to get in touch with God again and again. 
Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!