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Christmas is just around the corner and Simbang Gabi (Filipino Dawn Christmas Novena Masses) are starting.  Like the people in the gospel crowding around John, we come to church in droves, driven by tradition yes, but for many of us, driven by a thirst for the meaning of this season of grace and salvation.  I am sure, many of you are asking the Lord, while preparing for this birthday, “What should we do?”  Like the people in the gospel, we expect answers, guidance, directions.
What should we do?  First, FOCUS ON JESUS!  It is so tempting to be drawn to the glitters of Christmas, its decorations, its gifts, its lures of shopping and parties.  As we go to Mass in these days leading to Our Lord’s birth, let us open our hearts to him and dedicate our lives to him.  Simbang Gabi is a crowded and congested occasion in our churches but Jesus has a message for each of us.  We come as families and as groups of friends but let us remember that this is above all a spiritual and not a social event.  Let love for Jesus prevail.  Focus on the Lord.
What should we do?  FOCUS ON SACRIFICE! Simbang Gabi needs commitment.  We wake up so early.  Or we rush to it in the evening after work, for those who like the anticipated Mass.  And we must do it for 9 complete days.  For many though, we go to Simbang Gabi excitedly in the first 3 days and then disappear for the rest of the novena. But we re-appear on the last day!  There is sacrifice in completing a promise, a vow, a pledge of love.  There is sacrifice in praying for our families, in reflecting on our lives, in renewing our desire to be holy and whole again.  Focus on sacrifice.
What should we do?  FOCUS ON LOVE! Before Christmas, we begin to dream of what we will receive as gifts. But it is also the moment to reverse the impulse and think of what we can offer to others, especially to those who need our love the most. Are there people in your family, school, neighborhood who you need to greet, visit or reconcile with?  Do you have space in your heart for the suffering people and the poor?