Sharing with you the 25-Day Advent reflection I did to prepare myself for Baby Jesus this Christmas.
Day #1: And then, it is December. May we hear and receive the same good news given to Mary: Hope is born within us through Christ.
Day #2: See Christ more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly.
Day #3: Lets live with intention in this season of waiting. Lets honor the story–the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth–with each choice that we make. Lets us be drawn closer and closer to the heart, the beating heart of the story, and not to the glitters, gifts, and parties at every turn, so that what matters most will become clear to us this season.
Day #4: There’s beauty in waiting because that’s when faith, hope, love, and trust blossom. That’s what the Lord wants us to learn to appreciate when He takes His time in answering our prayers.
Day #5: Life is a constant advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to complete, to heal, and to fulfill. May this season of hope be a time transformation, healing, and fullfilment for us.
Day #6: Hope is what gets us through desperate days. If we can just inspire hope in others with our simple words and actions, imagine the many joyful and grateful hearts celebrating the gift of Jesus this Christmas.
Day #7: Are you waiting with expectant faith for the Lord to bless you with that one thing you have been longing to have? Wait in hope, for in absolute quietness, in the most unexpected place, and unexpected ways it shall be given to you. Much like how the Lord gifted the world with the greatest blessing ever known.
Day #8: Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mama Mary in the womb of her mother. She was born without original sin so she could fullfill her divine purpose of being Jesus’ mother. Until recently, I used to think that my purpose in life was to be a wife then a mother. But then, the events these past five years have made it clear to me what I am exactly here for. Not quite the wife but definitely a mother to my child. Since the Lord has entrusted Bianca in my care, it is my job to see to it see to it that she grows into the kind of person the Lord wants her to become. That’s my God-given mission and that’s what gives my life purpose.
To be chosen as mothers of our children is not an easy task. In fact, it is quite a tall order because in the process of raising our children heartbreak/ heartache is a given. My prayer for us mothers then is for us to be blessed with the same quiet confidence, courage, and grace like Mama Mary so we can fully embrace and carry out our mission of raising God-fearing, God-loving, and God-pleasing children.
Day #9: Advent is the season to give our faith a workout, to exercise our hope and love muscles. Some years make that difficult than the others so I am glad that advent comes every year to give us another chance to practice a hopeful and loving way of being into this world.
Everytime we sing songs from christmas past, put up decorations excitedly, tell inspiring christmas stories, surprise a needy, give lots and lots to charity, and use our special gift to inspire smiles in this season of advent, we honor the sacred story of hope and love that is the Nativity. Everytime we remember that God loves us and how we should extend this love to others in this season of advent, the joy and peace that the Baby Jesus in the manger brought into this world are born within us. So let’s try advent and live advent once again.
Day #10: Wherever you are and whatever you will be doing this week, dare to look for Jesus right there in the midst of it. Dare to find him in all things and you’ll be surprised at how often he’ll shows up.
Day #11: This season I’m letting go of the perfect holiday in my head. I won’t rush to every party, shop every gift, or plan the best christmas trips. Instead, I am choosing love, rest, and grace, affixing my steady gaze not on the glittering lights and extravagant sights but on that bright shining star that would lead me to the true reason for this season.
Day #12: More than our homes, lets fill our hearts with joy and expectation this advent season, for the best CHRISTmas trimming that we can ever display is a smile of great anticipation and gratitude for the gift of Christ, our Savior.
Day #13: In the middle of meditation in the advent recollection today, Fr. Penacoba jokingly exclaimed, “I am glad to see all of you resting there like a sleeping St. Joseph!” Rest is almost impossible these days. We are either chasing work deadlines, running errands, or beating the traffic and the christmas rush. But then, what if even just for this advent, we deliberately slow down or pause, and fiercely fight for our prayer time and quiet time with the Lord? What if even just for this advent, we find our way to a recollection, retreat, or mass, and try to be all there. What if even just for this advent, we choose love, rest, and grace? What a beautiful and meaningful christmas it will be for us.
Day #14: Embrace slow, savor stillness, and seek quiet. Prepare your heart for Him.
Day #15: Today, I got my christmas surprise early and it has reduced me to tears.
After being out of school for a good number of days for medical reasons, functioning literally with just 1 healthy lung for weeks, and dealing with a mountain of missed assessments when she finally returned back to school, she still managed to snag this.
Ginapang. Pinaghirapan. With single-minded focus, she painstakingly completed her missed assessments alongside the current ones, on one occassion even taking both midterms and finals on the same day; determinedly approached her teachers to request for coaching and one on one; laboriously poured over youtube tutorials and other internet resources to understand lessons she did not get to learn first hand; and even carefully planned her work schedule at home so she can finish her homework and meet my non-negotiable 10:30 pm bedtime. All this while recovering and healing from what to her was her most traumatic medical experience ever.
She is not the smartest girl but she has always been mentally tough, emotionally resilient, driven, and persistent. She has always been extremely motivated by this immense desire to rise above every challenging situation that comes her way. Life has never been easy for this girl but by God’s amazing grace, she always pull through, beautifully.
I am proud of you Bianca Angela for having the guts and the grit to go after your goal this year despite the odds. If there’s one person who truly deserve to be in this list, it is you. If in the future you begin to doubt your ability to achieve your goal or get past a difficult situation, you have this to remind you that you can and you will.
Day #16: It was still dark when I left the house this morning, rushing to make it to BCBP’s simbang gabi and breakfast in Alabang Country Club. In my haste, I didn’t get a chance to give the car a quick once over.
When my morning activities were done, I was itching to go home because I knew that Bianca was waiting for me and her friends I am bringing along for a sleep over in our house. Trisha, Bianca’s friend was already with me when Phoebe arrived. When her car pulled over at the driveway, I quickly ran to her mom to request for us to be dropped off in the parking lot. Normally I do not mind walking the short distance but for some reason this morning, I wasn’t up for it.
When we reached my car and were about to exchange goodbyes, the driver of the car beside me quickly lowered down his window to say, “Maam, iniintay ko po kayo kasi flat yung gulong nyo sa likod.” Unfortunately, I do not know how to change tires and doesn’t even have the tools for it. Good thing, Phoebe’s driver readily changed it for me. Good thing that at the last minute, they decided to bring him along. Good that the car beside me decided to park next to me or else I wouldn’t have noticed the flat rear tire. Good thing it happened when I was already parked safely and not when I was speeding along Daang Hari.
Clearly, this is God’s pattern. He always plans everything so well. He always rescues. He always saves. He always shows up at exactly the right time.
Day #17: Jesus wasn’t born into a perfect family. Before he came into this world, his parents had to deal with a lot of issues. Mary’s surprise pregnancy, Joseph’s initial fear and reluctance to assume the responsibility, and maybe their financial readiness too. But I guess in the end, what made them decide to work things out are two things: faith and love. They believe that building a family together is what the Lord wants from them and they love each other enough to rise above their personal issues. Although it wasn’t the most ideal situation, they made the best out of it by working hard to build a good life. May these two things guide us too as we face the many challenges of raising and keeping our families together.
Day #18: Amidst the whirlwind of christmas parties, get-togethers, reunions, special events, and shopping, my fervent prayer is this: Lord, unrush me.
Day #19: May prayer tonight: Lord, may I find the time, space, and energy in this busy season to prepare my heart for the coming of Jesus.
Day #20: Where did Baby Jesus go? I feared that the world had forgotten him.
I have always had this dream of making Christmas special for my students and so this year with the help of my colleagues in the level, I dared myself to achieve it, through service learning. Today, our Grade 2 students surprised the dedicated Outsourced Staff of our school from the auxilliary, security, and canteen department with gifts that they wish to receive this Christmas. Gifts as simple as pang noche buena, bagong helmet para mapalitan na yung sira, disenteng T-shirt, wall fan, laruang pambata, gift certificate sa isang restaurant para makakain sa masarap ang pamilya, nebulizer para sa 3 month old baby na kailangan pang ibyahe at dalin sa ospital kapag hinihika, at madaming pang “kahit ano po basta bukal sa pusong” hiling ngayong pasko.
To make Christmas special for my students. That was the dream, that was the plan and today, we achieved it. It became special because for a change, there was a reversal of roles. The ates and kuyas who provide them help, care, and protection in school everyday were the ones at the receiving end. They were the ones smiling from ear to ear, squealing in delight, tearing up in joy, not quite believing that the simple yet deepest desires of their hearts this Christmas were granted by the Grade 2 students. Special because for a change, it puts Christmas in a different light. My student, Neena, sums up the exprience beautifully when she said, “We did not get any gift from them. (Instead) We gave them gifts, (yet) it also feels soooo good. My partner keeps on thanking me and I (just) keep on smiling and smiling (at him) because I am thinking, I might have given him the best Christmas.”
Where did Baby Jesus go? My students have not forgotten him. In fact today, these kids just gave him the best tribute.
Day #21: Bianca woke up excited this morning because she’s going to spend time with her bestfriend, Cathy, today. They rarely see each other since Cathy goes to another school now and lives far from our place. They miss each other so much that each time they part ways, they would start counting the days till their next sleep over. They would both wait in joy and in quiet anticipation for that day to come, and when it finally does, I imagine, it must probably feels like Christmas for both of them. Are you waiting for Christmas the same way too? Four days to go before this much anticipated occassion, are your hearts ready for Baby Jesus?
Day #22: My fervent advent prayer: May the lost and missing find their way home. May their angels bring them safely home.
Day #23: Advent is a season of waiting and waiting is one thing we are never really good at. We often wonder, why do we have to wait long before we get the answer to our prayers? I guess sometimes God forces us to wait to remind us that it is His story, His plans, and His promises. He forces us to wait so it is clear to us that He is in control. He forces us to wait so we may learn to fully trust that He will deliver and save, as He promised.
Day #24: Tonight, I raise a glass of warm chocolate milk in holiday cheer and wish you and yours a very merry christmas. If you are lucky enough to be blissfully celebrating this special occassion with your whole family right now, I pray that the Lord will continue to bless and keep you together. If, on the otherhand, you are miles away from them, longing, or still grieving over their loss, or even lacking in want or in need, I pray that you find completeness, joy, and peace in Jesus. May He be enough for you this CHRISTmas and may you allow His loving presence to fill your heart with so much joy such that there will be no room in it for anything other than endless gratitude and love. Have a bliss/blessFULL CHRISTmas everyone.
Day #25: The birth of Jesus Christ, next to His crucifixion, was the most momentous event in the history of the world. It became the focal point of all history. Everything before Christ looked forward to His birth, and everything since then looks back at Him. It was such a crucial event that now all the world numbers years according to it. B.C. means “before Christ”, and A.D. means “anno domini,” “in the year of our Lord.” (John MacArthur Jr.)—His birth, which we know now as CHRISTmas, changed the world. Happy birthday, Jesus.