The family's Christmas journey

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By Luci Lizares

Saturday, December 28, 2013

AT THE Sacred Heart Shrine, Mons Louie Galbines has set up a Christmas Village made up of 13 homes. The homes represent our journey as a family through life. It is the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus. It is a journey that epitomizes every family complete with hopes, wishes, prayers and symbolisms.

As I went from one home to another with Iñigo, the story unfolds.

The story starts in the town of Nazareth where the Mary was to be married to Joseph the carpenter. The Angel Gabriel appeared before her and told her she had been chosen to have a special baby. The Baby would be God's son and she would call her Jesus. Mary obediently accepted. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary said. "May it be to me as you have said." Mary's Obedience is the prayer of the first home. Just as much as Jesus, you came into the world to obey your Father's will from birth until the end. We ask this Christmas for our souls to burn and comply with God's will. We ask for blessings like Mama Mary who obediently followed the Father's will. The symbol used for the First Home is the bell to gather people together for the teaching and preaching of God's word. With time, the bell came to be associated with the Lord's work and to symbolize something sacred.

The Second Home is about faithfulness. It was difficult for Joseph to understand Mary's pregnancy and he planned to divorce her. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid. In obedience, Joseph took Mary as his wife and became a father to her son, Jesus. A family's prayer is for Faithfulness. Jesus came into this world faithful and true to His Father's will. We ask for blessings to remain in the spirit of purity and to continually reflect in Jesus' faithfulness. The symbol for faithfulness is the Christmas wreath which is circular which has no beginning, or end representative of an Eternal God.

Prayers for Courage and Safe Journey are the themes for the Third Home, just like the flight of Joseph and Mary. In today's world, there are many challenges as families are torn apart. May they be enveloped with courage and protection during journeys as breadwinners. A Christmas stocking is symbolic of liberation from poverty. The legend goes that St. Nicolas would put bars of gold on young maidens so that they would have money for dowry and therefore could marry instead of being sold as slaves.

Diligence is the story of the Fourth Home. It took Joseph and Mary almost a week to reach Bethlehem to pay their taxes. Christmas wishes for parents to have better time management, performing daily work with integrity in mind, and for children to be diligent in studying and in school work. An angel, God's messenger, symbolizes the Fourth Home.

Peace so wanting today is the prayer for the Fifth Home. Tranquility in the home and harmonious relationships with one another is represented by the dove.

The mistletoe is synonymous to Love and the Sixth Home's prayer is for patience. There was no room in the Inn but Mary and Joseph were patient and persevered. Just as much that we must be patient with unkind words and cruelty.

In the Seventh Home, we seek prayers for strength in trials. As Mary felt the heaviness of her pregnancy, her endurance to the present trial was put to a test but she trusted God. The holly which is prickly reflects the pain when we are undergoing trials. We just need to entrust all trials to God and His grace will shower us!

Finally, an innkeeper had a stable to share. A prayer for compassion is asked of us as we journey through life. If we can give and express our concern to another, we fulfill the message of Christmas. The red Poinsettia that blooms during Christmas time tells us that there is a beautiful flower that will bloom for us like a star.

The Nativity Scene should be a replica of our homes as in the Eighth Home. The King of Kings was born in a lowly manger. We plead for Humility especially with estranged relationships. Let not pride or arrogance topple a happy family.

An angel appeared to the shepherds to tell them of the birth of the Christ Child and they respected this news and went in search of He who is to save the world. We appeal for respect in the home. That children respect their parents and parents too understand and respect their children. The Candy Cane in the shape of a Shepherd's crook is a reminder that the Good Shepherd is coming to the world. The red stripes will be the blood He will shed to save us and the white is His purity.

When the shepherds saw the Baby Jesus, they knelt down in prayer. Just like the shepherds, we too must kneel down and thank the Lord for His generosity of giving us His Son to save us. The 10th Home tells us that we too must be generous with our time, our talent and our treasures. And like Santa Claus, we must not boast of our generosity.

A bright star appeared to some Wise Men in the East. They knew that the Savior has been born and they followed the bright star. The star is the symbol of hope and we should never succumb to desperation because with Christ hope springs eternal. That is the story of the 11th Home.

When the Wise Men searched for this Ruler, Herod was troubled because he was afraid that he would soon lose his throne. Cunningly, he told them to advise him once they have found the new King. But the Wise Men were not fooled by Herod. They prayed and after they found Jesus, they went home the other way. Let us be people who have time to pray and ask that our lives be graced with piety. The candles and lights that mark the 12th Home speaks of Jesus as the Light of the world. No follower of mine will ever walked in darkness!

And finally, the 13th Home, are gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the prophetic gifts of the Magi. Gold fit for a King; frankincense for a priest; and myrrh for the Suffering Redeemer. Also, they represent virtue, prayer and suffering. As Jesus gave His life for us, He is the greatest allocator of graces. Likewise we must be charitable at home and to others in thought in word and in deed.

The Christmas Village in the Sacred Heart Shrine will be displayed until Epiphany. It is a good way to relate to the Christmas Story not only as it happened to Mary, Joseph and Jesus but also how we should journey through our lives in virtue.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 28, 2013.


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