Christmas about ‘birth, lightness’ of Jesus; 1st dawn mass ‘peaceful’
BEYOND the twinkling Christmas lights that make homes and streets glow, Cebuano faithful are urged to remember the essence of the celebration, which is not about the festive decoration but the birth and lightness of Jesus Christ.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma shared these thoughts during his homily at the first Misa de Gallo, the series of nine early morning masses leading up to Christmas Day, at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu City on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.
“Sure, it’s nice to walk around the streets at night and see all the Christmas lights, but let’s not forget they represent the brightness of Jesus Christ,” Palma said in mixed Cebuano and English.
He said that when there is no light, it implies darkness. He said darkness signifies engaging in wrong actions and getting involved in unlawful things, thus, he motivated everyone to prepare to welcome Jesus because he brings brightness and goodness into people’s lives.
“Darkness isn’t just the absence of light; it’s also about doing wrong things. This Christmas, let’s prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus, who is like a guiding light for us,” the religious leader added.
He urged the Cebuano faithful to steer clear of actions that could harm society. His advice was straightforward, do not become “anak sa kangitngit” or children of darkness in English.
Palma also emphasized the crucial roles of godfathers and godmothers, known as “ninong” and “ninang,” in baptism. They are expected to actively participate in nurturing their godchild or “kinugos,” serving as a guiding light in their lives.
He explained that, during baptism ceremonies, the act of lighting candles by the godparents symbolizes their commitment to taking responsibility for being a guiding light and making positive impacts on the lives of their godchildren.
Meanwhile, Jamie Naadat, a 24-year-old resident of Barangay Tejero, Cebu City, who works as an account management analyst in a gaming firm, said that attending Misa de Gallo is vital as it is one of the Christmas traditions her family observed while she was growing up.
As a young professional, she chose to continue the practice, saying “Christmas celebration would not be complete without attending Misa de Gallo.”
Naadat said she is surprised that many people, despite being busy at work, found the time to go to church for the Misa de Gallo.
In Catholic-majority nations like the Philippines, Misa de Gallo unites communities in a shared expression of faith. The dawn masses symbolize the joyful anticipation of Jesus Christ’s birth, reinforcing the spiritual significance of the Christmas season.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 described the first day of Misa de Gallo as peaceful with no major crimes recorded.
According to Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesman for PRO 7 Director Brig. Gen. Anthony Aberin, the large police presence was the reason behind the calm and peaceful church activity.
Although many people attended the first day of the nine-day dawn masses in big churches like the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu City, Pelare noted that no significant crimes occurred, except for traffic accidents.
“Matawag gyud nato nga generally peaceful ang Misa de Gallo kay wala man ta maka-record og major incidents,“ Pelare said.
(We can consider Misa de Gallo to be generally peaceful because we did not record any major incidents).
Before the Misa de Gallo started, Aberin and Cebu City Police Office Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog inspected the churches to make sure police assistance desks were set up and deployed police officers were doing their jobs.
The PRO 7 reiterated its call to the public not to wear jewelry and bring large amounts of cash when attending mass to prevent snatchers from preying on them. / KJF / AYB, TPT