High School Graduation: Class of 2019 Valedictory Speech

Cham_Grad_2
Graduation June 27, 2019 (Photo: Twitter @FaisalHassanNDP)

Thursday June 27, 2019 was a very memorable day as over 230 young men of the Class of 2019 graduated Chaminade College School after four years walking through the halls and sitting in the classrooms of the 55 year-old school. To my surprise, my peers elected me to represent them in giving the valedictorian speech. I thank those who proofread this speech, and offered kind advice in making this speech as representative of the Class of 2019 as possible. The following is the text I presented the night of graduation: 

Dear staff, parents, guests and friends of the class of 2019,If you know me, I am not keen on speaking in front of large crowds, or giving scripted speeches, but these young men have chosen me to represent them, so I will give it my best. 

Four years have gone by, 40 months of high school from September 2015 to June 2019. Many ups and downs, laughter and tears, joys and sorrows. 

I don’t know if you can recall, but every parent got a gold handbook like this, and it said “Class of 2019”. When I saw the booklet, I thought, “2019? When is that going to come?” And I am sure many of the young graduates here thought the same thing. 

Four years may seem like a long time, but those who have been through high school can testify that it is not. Tonight is a night to celebrate what these four years have brought back to every one of us young men. We entered a high school classroom from all walks of life, from north, south, west and east, attending a school on 490 Queen’s Drive. But what did attending this 55 year old school these past four years bring us?

Some may say that these four years gave me y=mx+b, y=x^2, or knowing the parts of a PC from the hard drive, RAM… or knowing how to mix colours to get a new tone for a painting, how to give a proper presentation, how to cite work… But Chaminade College School hopefully brought  us something much more than that. 

Many of these young men sitting here have been very active in sports such as football, cross-country, track and field, ultimate frisbee team to name a few. Some were involved in various clubs such as Student Council, the Outdoors Club, Stop the Stigma, while some were involved in the smallest tasks within the school community such as setting up the gym about 9 to 10 times for Mass, or taking part in the Mass band. These sports, clubs and other small things that we have taken part in has helped to form who we are today. 

Thankfully, there is so much more to Chaminade than just marks, clubs and sports. For four years, we have been identifying ourselves as, “the men of green and gold”. But some of you may be asking, why “men of green and gold?” Why not red and white? Blue and gold? Or any other colour? Green represents the hope that young people have in themselves, a hope to do well in school, a hope to succeed. Gold represents strength, strength that young people should have within themselves. This strength does not pertain to just a physical strength. Rather all goes back to the words on the crest that we have been proudly wearing the past four years, “FORTES IN FIDE – STRONG IN FAITH.” 

We leave Chaminade not only with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, but hopefully with stronger faith, because that is what makes a Catholic school – the aspect of faith. It is the hope that we leave here tonight as men of strong faith not only in God and his Church, but also in ourselves as well. Hopefully we have learned exactly what St. Paul said, “I can do ALL things in Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).

I hope we leave tonight seeing ourselves as different people than who we were in September of 2015. I believe that if we have seen some positive change in ourselves, then our parents and teachers have done their job well.  

Tonight we should take the opportunity to not only celebrate the class of 2019, but also offer some words of thanks for those who have brought us to this day. 

We first of all give thanks to almighty God for his great love for us. It is through His love and guiding hand for having placed great people within our lives to lead us in faith, hope and love. 

Our parents were our first teachers and planted in us the seed, to help us grow into who we are today. Their care and concern for their children is great, which may upset, or even get us stressed… but deep down, we know that all comes from a great heart. 

Tonight would not come to us without the great staff at Chaminade. We owe a great debt to these people sitting up here. They have spent countless hours not only teaching, but many of them coaching, and moderating clubs. These people strive to get young men to succeed in school and in life.

I know that there are some parents and friends who have brought the members of the class of 2019 to where they are today that have gone before us, according to the Lord’s plans. Let us take a moment of silence to thank them, and pray for the repose of their souls (moment of silence).

My last words go out to my fellow classmates in the class of 2019. Dear friends, it has been a blessing for all of us to walk through the same halls and sit in the same classes for the past four years. Each of you have been a gift and we have all been blessed to have known each other. Wherever we go, let us be “Fortes in Fide – let us be Strong in Faith”, because with strong faith, we can do what God wants us to do in our lives. God is good and only wants the best for each and every one of us. 

I would like to close with this short prayer: 

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand. (Irish Blessing)

To all of you, thank you. God bless. 

Advertisements
Posted in About me, Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, School Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Peace be with You.” – A Reflection

9BBD225D-0EB3-42FD-AB2E-030328DD0583

“Peace be with you,” are the first words of the resurrected Lord to his disciples. This may seem like a routine morning “Hello”, or greeting, or a slogan. However, in order to understand the significance of, “Peace be with you,” from the mouth of the resurrected Lord, we must understand that the disciples were scared. At the time Jesus appeared, “the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). The followers of Jesus were scared after the arrest of Jesus in the dark Gethsemane garden. They ran away. The next time we see the disciples gathered is in that locked room.

When someone is scared to the point that they lock themselves in a room, they are not at peace. Therefore, the scared disciples needed peace and Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you,” had great significance. Not only so, Jesus not only promised them peace, but promised them a long lasting peace, as Jesus promised them, “the Spirit”, the Holy Spirit that would descend on them on the day of Pentecost that would not only grant them peace, but a peace that would turn these men who were once weak in spirit, into courageous men who were willing to die for the Gospel that they preached.

“Peace be with you,” is used in several instances in the liturgy. Most predominantly, these words are said after the Libera Nos (Deliver us, Lord),as the celebrant says, “The peace of our Lord be with you always.” In a Mass in which the bishop presides, he greets the people after the Sign of the Cross, as stated in the Roman Missal, “Peace be with you.” In the Rite of Confirmation and Rite of Ordination (to the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate), the principal ordaining bishop gives the Kiss of Peace to the newly ordained saying, “Peace be with you.” The laity exchange each other the words, “Peace be with you,” at the exchange of peace during the Communion of Mass.

“Peace be with you,” is used very frequently in liturgy. However, when the words, “Peace be with you,” are said at Mass, do we recognize the significance of these words? During the exchange of peace at Mass, do we turn to the people around us and say, “Peace be with you,” and recognize that these are the words of Christ, the greeting of Christ that we wish upon one another?

In in fact only realized the significance of these words in recent years when I was going through the texts of the Roman Missal, and encountered the Gospel passage in which Jesus said, “Peace be with you,” to his apostles. Since then, the exchange of peace at Mass, and at every Confirmation and Ordination has reminded me of this Biblical story and of what the resurrected Lord wants to grant each and every one of us.

Human beings need and thirst for peace. When we say, “Peace be with you,” in the context of liturgy and wish it upon one another, let us always be aware that by saying so, we not only wish upon another person a good wish, but we ask the the peace of the risen Lord always be with that person. “Peace be with you,” is wishing upon someone not only a day-to-day peace materialistically, but a peace within one’s heart, peace of faith, an eternal peace.

Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Victory of the Cross at Notre-Dame

“We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.” (Cf. Gal :14)

The glory and victory of the cross is the theme of the Entrance Antiphon of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. In the wake of the events of the fire of the Notre-Dame de Paris, I cannot help but reflect on this antiphon in light of these events.

Notre Dame fire

Interior of Notre-Dame de Paris after the Fire (Credit: Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)

One of the most circulated images after the fire was that of the darkened interior of the Cathedral with the gold cross shining, untouched. For Catholics, this is a striking image – even in the midst of destruction, the cross of Jesus is victorious. It was through the passion on the cross that the resurrection comes and it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Catholic Church has not ceased to exist from generation to generation, even in the midst of persecution, scandals, destruction and ultimately evil and sin.

Nothing can defeat God – that is what the Lectionary readings of the Paschal Triduum makes clear over the next three days.

On Holy Thursday, as Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, showing us that only love will win in the end. No matter how sinful of a life we have had, God would still come down to our level and wash our feet. Love wins because, “God is love” (1Jn 4:8). Jesus shows us through the act of washing the feet of his disciples that it is only when we serve, as servants serving his master are we able to be loving people.

Jesus makes the ultimate act of service through his passion on the cross which we commemorate at the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. As depicted in the first reading of the Celebration, Jesus is the servant of the Lord in Isaiah 52. He took upon the sins of man and paid for it through his death so that we do not have to die. Reading the Passion according to John, even in the sinfulness of man, Jesus freely stretches his arms and feet for the salvation of all.

The narrative of the cross is not complete with that of Good Friday – it is only completed through the resurrection of Jesus because without the resurrection, there would be no such things as Christianity, as Catholicism. At the Easter Vigil, as we sit in the church listening to the history of our salvation, we must understand that it takes suffering to reach victory. While suffering may last a while, the joys of victory is a hundredfold.

Something that fascinates me is that the cross that was once a means of execution, a means of humiliation, a means of death that people feared, after the death and resurrection became a sign of victory, a sign of the resurrection, a universal sign of Christianity. Yet, like St. Paul mentioned, do we take glory in the cross? Do we see it as a sign of victory, a sign of our faith? Or do we see it as a sign of shame?

In a world where some say that Catholicism is slowly being erased from the face of the earth, the events of Notre-Dame showed us that the cross of Jesus will forever stand firm and that evil will never be able to take it down.

Posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Christian, Holy Week, Mercy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Experiences at Salt and Light Television

S+LBlogBanner

“You are the light of the world… you are the salt of the earth.” (Mt 5: 13-14)

I was blessed to have an opportunity to spend 15-weeks learning about Catholic media at Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. As a student enrolled in Chaminade College School’s Specialist High Skills Major, Information Communications Technology sector program, I was to fulfill the requirement of a 2-credit or 4-credit co-op at a placement that pertains to the sector.

At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, I decided I wanted to do my co-op for a semester so to get the full experience. However, even with that decided, the most important piece of the puzzle was missing: my placement. Where did I want to do my co-op?

Flashback to May 2018, I was part of The Catholic Register’s Youth Speak News workshop. As part of the weekend of workshops, the group of youth had the chance to visit Salt and Light Catholic Media’s offices and studios. While I has some fears being a show host for the day, in front the camera and teleprompter, the visit left great impression on me. Months later, I contacted Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media whom I met during the visit about a possible co-op placement and he welcomed me with open arms.

Forward to September, with the help of my co-op teacher, Ms. Rosaria Aquino, we made official contact with Ms. Gita Hosek, the Director of Production and Programming whom Fr. Rosica had referred me to. After much waiting, an interview date was set.

I started placement the Tuesday after the interview. My supervisor Esmeralda Blasi who was also the Production Coordinator was very helpful in introducing me to the various people at Salt and Light and also become more familiar with the work spaces. The other people of the team were very welcoming, allowing me to be part of the team.

For the duration of my placement, I spent most of the time working on preparing transcriptions and time stamping for closed captioning of shows. To me, it was a very humbling task – to sit and set text to the shows so that the captions would appear on screen to aid the hearing impaired or those who would find these captions helpful. My mother often used these captions when watching TV shows in her first years in Canada since she needed could not listen to the English dialogue quick enough. Therefore, I knew how helpful these captions are.

“Don’t you get bored doing captions?” some of my friends in my co-op class asked when they found out what I was doing. My honest answer was. “No”. I loved preparing the closed-captioning. Doing so gave me the chance to get a preview of many of the shows that were to be broadcasted that week. Not only so, as I worked, I was “forced” into listening to these shows carefully. I was exposed to many new dimensions of Christianity. I remember being exposed to the concept of Liberation Theology through an episode of Catholic Focus with Allyson Kenny and Rev. Naim Ateek. On the other hand working on the Where God Weeps episodes helped me to see the state of persecuted Christians all throughout the world. In other words, each show I worked on opened a new door of learning for me, not only on the technical side, but also on a spiritual side.

Some weeks after starting placement, I also started running the teleprompter during show recordings in studio. I often helped Fr. Matt Gworek and Noel Ocol during their recordings of Perspectives Daily and Vatican Connections. These two shows were news shows and by being present for these recordings, I was able to receive my “dose” of the Catholic news, especially during the duration of the Synod of Bishops on Youth and Vocational Discernment in October. I also assisted with the teleprompting for these two shows in French hosted by Charles Le Borgeois and Emilie Callan. While my French was not the best, I was able to learn some new French words here and there just by listening and running the teleprompter.

Other memories I have was the time I sat with Jay Turchansky in the editing suite as I learned and watched him edit an episode of Witness. Honestly, it was overwhelming as I sat in the suite with windows opened as Jay pieced the whole episode together. I have edited short films for Communications-Technology courses, and with my level, it would take typically one to two weeks to edit a 5-minute film.

I had a hands on experience as I actually worked in an editing suite with Philip Boudreau, a university-intern, editing Fr. Matt’s Advent Reflection videos. It was an interesting experience learning from others who have had much experience as they chose shots, added b-roll in a very efficient manner.

I am owe a big “thank you” to first of all, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB for his support of my intentions to fulfill my co-op placement at Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. I have learned much from him, not only about his leadership style but rather, many inner qualities: He is a great father figure, amazing contributor to the Church, an exceptional homilist and very humble.

I am also grateful for the guidance of Ms. Gita Hosek and Ms. Esmeralda Blasi who were my supervisors throughout my 15-weeks at Salt and Light. They have accompanied me and offered their assistance on the technical side, especially during the first weeks at Salt and Light.

My last words of gratitude go to the Salt and Light team from the production department to the master control department… I thank them for their hospitality and assistance in making this co-op experience a positive one.

I now have a much deeper respect for those who work in Catholic media. It takes a team of people who are passionate about the work they do In order to deliver to the Catholic audience salt that would flavour their spiritual food and light that they can use to shine on others.

Posted in Catholic Media, Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, School Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Director’s Commentary: Le Carte

 

lecartecommentary

As first semester wraps up, VACA productions is now out with their second film after last year’s Girarsi.

Challenged to create a film under two minutes, the VACA production faced some difficulty in figuring out how the events of Le Carte was going to play out. First, after the well loved Girarsi which was almost 5-minutes in length, we were challenged to tell an effective story within less than two minutes with a beginning middle and end. While some members wanted to keep the mafia essence of Girarsi, we decided to go a different route, focussing on the theme of family. Le Carte however, still retained the Italian essence that was exhibited in Girarsi.

Le Carte – a short film, only 1:30 minutes, as opposed to the 5:50 minutes Girarsi, strives to transmit a message that is relevant to today’s society. Le Carte addresses the topic of teenage choices: Friends or family? Cards or Party? Teenagers face these types choices everyday.

This year, while straying away from the church setting, VACA productions newest film Le Carte still has a hidden piece of Catholicism in it. After two Synod of Bishops on the family which resulted in a (controversial) Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Le Carte seems to be a perfect response to the Apostolic Exhortation:

“The tensions created by an overly individualistic culture, caught up with possessions and pleasures, leads to intolerance and hostility in families.” (Amoris Laetitia, 30)

Are people today becoming more and more individualistic? Have we become too self-consumed? Thinking more about ourselves than the needs of others?

Sometimes, I ask myself the those questions. I value family time and sometimes, I fear that I become too busy with extracurricular activities or parish activities that I do not spend enough time with family either physically with mom, dad and sister and/or a Skype call or writing an e-mail to family members overseas – something I have honestly been lacking.

If you have known me for some time, just by reading this commentary so far, you know I love to add the Catholic aspect into the media pieces that I do. While Le Carte was not filmed in a Church, I recommended that since we would take shots from Anthony Bortolin’s grandfather’s home, we should at least get a shot of some popular Italian saint and in this day and age, it is St. Padre Pio of Pietrecina. Padre Pio’s face is seen in most devout Catholic Italian homes… am I wrong to say this?

Going back to the technical side of things, I honestly found it more difficult to create a film in less than two minutes than a five minute short film. You can go on, and on, and on in a five minute film but with a two minute film, you need to keep the message short and concise – something I learned I need to work on.

Looking back, this is the last film I have created for the Communications-Technology course at Chaminade College School and indeed, a journey it was. I remember struggling to understand shot composition, repeating “the full action” in order to get a proper shot for a short Halls commercial. While I still face road bumps here and there while producing films, I believe I have come a long way and one thing for sure: VACA productions is not shutting down after this year’s IGNITE showcase at Yorkdale Cinemas on Wednesday May 29, 2019. I will still be directing films and with my experiences from my co-op at Salt and Light Media (a separate post to come), I hope to continue using digital media as a form of evangelization.

Thank you Mr. Perrotta for your guidance, advice and valuable feedback! Thank you Anthony, Carlos and Domenico for your companionship and hard work in making Le Carte possible!

 

Official Le Carte website: https://lecartemovie.weebly.com/ .

Posted in Business and Technology, School Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vincent Pham’s 5 Notable Moments of 2018

header 2018

It has become a tradition for me to sit down at the end of the previous year and the beginning the new year to reflect on the events of the past year. This year, I chose not to call this post the “Top # Moments or 20XX”, but rather I chose to call it notable moments. The reason for this is because honestly, while there were many top and fun moments this past year, there were down moments, serious moments that I really learned something. The order of moments here do not reflect any precedence, but have been set up in chronological order.

  1. St. Francis Xavier Relic Pilgrimage at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica Jan 12,

    arm

    Arm of St. Francis Xavier Photo: Catholic Christian Outreach Canada

    2018 – I love the act of veneration of relics within the Catholic Church. As Catholics, we do not worship relics nor the saints, but it is through devotion to the saints that we come closer to God through their saintly lives, and therefore come to worship God himself. It has honestly been a number of years since any major relic did a National Pilgrimage, or “tour”. Therefore, when I heard of the relic of St. Francis Xavier making a pilgrimage through Canada, (that was about late 2017), I immediately had a desire to be part of it and have a chance to pray with the arm of St. Francis Xavier. The day came on Jan 12 last year, and I took the subway directly from school down to St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. The lines were not long when I arrived at about 3:45pm. I stepped into line with the pilgrimage prayer card and medal in hand in prayerful mode. Soon enough, it was my couple seconds in front of the arm and I gently placed the prayer card and medal in front of the reliquary, thinking of those whom I have been asked to pray for. After, I went to find a seat, a front seat, on the front right isle of the Cathedral. There, with Cardinal Collins as the presider, we celebrated a beautiful Mass. It was a packed Cathedral. Though snowing and outside, people still wanted to get a moment with the relic. This seemed to be the case all throughout Canada. The pilgrimage really brought Canadian to prayer and hope something like this would happen again.

  2. Eucharistic Adoration Feb. 9, 2018 – I have been to many  Eucharistic Adoration eucharist-2771033_960_720sessions at my parish, Catholic conferences, youth groups… but one that stuck with me this year was this specific one on Feb. 9, hosted by youth from my parish’s Youth and Young Adults ministries. Though I did help organize and collaborate, came to the Church right after school that Friday, I appreciated the fact that there were other people my age who wanted to take part in it through music ministry, reading, altar serving… That shows that the Youth of the Church are still alive. Not only so, that Adoration took place the night before my 17th birthday and there was nothing better than being in front of the Lord in the Church with lights dimmed down, focusing solely on the Eucharist. That is the type of Adoration that I love.
  3. Thầy‘s Calling to the Father April 23, 2018 – A teacher, mentor, “labourer in the

    Thầy Tuấn

    Thầy and I at St. Cecilia’s Church  Photo: Martha Nguyen

    Lord’s vineyard”, and friend of mine, Thầy Peter Tuấn Nguyễn was called “to the house of Father” the morning of April 23, 2018 after a battle with cancer. I will not go on a tangent because I have expressed my thoughts about this great man shortly after the sad day in this post. But I have been affirmed that death is never the end. I will write again about Thầy in a post on the First Memorial Anniversary, but I have noticed a sense of renewal within my parish’s youth. This was very evident in the 100-Day Memorial Mass we hosted at the parish in August, which I will save these reflections for the post this upcoming April.

  4. Involvement with Catholic Media – I have been part of The Catholic Register‘s Youth Speak News (YSN) team for the 2017-2018 term, and once again for this 2018-2019 term and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to write for an audience. Looking back at my 2017-2018 term and my current term, I recognize that yes, there are road bumps that I hit, stories and topics that may be more difficult to write about than others but I have learned that one should not give up and that thoughts will come up throughout the day. I am thankful to the YSN editor, Jean Kodin for her continued guidance, encouragement and here wisdom which has helped a great deal not only with the pieces I do for YSN but those tips are also helpful in academic writing. Thanks to the YSN retreat in May, I was introduced to The Catholic Register’s offices and to Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. That paved the path for me for in September, I enrolled in the cooperative education 2-credit course to fulfill the requirement for my Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program in Information Communications Technology. Back in the summer, thinking about a possible placement, I thought of Salt and Light and thankfully, I got a placement there (I will reflect on my experiences in depth at the end of January, beginning of February when I have completed the co-op course). My experiences in both YSN and at Salt and Light have been positive. Yes, up an downs, mistakes here and there but they are valuable lessons that will help me great deal in the future.
  5. Youth in Policing Initiative Summer 2018 – With an application process that No photo description available.began in January 2018 and an interview in March, I was one of the 152 high-school students selected to be part of this past summer’s Youth in Policing program (YIPI) out of close to 1000 applicants. Honestly, my summer couldn’t have been better. Spending 8-weeks working not only with police officers, but with other members of the community, it gave me an insight of the diversity of the City of Toronto in terms of activities, outreach and culture. I was sent to work with 14 Division where along with 3 other students, I worked the officers at 14 Division. The Division gave me an inside look of the work police officers do. Days at the Division, the YIPI students did much administrative work. Much of the work was geared towards the preparation of the Police Station at the Canadian Nation Exhibition. Besides, the officers there gave us opportunities to work with the community, working with children at Dovercourt Boys and Girls club, MJKO Boxing Summer camp and St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club. I also took part in YIPI group initiatives, taking part in the weekly Rookie League Big Sport Days on Thursdays, sponsored by Jays Care Foundation and Carribana. I learned that the Toronto Police Service is not only present to enforce the law, but also to engage with the community. YIPI was not only a great employment opportunity, but ultimately, it was an opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things and at the same time engage with members of the community.

There you have it, my 5 notable moments of 2018. There were many other moments that I had not mentioned here. However, the moments relayed here were notable learning opportunities that I hope others will have similar experiences.

2019 will be roller-coaster of events, at five days into 2019, it’s already been. I will be hopefully blogging these experience more frequently this year.

Wishing everyone a happy new year, and the Lord watch over us!

Posted in Catholic Reflection, Church, New Year, School Reflection, Uncategorized, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflection: Emmanuel – God is with Us

Emmanuel

“Come, come, Emmanuel! Son of God appear. Heaven and earth, rejoice! Salvation is drawing near.” That is the refrain of Steve Angrisano’s Advent Hymn, Emmanuel.

It seems to me that as the years pass by, the name Emmanuel bears a different and deeper meaning. When I was young, in school, I recall that in class, the teacher taught about how Jesus is known by many names, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Saviour… Then, at English Mass you hear the classic, “O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…” a very common and classic Advent hymn. I recall those years, I only understood was another name referring to Jesus.

Growing up and listening to the Gospel attentively, the answer finally came to me when Matthew 1:23 was read, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.””

If one extracts the definition here in Matthew 1:23, “God is with us,” it is such a beautiful definition that describes Jesus. Jesus, true God wanting to be with us in the form of true man, the mystery of the incarnation – that is what Christmas is all about, God wanting to be with us. But God was not born as a worldly king. Though Jesus came from the line of King David, Jesus was a king born of a woman, with a stable as a palace, with a manger as his throne.

One of the Christmas Gospel options for the Christmas Eve Mass that may not be the most interesting to some, the Genealogy of Jesus (Mt 1:1-6). Is it a long 16 verses just listing names of people of Jesus’ family tree from Abraham to Jesus, many of the names in which you have not even heard of before? Jehoram? Jotham? Hezekiah? These are people of the Old Testament who were all sinners. They have done mistakes. Yet, God chose to be born from such a family line, because God wanted to be one of us, he did not want to be different than any human being, but that of sin.

Understanding the term Emmanuel is important because we hear it so often during the Advent and Christmas season that we say it, we sing it without letting the definition of the term sink into us. Emmanuel within Advent and Christmas hymns is our call out to God, asking God to be among us in this world full of darkness and terror, like the people of the Old Testament. I see that Emmanuel a response to the invocation in Psalm 42, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:1-2)

Within the context of the Liturgy, we are reminded of Emmanuel very often as the presider and the proclaimer of the Gospel says, “The Lord be with you”, and we respond, “And with your spirit”. Do we just respond out of routine? Is the minister himself conscious that every time the exchange, “The Lord be with you – and with your spirit,” takes place that we are asking Emmanuel to be among us, or reminding one another that God is with us in Word and Sacrament?

Looking into our daily lives, how do we make Emmanuel present within our daily lives? How do we let other know that God is with us? Our lives must be reflective of that fact that we have Emmanuel present within our lives. That means, we must let our faith in God be reflective in word and deed everyday, but in a more prominent way, during this Christmas season as we are constantly reminded of the wonderful gift God gave us. Christmas is an opportunity to serve your family, your friends, you parish community and wider community. Let Christmas dinners and gatherings be chance to remind us of Emmanuel, that we are here today because God is with us. Let this be a time to serve the poor at homeless shelters, at food banks, a time to serve the people of the peripheries. Let this be a time so the unfortunate know that Emmanuel – God is with us and that they are not abandoned. I repeat, let this Christmas time be a time so that we may be reflections of the Emmanuel to our brothers and sisters. It is only when people see that God is with us, then will people rejoice because they know that God is present in their lives.

“Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

 

Posted in Catholic Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment