Online Newsletter Nr. 158
Philippine Community

The tabernacle and manger at the alter symbolize "Christmas in every Mass."

    And this is what really happens in every church that we celebrate the Holy Mass. We call this mystery the Holy Eucharist.
       So right there in Bethlehem, at Jesus’ birth two great Mysteries were contained – Christ’s Incarnation and the Eucharist.
       The Belen beside the altar is just a decoration and a memory of what happened 2000 years ago. The manger at the Belen where Jesus was laid is just a symbol of what is really happening at the altar. During the Mass, the altar becomes the real Bethlehem – the house of the Bread – where Jesus becomes the Bread of Life. During the consecration of the host, that altar becomes the real Bethlehem – the house of Meat – where Jesus the Word made flesh fulfilled his Word at the Last Supper, “Take this and eat, for this is my Body.” And the Tabernacle which contains and keeps the Jesus the Food of our souls 24 hours a day is now the real manger.
       In other words, this church where we celebrate the Holy Mass becomes Bethlehem now. Two years ago, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are in Bethlehem.” Jesus, who came unknown to the world, born in Bethlehem, would remain in the world, hidden under the species of bread and wine to nourish us.
       And that is not all: When we come to receive the Body of Jesus in HOLY COMMUNION, Jesus enters into our bodies. Our bodies therefore become the resting place of the Body of Jesus, the Bread of Life. He has fulfilled what he promised. “He who eats my Body and drinks my Blood, abides in me, and I in Him.” Jesus becomes born in us. Our bodies has become the Bethlehem of Jesus too. We have become living tabernacles too. Everywhere we go, we carry Jesus. It is truly Emmanuel – God is with us. God is with you now.

    Christmas in Every Mass:
       We need not travel in a Pilgrimage to Holy Land and see Nazareth where the Annunciation happened or to see and kiss the very spot in Bethlehem where Jesus was actually born 2000 years ago. All we need is to go to church, and attend Holy Mass so that Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and all these holy places where Jesus was, would become really present and alive to us.
       It’s all in every celebration of the HOLY MASS, what we call the Holy Eucharist. In every Mass that we all celebrate together, all the greatest Mysteries of our Christian Faith are all present and alive right in our midst. That’s why the Holy Mass or the Holy Eucharist is the highest form of worship as Christians. It is our highest prayer, that not any amount of devotional prayers, novenas and prayer meetings could ever replace it.
       Because of these deep Mysteries happening in every Mass, all time stops, because what Jesus did to save us 2,000 years ago is right now happening in our midst, and our Lord Jesus and Savior Jesus Christ himself is really present. LET ALL TIME SIMPLY STOP, because eternity is now right in our midst! God who is Heaven is with us, and we are with God in Heaven.
       That is why we do not allow anything else to disturb us, or steal our attention from the Mass. All focus is directed to God who is now present and speaking to us. No Handy should disrupt us. No side remarks with your neighbor should distract us. Remember the Eucharistic fast – one hour no taking of solid food before Mass? It makes sense now, because Jesus is about to enter your Body as food. He is the Bread of Life.
       In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God. And the Word (Jesus) became flesh, and lived with us. Every time we gather at the Holy Mass, we are in Bethlehem and it is always Christmas.