TODAY marks the start of our SIMBANG GABI or MISA DE GALLO (the Spanish phrase is used to refer to
midnight masses, more literally translated as “Rooster’s Mass”) in this season of Advent it symbolizes
our 9-Day (novena) preparation for Christmas. Waking up early in the morning for nine straight days
denotes our keenness in the birth of Christ manifested through this act of vigilance and prayer.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means God is with us” (Matthew 1: 23). Indeed, the life and ministry of Christ was an
embodiment of the name bestowed upon him. Jesus becoming man was primarily God’s work. While he was
truly human through his birth from Mary, he was truly the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. And,
that through him, God’s love and presence shall be felt for all ages.
What’s in the name? Our identity and sense of dignity is what’s in our names! We are known,
recognized and acknowledged by our family, friends and peers by the names we possess. And, it is
often said that the etymology of our names is a clear manifestation of our character. Our parents
would even select a second name derived from a popular saint or angel that would serve as our guides
We value our “family’s name” and would never allow anyone to tarnish its good reputation for
somehow it represents a long-standing tradition and sense of worth. But if we value our names so
much, why can’t we value the same name given to us at baptism? Remember … the name called
“Christians”? We are indeed Christians by name but are we as such in our words and deeds?
If we are true Christians, we are also “Emmanuel”; God is with us, for we have become God’s
loving presence amidst people. In his book, “Life’s Work”, Francis Kong shares this beautiful story
of authentic Christianity: A small-orphaned boy lived with his grandmother. One night, their house
caught fire. While trying to rescue the little boy who was sleeping upstairs, the grandmother died in
the smoke and flames. A crowd gathered around the burning house, where the boy’s cries for help could
be heard above the blaze. No one knew what to do.
Suddenly, a man rushed from the crowd and circled to the back where he spotted an iron pipe
that reached an upstairs window. He disappeared for a minute, and then reappeared with the boy in his
arms. Amid the cheers of the crowd, he climbed down the hot pipe as the boy held on to his neck. Weeks
after, a public hearing was held in the town hall to determine in whose custody the boy would be
places. Since no relative was left to take care of the boy, city legislation requires that the boy be
given up for adoption only to highly qualified persons. Each person interested in adopting the boy was
allowed to speak briefly.
One man said, “I have a big farm. Everybody needs the out-of-doors.” Another boasted of his
work: “I’m a teacher. I have a large library. He would get a good education.” The richest man in the
community spoke last and topped it all with, “I could give the boy everything mentioned tonight. The
farm, education and more, including money and travel. I’d like him in my home.” When the chairman
asked if anyone else wanted to say anything before he closed the session, a stranger rose from the
back. As he walked toward the front, deep suffering showed on his face. Once in front, he stood
directly in front of the little boy. Slowly, the stranger removed his hands from his pockets. The
crowed gasped and when he looked up, so did the little boy.
The man’s hands were terribly scarred. Suddenly, the boy gave out a cry of recognition -- this
was the man who saved his life. His hands were scarred from climbing up and down the hot pipe. The boy
leaped up, threw himself around the stranger, and held on for life. The farmer rose and left. So did
the teacher. Then the rich man. The stranger had won the boy without a word. His hands spoke more
effectively than any words could have.
Our day-to-day lives should be an awakening to the true nature of our names as Christians.
Will our acts of faith (e.g. the masses we attend; the Christian celebrations we indulge in, the
prayers we do, etc.) prompt an active response in us? Will it bring us closer to God, to the members
of our family, to our neighbors, to the people with whom we meet each day? And, will they feel
through us, an awakened conscience, and Jesus’ message of peace, humility and forgiveness?
Announcement: If you are unable to physically attend our traditional Simbang Gabi masses due
to certain limitations in your schedule or due to your present health condition, you may opt to listen
to an on-air broadcast of this 9-Day Misa De Gallo aired over DZRV Radio Veritas (846 am) every 9 p.m.
(from December 15-23) and 5 a.m. (from December 16-24); a simultaneous Facebook Live video feed will
likewise complement this radio broadcast.
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For any personal comments or suggestions, you may call 0917-4805585 or email me at