CHRISTMAS IN NOVEMBER

By: Dcn. Garry Salguero

In the first session of the CLERGY CONFERENCE 2016, the Patriarch shared that Christianity is a Materialistic Religion. Christ our Savior manifested the invisible realm of the Kingdom of God. He made it visible. Jesus used material, visible, physical things to provide and answer the needs, emotional wants and physical requirements of the people. He used bread, money, wine; Jesus sat on a donkey, slept in the boat, ate with the disciples and even cook for them.

 

This Incarnation or Divine manifestation in the flesh is just a glimpse of the whole picture. We can never really understand or grasp the whole concept. How can we fathom with our finite mind the infinite wisdom and nature of God? How can we grasp the idea that the All-powerful, Omniscient God contained Himself inside a weak, emotional, can-experience-hunger, sensitive man? Or how can we understand the idea that the Omnipresent God, the Ever-living God, the Lord eternal, the Alpha and the Omega confined Himself in a man that was born and eventually died.

Although these are just glimpses, these are very much enough for what we need. This incarnation is not only God manifesting in the flesh but confirming that man is the vessel of God’s glory, the Light, the Word, the Son of God. He was born by a virgin birth in a manger though he can take a majestic form like the kings of old or can be emperor in descent, high in rank above the society just like the Israelites expected. Mary struggled to accept the responsibility of bearing the Son of God but obeyed because of the assurance given by God.

This reminded me that just like Mary, we bear the Savior and we bear His light that all people may behold His glory. We are all earthen vessel that holds the power and glory of God. Our social status does not matter, even our position in our church. Each one of us incarnates the word – making divinity visible through humanity - to give hope in this darkened world.

"The Conference as a whole is refreshing. Though the teachings are not new, they are powerful therefore very encouraging like what the Patriarch shared that suffering is part of Christianity that's why we need to die to ourselves. And the essence of discipleship is to make God flesh again through us; this is very challenging."  

Fr. George Ricafort

Parish Church of Transfiguration and Mission Church of Ascension, Batangas City

"Marami po kong natutunan sa nagdaang conference. Pinakahigit po dito ang mas malalim na pagkakakilala kung sino ba si Kristo -- na bago ka magampanan ang iyong ministeryo sa simbahan, ay ang tanong palagi: 'Sino ba si Kristo para sa akin?' Masaya naman po ang aking naging karanasan kasama ng iba pang clergy; at marami akong natutunan sa mga kwento nila."

Dcn. Josaphat Belen

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, San Pablo City

"It was once again a refreshing conference we had last Nov. 14-16, 2016. Refreshing that for such an "atomic moment" we personally and collectively experienced, God's love is ever present for all of us. God bless our bishops and priests and deacons!"

Fr. Ignatius Pierre Paje

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine , San Pablo City:

"I'm so blessed and thankful to God for having this Clergy Conference with the Patriarch, Fr. Jim, Bp. Davidson and all the clergy, strengthening the way I walk in faith, focus my hope, and live in the love of God."

Fr. Hermie Bacsa

Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, San Juan, Batangas:

"The Clergy Conference taught us lessons that are significant to our ministry. But one thing that really enlightened me is how to handle the atomic moments in times of crisis; because once you are in the ministry, you are already in the crises and you must deal with them with faith in God and knowledge of His Word."

Fr. Christian Paul Nacional

Christ our Savior Cathedral, Southern Mindanao

"Attending the Clergy Conference 2016 was a great privilege to have.  As I have expected, I heard from the man of God and learned more about the divine and human aspects of Christ Jesus.  Also, we heard great teachings and testimonies from the others who shared.  To God be the glory!"

Dcn. Francis Sotalbo

Cathedral of the King, Manila

"I thank the Lord for the wonderful and very timely Word that He has imparted to us through the Patriarch and his company.  I have been personally blessed from this retreat; to have received from God what I needed, exactly when I needed it, was edifying and refreshing at the same time.  Truly the Word of God is alive and active.  Praise God!"

Dcn. Elijohn Alcaraz

Cathedral Church of St. Michael, Kalibo, Aklan

"We were blessed, encouraged and confronted by Patriarch Bates' teaching about witnessing and discipleship in practical and simple ways, not only telling about Jesus but living it out, being involved spirit, soul, and body."

Fr. Erel "Nonoy" Villanueva

Cathedral Church of St. Michael, Kalibo, Aklan

The just concluded 3 day - 2 night Clergy Conference we had has transformed me to become the better person that God has called me to be."

Fr. Felicio Gadia

PILILLA MISSION CHURCH, Pilillia Rizal

"The message and timing are very timely for direction on a personal and ministry level.  Refreshing and very encouraging."

Fr. Leo Yanguas

PASIG MISSION CHURCH, Pasig

"I experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Clergy Conference at Tagaytay. I'm so blessed because I was part of the retreat. I learned and realized many things that will help me improve myself as a deacon and also as a person to be an example to other people. I made new friends and met a lot of clergy that came from the various Dioceses around the Philippines. During the retreat, I saw the love of God in everyone. As the Patriarch said 'we cannot see love but we see the fruit of love'."

Dcn. Arnel Nuñez

BAGUIO MISSION CHURCH, Baguio City

"It was a very fulfilling time spent during the last Clergy Conference. I would say that there has been a revival where the spirit is free and everyone is excited to fellowship with each other. It was a very memorable time spent especially with the presence of the Patriarch and company."

Fr. Ben Mandocdoc

CATHEDRAL OF THE KING, Manila

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