Governor Edgar Chatto:
My dear fellow Boholanos, the Christmas Season of 2017 finds many of us both worried and relieved. Worried, because the threat of Typhoon Vinta brought back memories of disasters past and their impact on our households, communities and infrastructure, and at the very least, forced us to cancel or postpone plans that we had made. Relieved, because the worst of what we feared did not come to pass – at least, in the case of Bohol. But our hearts bleed for our fellow Filipinos, especially in Mindanao, who have lost their homes and even their lives.
Nevertheless, we have faced bigger threats before, and there is no denying the fact that Christmas is a time to commemorate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to gather with our families, and to strengthen our communal bonds and Boholano values. Thus, even as we prepare for any eventuality (this is, as we know, part of the “new normal”), we always remember to thank the Lord for our many blessings this year – not the least of which are the gift of life, of family, of community and of a peaceful Bohol.
Regardless of the way in which we celebrate Christmas – quiet and decorous, or festive and bustling – this is the ONE time of the year during which we take stock of how we have lived the previous months, what we have accomplished (for ourselves and for the Glory of God), and how we intend to improve in the coming year. Being deeply spiritual and family-oriented, the Boholano spirit always put family life at the center of our priorities. Thus, it is with warmth and love that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Tagbilaran Mayor John Geesnell Yap:
Christmas has always brought that warmth in our hearts sense of joy mixed with excitement feelings which pulls us back to precious childhood memories. This Yuletide Season, may I encourage you to reminisce those special moments and recapture our childlike faith, energy and optimism for 2017.
A Blessed Christmas and a Bountiful New Year for all!
Talibon Bishop Daniel Parcon:
It could be remembered, that CBCP has declared 2017 as the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities. The CBCP pastoral exhortation “On Era of New Evangelization” describes the focus of this year: “This is a year when we more deeply discern not only the structures of governance of our dioceses and parishes but also of the quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, belongingness, and participation by its members. “In a special way we shall probe into our efforts of making the parish a communion of communities, a communion of Basic Ecclesial Communities and of covenanted faith-communities and ecclesial movements. We shall discern and implement measures on how communities of consecrated life may be more integrated into the life and mission of the parish. In brief, our focus will be the building of a parish that is truly a faith community immersed in the lives of its people.”
The theme of 2017 is in line with the PCP II vision of a renewed Church which is also based on the Vatican II vision of the Church: The Church as Community of Disciples that live in communion and that participate in the mission of the Church as a priestly, prophetic and kingly people and as the Church of the Poor. For PCP II, this vision of the Church finds expression in the Basic Ecclesial Communities.
My dear people of God, this call for participation with the same challenge that is offered to each one of us this Christmas. May we become concrete faces of mercy to others and of our Mother Earth at large.
As Pope Francis has once challenged the faithful to contemplate on the richness and depth of the mystery of mercy, that “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy”. Mercy has become incarnate through the person of Jesus. His “ministry, words, actions and his entire person reveal the mercy of God” (Misericordiae Vultus, no. 1).
Let us remember that Christmas is a wonderful time for restoring peace in our family and society by renewing our commitment and preparing our pure hearts for the Lord, the King of Peace. Let us constantly commune with the triune God and with each other.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Bishop Alberto Uy:
“And the word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Christmas means that the Word of God was made flesh! How was Jesus conceived in the womb of the Blessed Mother? There was no noise. How was Jesus born in Bethlehem? There was silence. The drama of Christ’s birth was undertaken in prayerful and contemplative silence! He was wrapped only in swaddling clothes and was lying simply devoid of any fanfare or trimmings.
Therefore, Christmas celebration is an opportunity for us, sisters and brothers in Christ, to transcend and go beyond the secular aspects and dimensions of the celebration. If our Christmas celebration focus merely and is always associated with singing, partying, merry-making, and other forms of wordly enjoyments, then it would be very difficult for us to appreciate the mystery of the incarnation.
The spirit of Christmas is not just enjoying good food served during the noche Buena, family reunions and office parties with the company of our friends and loved-ones. We must also spend time in silence and contemplate the great mystery which happened centuries ago. We should allow the Word-made-flesh to take real flesh in ourselves, and let us not be satisfied with the worldly allurements that were never meant to be part and parcel of the Christmas celebration. We should not forget the simplicity of the little Child who came to us during that very “Silent” and “Holy Night.”
As we welcome Jesus in our hearts and in our world, we should not lose the element of an encounter. This encounter of a loving and merciful God in the very person of Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, results in a life that is full of gratitude. Do not forget to express your gratitude to God who abided with you through the years, in season and out of season, through thick and thin, in all the days of your life.
May our Christmas celebration be an expression of thanksgiving to God for his undying love and mercy to His people.
With my paternal blessings!