My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“For a child is born to us, a son is given us.” (Isaiah 9:6 – First Reading, Mass During the Night, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord)
We have lost count of the repeated recitations of the “Oratio Imperata” by our many Christian Communities all over the country. We have been crying out to God, begging His mercy on us who are laid low by the Covid-19 virus.
Tonight, Isaiah announces: “For a child is born to us, a son is given us.” That child is God made man, and He has come in answer to our prayers. Where an invisible enemy has threatened to rob us of our health, our life, our peace of mind, that Child, who is the Prince of Peace, has come so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.
It is true that there are now several vaccines availableagainst COVID-19. Not courtesy of Isaiah the prophet, but of the Pharmaceuticals Pfizer and Moderna. God willing, our government can soon obtain these vaccines and make them available to our people.
Once accepted by most, if not by all, these vaccines can reduce the numbers headed for the ICUs and hospitals. People can return to work, earn a living, and go back to school. And the day may not be far off when we will no longer need to wear masks, do social distancing, or be obsessed with disinfectants.
As grateful as we are to the men and women of science who produced the wonderful vaccines, we cannot help but recognize their limits. They are good for COVID-19 only. They cannot be effective against the next virus which, many experts say, will surely appear and unleash the next pandemic.
No vaccine can be a panacea for all the misguided ways by which we humans live. We bring about our own plagues and pandemics. We abuse nature. We wage wars. We tolerate, if not exacerbate, poverty and inequality. We know we can do better, yet we persist in our lack of humanity.
Today a child is born for us; a Son is given to us.
He lies in a manger. Like the shepherds and wise men from the East, we approach Him on bended knees. For He is God’s greatest gift to us. He is born for us, for our benefit, and for no other reason. He is here to save us from ourselves, from our pettiness, and from our hardness of hearts. And if we only let Him, He will teach us how to live life fully, with or without a pandemic. He is our Savior and our God.
May the Holy Infant Jesus fill your Christmas with His PEACE and with His JOY, as He alone can!
+ Romulo G. Valles, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao