Truly Emmanuel! - Christmas Message of Fr. Herman G. Abcede, RCJ (Provincial)
“A friend in need is a friend indeed”, says Benjamin Franklin. Roughly, we, Filipinos, would say, “Angtunay na kaibigan, sa gipit nasusubukan.” And this is really so. People who are always smiling at us, praising us, eating with us, are not necessarily our friends. They may be acquaintances or companions;
but not necessarily friends. For real friends would stick with us through thick and thin. They would be with us in good times and in bad. Indeed, difficult situations we find ourselves in would, ironically, validate the authenticity of our friendships. It is precisely when we are in our rock-bottom situations; it is precisely when we are vulnerable and alone; it is precisely when we are in the “no-exit” points of our life, as Jean Paul Sartre would say, that we will see who are friends really are. For trying moments bring out, not only the best, but also the worst in us. And as these situations disclose who we really are, these also highlight our true colours. Only genuine friends can take us for who we really are; with wart and all.
This Christmas, the whole world celebrates this friendship God offers to humanity-- a friendship extended to us at a time when we are in a deadlock situation because of sin. “And as he ‘pitched his tent and made his dwelling among us’, he embraced the exigencies of human existence in toto. He experienced the pain of hunger, the difficulty of work, the hurt of rejection, the sadness of losing a loved-one, the agony of experiencing temptation, the scourge of betrayal and abandonment by close-friends, the torment of being wrongly-accused, and the humiliation of dying a criminal’s death” (The Great and Warm Embrace: An Easter Greeting, Fr. Herman Abcede). Wrapped only in swaddling clothes, he was given to us as food, as bread from heaven, in the manger of Bethlehem. “Clothed only with wounds, he freely embraced the symbol of our defeat--the cross--so that, with this great and warm embrace of humanity, we may be reconciled with the Father” (The Great and Warm Embrace: An Easter Greeting). The Word-made-flesh is true to his name: Emmanuel--God with us.