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We Are Not That Far from Bethlehem

The Advent season reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, and of our own personal journeys to become more like Jesus Christ, our own Bethlehem.

Advent is here, and so are things that we associate with it: traffic, Christmas lights, rushing at supermarkets, parties, and beggars on streets.  Soon, there will be Simbang Gabi, cold mornings, puto bumbong, and bibingka sold nearby. Christmas comes again.

“Another sign of the season are the Christmas songs,” said Msgr. Albert Venus, our parish priest. In his homily, he shared a beautiful Christian song, not so familiar to us:

“Underneath the stars,
Just a simple man and wife
Somewhere in the dark
His words cut the silent night,
Take my hand for the child  
That you carry is God’s own
And though it seems the road is long
Where not that far from Bethlehem”

It is Joseph’s song to Mary as they travelled to Bethlehem. They had walked long enough, had been in dangerous situations, and had gotten tired and hungry. 

We also travel this long and hard life under the scorching sun, in deserts, and in danger, with sweat and blood flowing down our faces. Our destination seems too far, almost impossible to reach, yet we continue on the road.  Many times we fall and lose hope as the journey becomes difficult and dangerous. Yet we rise again and continue to warm our hearts along the way, with a strong resolve to finish the journey.

We are all travelers with different baggages on our backs;  a single mother worrying about her coming baby,  a relative of a loved one who died on Christmas and wants to be consoled, a wife trying to survive a failed marriage, a mother who seeks justice for a son killed by a bullet in a drug war, a poor boy struggling daily to live and earn his diploma, a family man making both ends meet for his family, a priest who wants his flock to remain faithful to the Gospel, old sick parents who wait for their children’s visit, seminarians who want to be priests, world leaders who dream of peace, and many others.

For the faithful, the purpose of our life’s journey is also called Bethlehem — a place of peace and joy, where our dreams come true with only light to shine on our hearts.

God with His kindness assures us that Bethlehem is not that far. We can feel His presence in our hearts and His spirit in our being. As we become weary, He comforts and embraces us. We are unaware that He is already that Bethlehem in our midst, with His parents Joseph and Mary travelling with us. 

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