First Gift

December 16, 2017

First reading                                     Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11 

In those days,
like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord's word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Psalm                                                      Psalm 80:2AC and 3B, 15-16, 18-19

 Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Gospel                                                   Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
"Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
He said in reply, "Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands."
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.


Show, Not Tell
By Benj Santiago

We have entered the Year of the Clergy and the Religious in the Philippines. I am sure that you will agree with me that our Church is constantly being challenged by integrity and profanity in all fronts. From Church leaders to parishioners. And this goes true as well in our family, our community, and the country as a whole. But, there is so much hope in our Church and in our country. We have models of integrity.

St. Teresa of Calcutta has shown not just by mere words, but by her actions how she loved and served the poorest of the poor. The work of her hands continue to this day through the congregation she has established.

Pope Francis has also shown by his actions, how to live a simple life, devoid of the pomp and regal which we used to associate with the highest position in our Church. He leads not just by mere words, but through his humility in service.

I see fellow parishioners, priests and nuns who have dedicated their lives to serve with integrity. I am challenged as part of the Church to stay away from things that can defile, and desecrate the very Church that I belong to. I am deeply inspired to stay upright and model the Catholic Christian ways and actions, first to my own family, my friends, and the community I belong. It is a tough challenge. There are many temptations in situations and events in my life. And so, I pray that I may have the firm resolve that I may also “hold to it; keep my Sabbath free from profanation, and my hand from any evil doing” (Isaiah 56:8).

In our Mass readings today, three more models of integrity are given to us: Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus. All three courageously fought against evil. And all three suffered persecution. John and Jesus died in the hands of unjust men. In the eyes of those who opposed them, they were finished. Strangely, up to this day, many mirror their witnessing. Are we one of those?

May this first day of our Dawn Masses in preparation for the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ give us the Spirit to continue moving forward, serving God not by mere lip service but through our action. Action that would bear witness that we too have been sent by the Father in union with Jesus.


Almighty Father, we thank You for showing us the way to salvation not just by Your words, but through Your works. May we, especially the clergy and religious, have the same courage and passion to be bold and daring in doing what is right, and not just talk about it. May we have integrity in all our works, in all our actions that You inspire us to accomplish. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Gift 


Lord Jesus, You willingly and faithfully carried out the works that the Father has entrusted to You. Today, we will be diligent in all that we do, without counting the cost, without expecting any rewards or recognition. Amen. 

(Benj is currently EVC- Marketing Director- International Marketing Group (IMG). He is the Founder and Head Coach/Trainer of the Truly Rich Makers Team. A most sought-after speaker of seminars on How to Get Out of Debts, Increase Cash Flow, and How to Save and Invest Safely and Correctly, he is author of books such as "Risen From Debt", “Debt Destroyers”, "How To Invest Like… Eating Cake".)

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