“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I was putting her to sleep when Bless asked, “What gift did you receive from your parents when you were a small boy during Christmas?” “Wala.” I answered. When I was sure she was asleep, I reflected on that answer. I thought I gave a quick short reply for her to go to sleep. As I was watching my Christmas childhood in my mind, it turned out my answer was right.
Our father would knock on our doors for the whole family to get together at the Christmas eve dinner table. Not much of a feast but it was a feast of everybody’s presence. No one will continue to sleep, everybody will stand up and eat. After that we will go to church and at the morning, the kids will roam around to greet and pay respect to relatives who will in turn give us gifts, cash or in kind. I don’t remember our Tatang and our Ima giving us gifts.
What I significantly remember is this, our parents were always there for us. They were always present for us. There was no night my father spent somewhere else but at home. He did not work late, he has his own business. His routine was always work-home-work-home. He was always there. Our mother was always at home or at school for her kids. We go to school and go back home with her at home. She was always available for us. No gift was needed to be given, their presence is their present.
Max Lucado tweeted, “God is with us” is present tense. God is always present so don’t be tense.
This is God’s greatest gift to us. Being with us. He is with us now. Not only yesterday. Not only for tomorrow. Not only with your pastor. Not only with your leader. Not only with the priests or with the nuns. Not only with the missionaries. Not only with the famous author or preacher. He is with us. Us is spelled you and I.
He gives his presence the same he gave it to Moses at the burning bush. He walks with us the way he walk on the water with Peter. He shows himself to us like he showed himself to Paul along the way to Damascus. Sitting with us like he sat with the adulterous Samaritan woman at the water well. Standing with us like he stood and prayed for the food to be multiplied. Touching us in the way he reached out for the lame and the sick.Talking to us like he was talking at the temple when he was a little boy.
God is with us. Emmanuel. Always with us. His presence is the present.