THOMASIANS SHOULD go beyond “pleasantries by force of habit” and fill the lives of others with purpose by witnessing the joy of Christmas “like wildfire,” UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. said.
In his homily during the Agape mass, the rector likened Thomasians to angels and shepherds who had a symbolic significance in spreading the good news of salvation.
“The shepherds also carry the distinction of being the first ones to spread the good news of salvation, witnessing to the joy of Christmas–telling others what they have seen, what they have heard and what they have experienced. And the story, dear friends, spread like wildfire,” Ang said.
“The shepherds found Jesus who became the source of their joy, despite their abject poverty, they were happy, and passive receivers, they were not,” he added.
Such a joy, Ang said, should be voiced and shared by the Thomasian community. Those who embrace Jesus into their heart are then liberated from their “sin, sorrow and emptiness,” the Dominican priest added.
“In our present time, the story of the first Christmas became viral. Not only did it spread, but it also had a positive impact on those who heard. They were amazed, they pondered, and they felt a unique sense of joy,” Ang said.
“Joy does not depend on what we have, does not depend on what’s happening around us or on anything superficial. What is amazing is that one can be joyful in the face of challenges and struggles. Joy endures hardships because it connects with the sense of purpose.”
According to Ang, joy is rooted in faith, hope, and love, a celebration of the University’s virtues encapsulated in “Tria Haec.”
“Genuine joy is based on faith; come what may, God will take care of us. Genuine joy is based on hope; in spite of all hardships, eventually, all will be well. Genuine faith is based on love. Happiness consists of loving and being in love,” he said.
The rector also cited the significance of the Paskuhan celebrations, including the traditional display of fireworks, which he said is more than just “the psychedelic colors” and “the spectacle” on the surface.
“Our Paskuhan festivities are our way of bonding with every Thomasian, young and old. It is also our expression of the communal celebration of the Yuletide season and it feels great to see everybody cheering and clapping in almost all the events,” Ang said.
After the Paskuhan mass, Thomasians lined up at different food stations to celebrate Agape, the early Christmas feast where students, alumni and staff convene on campus for a communal meal.
This year’s Paskuhan theme, “Witnessing the Joy of Christmas,” is an ode to the shepherds’ encounter with Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus lying in the manger. F – with reports from John Martin Revilla and Nolan Adrian Villamor, Jr.