To the UA&P faculty, administration, students, alumni, benefactors, and friends:
Human partnerships, whether between individuals or institutions, naturally seek for the mutual benefit coming from the relationship. It is normal to ask “What is in it for me?” before starting any form of connection. Entrepreneurs who think of collaborating with other executives ask what each partner can put on the table. Recipient and donor institutions do the same. Future spouses likewise think of the mutual benefits their marriage will bring to them and to their children.
As I pass through the ALB corridor every day, however, and see the 18 Belens on display, I realize that the mutual benefit expected from the relationship made between the Baby in the manger and His people was, is, and will not be exactly “mutual.”
For one, the Baby Jesus, it seemed, used all His powers as God to place Himself last, so as to be the first to serve. In each Belen, you can almost feel His gaze upon you asking “What can I do for you?” Clearly, in the end, the relationship is not mutually beneficial but exclusively for the benefit of just one party: us. Those who have come before us, those now present, and those that will come in the future. The Baby Jesus came not to demand from us what we can bring into this relationship that would benefit Him, but to save us, to give us hope, and to assure us that we are loved unconditionally.
I commend those who worked on the Belens. The Nativity scenes provide a soothing respite from the malls, streets, plazas, and buildings resplendent with holiday decors but totally devoid of the spirit of that first and holy night when the Savior was born.
I wish the hope, peace, and joy that comes from this spirit of self-giving in Christmas be with you and your family today and the days to come. Merry Christmas!
Dr. Winston Conrad B. Padojinog