With the conclusion of the church’s liturgical calendar year, last weekend, Advent season has commenced a New Year. I welcome you to a year of 100% newness and freshness – a year beaming with amazing Hopes and Opportunities. Recall that the language and imagery of the “end of time,” depicted awaiting horror of uncertainty. The season of Advent interrupts that awful portraiture, with its consoling package of Hope. It is a proof that God never deserts us, especially in our hopelessness. The color of Advent is purple, which speaks the language of Hope and Promises. Etymologically, Advent is derived from two Latin words: Ad [toward] & Venio [coming] meaning, God is “coming toward” us. God searches us out, while we are stuck in our miserable impasse. Advent is that period of unmerited excitement and hopefulness, heralding the nearness of our salvation.
Uniquely, God is not just consoling humanity in her misery and vulnerability, God has also planned to be with His people. It is the divine plan to identify with the gravest burden of humanity, in order to eradicate it. The burden of sin is the gravest obstacle because it practically cuts us off from the loving purpose of God.
The redemptive journey of God to be with us, which started on March 25th (Feast of Annunciation), is nearing its fulfillment. The 4 Sundays of Advent represent the final days of ceaseless yearning for God’s coming. It is fitting that God chose the lowly nature of humanity, not only to save it, but also to prove that our nature is no obstacle to live eternally in heaven. The coming of the incarnated God is to illumine and dignify our infected nature, especially our bodies. Therefore, Advent transforms our hopelessness into hopefulness.
God bless you, Fr. Levi
With hopeful expectation, God’s promise for us is about to happen. What are the signs? For this second week, God through prophet Baruch has asked Jerusalem to take off her robe of mourning and misery, and replace it with the splendor of God’s Glory (1st Reading Baruch 5: 1-9).
We are the new Jerusalem. We are the abode of peace. Our hearts as well as city should be peaceful. But how ready are our hearts and our city for the fulfillment of God’s promise?
God still did not leave us clueless. God has given us a detailed instruction through prophet John the Baptist. In today’s gospel (Luke 3: 1-6), a voice in the desert resounds: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
Advent Week II reminds us of the essence of preparation in anticipation of the Best for us – our salvation. Like those expecting an August guest, our required preparation follows an inside-out structure. It is from our hearts to our environment, not the converse. The housekeeping involved should be thorough; no half measures. It is either spotlessly clean or not good enough. The simple reason is, the baby-Christ deserves much more than an August visitor. He comes to be with us, and to save us, and as such merits our relative Best. The divine call for preparation shuns competitive rivalry because your Best is not my Best. If we must compete, only compete with yourself, and strive toward your Best. Let’s work toward giving the baby-Christ our Best distinct selves as birthday gifts, because His coming fulfills the Best promise for us.
God bless you, Fr. Levi