First Sunday of Advent, Year A
Year of Faith Theme
Advent: Seeking The True Face/Person of Christ
Whenever we watch an animated musical Disney film, other than the beautiful animation we dearly expect, we also look forward to hearing its theme song. And so, when Frozen II came out last week, I was one among those who were eager to listen to it. Would it be a catchy as, "Let it go?" But, as I looked into the lyrics, I found some striking words that somehow depict the theme for this Sunday - the New Liturgical Year. I've highlighted some of those words:
I can hear you but I won't
Some look for trouble while others don't
There's a thousand reasons I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers which I wish would go away, oh oh oh
You're not a voice
You're just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don't
I'm spoken for I fear
Everyone I've ever loved is here within these walls
I'm sorry, secret siren, but I'm blocking out your calls
I've had my adventure, I don't need something new
I'm afraid of what I'm risking if I follow you
Into the unknown … Into the unknown … Into the unknown
People have been seeking God, and seeking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ for centuries. People in all walks of life have been wondering what Jesus looks like and just like the song I quoted earlier, it was like a search for the “unknown!” Historically, his physical appearance or shall I say, “physical face” remains a mystery as it has never been mentioned in Scriptures. The Shroud of Turin, which could have been a living proof of his physical features, remains, even until today, a debatable issue in terms of its authenticity. But I strongly believe that even if Christ was alive today, he would not ask us to focus on the WHAT about Him, but rather, He would ask us to focus on WHO He is. “WHO He is” is what makes Him our Savior … “WHO He is” is what gives meaning to our lives as we find our identity in His very Person. But how can we SEE Him as WHO HE IS? Let me point out some ways:
1. VIGILANCE. Our readings today, though marked with fearful images of destruction and of the end of times, help each one of us to stay awake and be prepared. To be watchful and vigilant rather than being drowsy or lethargic. St. Luke’s Gospel in fact helps us focus on preparation rather than prediction. The apocalyptic themes we hear in our readings reveal God as a mystery but they offer us HOPE. Hope that brings us joy and earnest anticipation of His coming. Hope not only for His 1st but 2nd coming where we will come to see Him face to face. This time not swaddling clothes as that in Bethlehem when He was born, but he will be clothed in white as in a garment. He will come as a glorious King who overcame the cross.
Now, how should we mark our preparation and vigilance? It is to LIVE in the PRESENT REMEMBERING the PAST, BELIEVING and WAITING in JOYFUL HOPE for a glorious FUTURE. The Season of Advent provides us with various means of preparation to come to KNOW Jesus more clearly through reading of Scriptures, meditation and action responses, which we also try to provide for our community of St. Anthony. But always remember to focus our attention to Christ and not to focus on worldly time and worldly means of celebration.
A woman was in the mall doing her Christmas shopping. She was tired of walking through every aisle of every store to find just the right present. She was stressed out by the mounting debt on her credit card. She was tired of fighting the crowds and standing in lines for the registers. Her hands were full and when the elevator door opened, it was full. “Great!” she muttered and the occupants of the elevator, feeling her pain, graciously tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “I think whoever came up with this Christmas junk ought to be found, strung up and shot!” A few others shook their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”
At times, we become too stressed with Christmas shopping that we forget the real meaning of Advent and Christmas preparation. It is not the fulfillment of our Christmas list that matters; it is FROM WHOSE REASON those Christmas lists were MADE in the first place.
Into The Unknown
2. PRAYER AND THE SACRAMENTS. Back in the Philippines when this time of the year comes, my family would be so excited with two major events that have become more like a tradition for all of us: 1. Our family noche Buena (good night) where we eat together as one family and exchange gifts after meals; and 2. The Christmas Party, which we do every year with all our relatives present. What are we excited about those occasions? One of course is FOOD, but more importantly, we are excited because we come to see every member of the family present. It was a time and moment of joyful encounter with one another after months of separation under several circumstances. As I come to remember those wonderful times together after all those years, I come to understand the true meaning of Advent – a joyful anticipation of a wonderful encounter with Christ. Prayer and the Sacraments worthily offered and received during this season bring us together closely to Christ. Our prayer awakens our soul as we listen attentively to Christ while the sacraments bring us together as one family in the one TABLE prepared for us by Christ, who is eager to celebrate the Eucharist with us.
Let us finish the rest of the lyrics of the song:
What do you want? 'Cause you've been keeping me awake
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who's a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I'm not where I'm meant to be?
Every day's a little harder as I feel my power grow
Don't you know there's part of me that longs to go…
What power grows in you as you continue to search for Christ this Advent Season? This season is a good opportunity to seek Him more meaningfully. See a deeper picture of the Advent Season not just a reenactment or commemoration of the past event, but in a more pro-active yearning, see it in the light telling us that the world needs God. Ultimately, we can ONLY come to KNOW WHO HE IS as He speaks to OUR HEARTS. Never cease seeking Him, but ALLOW Him to speak to your heart this Advent Season.
GOD BLESS US ALL!