Time of Waiting
The Time of Waiting: The Essence of Advent
In a conversation among Filipino relatives, I cannot help but wonder why Filipinos are very fond of using acronyms just about everything (among other crazy stuff of course). C.R. stands for Comfort Room (which for us here is commonly called rest room). GTG means “got to go”. OA means “over acting” as when somebody gets too nosy, and many others. But come to think of it, at times it helps us to remember a lot of things. Aside from the power of association, that is, associating something with an event or another thing, acronyms are also a great help.
This morning I’d like to help you remember this very significant time of the liturgical year … ADVENT. Yearly, we celebrate this time of the year and yet, not too many of us really understand what it means. “Yah, Father we heard that word like a million times. Heard that, what else is new!” Seriously? Well, you may say that, but let me deepen what you’ve learned by looking at the very word itself: A-D-V-E-N-T. What is it all about? Let me use acronym to explain what this celebration is all about:
A – nticipation. Advent comes from the Latin word, “adventus” meaning “coming.” Whose coming? Of course, the Christ's coming. Waiting is a very tedious thing to do. To many of us it is hard to wait. On several occasions, I have challenged myself to experience the most-hyped Black Friday rush. Together with some friends, we went to outlet stores to buy things for our christmas presents. For 50% off plus another 30% once you buy the items at midnight till 6 AM, who wouldn’t grab such deal, right? But most often, those weren't an easy feat and truly challenging. With the items we have with us, we have to queue for roughly 45 minutes! Personally, it dawned on me: was I crazy to wait that long or was everybody crazy for that matter? But with a good motive in mind, that is, to please my folks at home, I think they were worth it. Advent tells us about earnest anticipation. Advent tells us of patiently waiting for Christ’s coming! If it's Christ we're waiting, it surely pays to wait!
D – evotion. Yes, we earnestly wait for Him. But our waiting should always be coupled with devotion. Come to think of it, why did God not give us the exact time of His coming? I am sure if it is announced that Jesus would return tomorrow, our churches will be overflowing with people. Perhaps you would not even go home anymore after this Mass. But no, in his wisdom, he did not give the exact moment because doing so will make us vigilant for the time and not for the person of Jesus Christ. It will make us anticipate the moment and not the person coming at that moment. Our focus will be on our watches and calendars instead of watching out and waiting for God. We are not ruled by fate or time. We are ruled by Christ! He kept the moment a secret, to acknowledge each moment as a GIFT, a moment of opportunity to be truly devoted to Him in faith and in love.
V – ictory over SIN and DEATH. Christ came for the first time to fulfill the promise of salvation that His Father revealed to us in the Old Testament through His incarnation. His coming will remind us of this promise and to give us the fullness of salvation. His victory which then becomes our own victory over sin and death! Yes, judgment is there as is said in our Gospel. But to those who did not just lie in wait, but waited with earnest anticipation and devotion, their vigilance will find its reward.
E – agerness. Eagerness implies dedication. Eagerness rests in the will. Our Christianity to be authentic needs to be directed to Christ and that means surrendering our very lives to Him and Him alone. No if’s, no but’s, only YES! How do I eagerly await for His coming? Doing nothing or with eagerness and preparation? Our present world seems to provide us with a lot of things. Things that could make life easier. In the year 3000, who knows, a robot will do the exercise for you while you sleep! No need to go to the gym and do weight lifting. But, not to God! We need to give our ALL, no easy access, no short cuts. It always requires sincere effort and dedication.
N – othingness. Advent reminds us of our nothingness in front of God. We are creatures of God and not the Creator. I know of persons who have set so many deadlines in life – first year, first car; third year, first million; fourth year, top promotion. We lay down deadlines and in the end we care more for the deadlines than for our beloved. You may eventually have the car, house and lot, millions, and highest position but eventually you have become so detached to your family and friends. You met the deadline but missed the people who love you. These things are passing things, but our love for each one will remain. We will not be judged according to our accomplishments, but to how much have we LOVED our brothers and sisters.
T – ake time to pray. By praying means constant communication with God and recognition of “SIGNS” he has left among us … the Sacraments, His Church, the Scripture and Tradition.
ADVENT! How can we forget? A-nticipation, D-evotion, V-ictory over sin and death, E-agerness, N-othingness, and T-aking time to pray. Out of this acronym, we can define ADVENT as a “time of Anticipation for the coming of Christ with Devotion to Him, who rose Victorious over sin and death. And so, with Eagerness, we recognize before His presence our Nothingness by Taking time to Pray!”
So when you go home today, reflect on these very words. Tell your neighbors, friends and families about this significant time of the liturgical year celebrated for 4 weeks before Christmas and take time to reflect and pray!