First Sunday of Advent (A)
We were building a small church in a depressed village. On one occasion I invited a friend to visit us, so that she could help us particularly for the roofing of the church. Her family would have to travel for three hours to reach our parish, then return back home. We prepared a good meal for them. I specifically prepared the bill of materials and cost of labor for the roofing. It was Holy Thursday. I prayed for them and asked the Lord to open their hearts for the project, if He wanted the Church to be done and used very soon. When they arrived, it was a happy meeting, and we had a happy meal. Then my friend asked: How much would it take to do the roof of the Church? I mentioned the amount. My friend explained that that she could not give the whole amount, and could give only so much for the project (she mentioned about one-fifth only of the amount that I told her. She gave me three bundles of cash, and I happily thanked her for it. I did not bother to count it. They went home, and I continued to prepare for the Easter vigil. Early next morning, I was awakened by a text message from my friend, asking me how much the money was. That was Good Friday. I responded immediately that I have not counted it, and would count it then. To my surprise the money was just the amount that I mentioned to her. Terrific! Just the amount I needed! I called her, told her the amount, and asked her if she wanted me to return it or deposit it in her account. She told me it was her son’s money. After talking for a few minutes, she said, well, I will just talk to my son and pay him back. Use that money for your Church. That’s the amount you need anyway. I almost hit the roof for joy. I thanked her very deeply. At the blessing of the church she certainly had to be present.
I show this incident as an instance of waiting, anticipation and hope in the action of the Lord. We are now in a new liturgical season of the Church: Advent. For many, advent is a preparation for Christmas parties and planning what gifts to get for people they care for. For others, advent is just another season of the ecclesiastical year. The season of Advent will be meaningful though with some ingredients of consciousness that we are not the masters of our life and our time. The following can be our guide:
1. Prepare. There is no better way to win a battle that to prepare the troops. There is no better way to drive evil away than to grow in the love of virtues and to be rooted in the Lord. For this, Holy Scripture urges us: “My son, forget not my teaching, keep in mind my commands; for many days, and years of life, and peace, will they bring you. Let not kindness and fidelity leave you; bind them around your neck; Then will you win favor and good esteem before God and man (Prov 3:1-4).
2. Present your plans to the Lord. Pray, and act according to the call of your heart and the common good. Ovid said: What is without rest will not endure. For a Christian, what is without prayer will be weak and will not last. So, the Book of Proverbs tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths (Prov 3:5-6). So, do your duty well and ask the Lord to bless your endeavors.
3. Leave the rest to the Lord. He is the Master, and He knows best. There is always sense in waiting, but waiting actively in the Lord. So we allow Him to work in us. In whatever we do, to rush can be dangerous, and at times, fatal. Again Scriptures tell us: Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil; This will mean health for your flesh and vigor for your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; Then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow” (Prov 3:7-10).
Advent is more than an expectation. It is a celebration of the presence of the Lord in our lives and in our relationships. It gives hope to others and gives meaning to our apostolate or ministry for the good of others. This hope is the reason for all corporal and spiritual works of mercy that we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, for whatever good we do for them we do for the Lord (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Any good thing that we perform brings hope to the hopeless, joy to the depressed and gratitude to the hearts of many. It is precisely our hope in Christ and our cooperation to the movement of the Holy Spirit that give meaning to our waiting for the coming of the Lord.
There is no better way to receive the Lord in the Eucharist than to prepare ourselves in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to offer our celebration not only to satisfy our obligation to go to Church, but to fulfill God’s desire to bring all men and women to Himself, and to bear fruits of joy, hope and love in our acts of service, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come (Mt 24:44). Then Advent will not only be an anticipation of the coming of the Lord in the future, but a proclamation and a celebration that the Lord has indeed come and is present, so we walk in the light of the Lord (Is 2:5).