A five-year old boy walks into his parents’ room to kiss them good night. His dad has just finished reading his bible. He asked: “Dad, what are you reading?” His dad replied: “Son, I’m reading the book of Revelation, the last book of the bible.” “And what’s it about” came another curious question. Dad looks at him and explains: “It’s about God’s final battle against evil!” Excitedly, the boy sat beside his dad and inquired: “And who won?” The father stooped down to his boy’s eye level and informed him: “God won!”
We are entering a new season and a new year in the Church: the Season of Advent! We begin a new countdown of Jesus’ historical birth – his first visit on Christmas. But we know the story; we know the outcome – God won. We are saved! We’re simply awaiting the final results.
While waiting, we need these three Christian dispositions:
1. We wait patiently
Many times, waiting becomes tiresome. There are really times waiting becomes necessary: one waits for traffic to subside; in the airport, you wait for a sister to arrive with a delayed flight; parents wait for their children to grow up; a mother waits for a son to give up his addiction. During the wait, we run out of patience. We even get angry and loose our peace to the point of exasperation and frustration.
In the First Reading (Is 63), the prophet expressed the community lament of the exiled Jews in Babylon. They voice out their regret for being hard headed, for failing to listen to God and wandered away. Yet they are still hopeful because God is their father. They implore God to re-work them and make them new as a potter makes the clay beautiful in his hands.
2. We wait lovingly
We wait actively by doing good continually. Its not a lazy waiting. Early Christians really thought that Jesus will immediately return during their lifetime. For this reason, some have abandoned their land and their business in order to lazily wait for the Parousia. St. Paul had to write the Thessalonians to counter this slothful attitude by warning them and giving the rule: “those who would not work should not eat.”
While we await the return of the Lord, we continue to work and do our duties. We continue our task of witnessing and striving to make this world a better place. Parents ought to continue their mission of guiding and caring for their children. Leaders dedicate their time in service and selflessness.
When the body of Archbishop Teofilo Camomot was exhumed from his grave in Carcar, Cebu eyewitnesses claimed that his remains decayed except two parts of his body: his hands and his heart. After many decades, he has became a pile of dust. But amazingly his hands and his heart did not rot long after he was buried. It is God’s way of telling us that in the end, what matters most is our love. What matters most is not our competence but our character.
3. We wait faithfully
Advent challenges us to be faithful. We need to be watchful for the arrival of the master of the house who is in a journey. As servants, we need to do the task entrusted to us. We should be like the gatekeeper continually alert lest the master finds us sleeping.
Through prayer, we remind ourselves of our purpose and God’s plan for us in this world. We live responsible and dedicated lives lest we get distracted by the temptations and pleasures of this passing world. We focus our minds that things are fleeting lest we be overtaken by a consumerist and profit-driven mindset.
As we begin the season of Advent, our readings remind us of the good news that God has won the battle for us. We simply need to wait patiently, lovingly and faithfully. This is how we can be watchful.