Bida, Contravida or Be the Change
05 December 2021, 2nd Sunday of Advent (C)
Lk 3: 1-6
Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The liturgy, through the readings, invites us to heighten our preparation for the Lord’s coming into our lives. How? We are called to change. Notice that we have so many areas in our lives that need change. We express our disappointment when we notice the on-going existence of twisted systems and evil structures that are just tolerated. Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na! We are now in the election season. Many of us will use our right of suffrage to change those people in power with those whom we think can better serve the common good. The usual remedy to our corrupt system is the changing “of” people. But can change “of” people effect real change?
The Gospel according to Luke gives us a historical context. It mentions some powerful and prominent people such as Tiberius as the emperor, Pontius Pilate as the governor Judea, the brothers Herod and Philip as titular rulers of Palestine and the high priests were Annas and Caiaphas. Did they effect real change? At the end of the proclamation of the Gospel, I said, “The Gospel of the Lord”, and the Gospel, as the Word of God, informs, expresses and summons, where is God’s action that effects real change?
Luke brings us to John the Baptist. Who is he as compared to those personages who are powerful and prominent? John the Baptist is insignificant, too ordinary and even weird. But it was to John, living in the desert, that, as Luke tells us, that the Word of God came. The Gospel tells us that God’s coming begins not in the center of power but in the remoteness of the desert and among the insignificant ones of society. As Sr Dianzon describes, “While the powerful personages at the beginning of this Gospel are preoccupied with their own agenda of greatness, God works His own strategy of littleness and insignificance to bring to fulfillment His grand design for the world.” This complete reversal brings about renewal. Real change happens not by changing “of” people, but change “in” people, that refers to you and to me. In other words, the 2nd Sunday of Advent calls us, not to be “bida” and “contravida” but to be the change. How can we be the change that God desires us to be?
C. Go to the core. Real change starts in our hearts. In the 2nd Reading, St Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, has in his heart a longing that is expressed by way of prayer when he said, “that your love may increase ever more and more… to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…” This love is already poured into our hearts because God has first loved us in Jesus. Love is not a pure emotion. Love is a conviction that leads us to a commitment. If we love, we affirm that we are God’s masterpiece! In other words, we become what we love.
H. Let us be humble. C. S. Lewis said that humility is not thinking less of ourselves but it is thinking yourself less. Prophet Baruch, in the 1st Reading, proclaims that the mountains of arrogance and the hills of pride are obstacles for God to come into our lives. Notice that proud people are prone to developing compulsive behavior. Why? They want change but they are not willing to be the change. Out of frustration, they become disappointed. Let us not look at others of this is happening. Let us look at our own selves. Real human beings are open for dialogue, for suggestions and for improvement. In other words, humility leads to on-going conversion.
A. Develop the attitude of gratitude. In the Responsorial Psalm, we acclaimed, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” A grateful person emits joy. This sense of gratitude comes from being aware of God who is at work because He loves, He cares, He sustains and He provides. How are going to respond to God’s graciousness? Our thanksgiving is thanks-living that is, we strive to live the values of justice, righteousness and peace.
N. Live in the “now”. Advent prepares us for the comings. From 1st Sunday of Advent until 16 December, we are preparing for the 2nd Coming of Christ. From 17 December until 24 December, we are preparing for the commemoration of Christ’s 1st Coming (Christmas). Between the 1st coming and the 2nd coming is the present moment where we are in. The “now” is God’s gift where we encounter being “new”. For Don Bosco, our works of charity are to be coupled with the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, in order that our efforts for renewal is not something elusive but in the “here and now”.
G. Do good works. Many of us think that we can do good works because we are the author of goodness. Oops! That is spiritual arrogance. Why are we committed to do good? Our motivation to be good and to do good is this: God is good. God’s goodness is His saving power in us. In the 2nd Reading, St Paul has confidence in God’s goodness as saving power by saying, “I am confident that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Let us not be frustrated if we realize that we are a work in progress. God, because He is all good, can never fail us.
E. Encounter God in everyone and in everything. Take note how God chose the less and the insignificant like John the Baptist as the one who would prepare Jesus’ coming. Many were annoyed by John the Baptist’s message of repentance, his weird lifestyle and his being too direct in pointing out the errors of his time. But God worked that way. Notice that sometimes we are annoyed by others. In Psychology, this is projection. But this projection moves us to another process called introspection. Thus, encounter God in everyone and in everything leads us to a meaningful Consciousness Examen.
C.H.AN.G.E. Go to the CORE. Let us be HUMBLE. Develop the ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Let us live in the NOW. Persevere in doing GOOD WORKS. And let us ENCOUNTER God in all. Where can real change happen? Can it happen by the changing “of” people? Or is it more attainable by letting change happen “in” you and in me? Like John the Baptist, let us not be the “bida” or the “contravida”. Let us be the C.H.A.N.G.E. Amen!
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