Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

We are “Antay Christ”

28 November 2021, 1st Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Lk 21: 25-28, 34-36

For us Catholics, Advent marks the start of the new liturgical year.  And so, we greet one another “Happy New Year”!  In addition, Advent tells us that as Christians, we are “antay Christ”!  Antay is a Filipino word which means “to wait”.  If we are “antay Christ”, we are waiting for Christ who will come.

We usually understand waiting as a passive act.  We think that the period of waiting is an idle moment.  Because nothing happens when we wait for someone/something, we think that waiting is counter-productive.  But Advent is not just “our” act of waiting.  It points to the reality of “the Other” who is coming.  Ah Yes!  We are waiting by preparing ourselves for Christmas.  50% correct.  Where is the other 50%?  Advent prepares us for the 2nd coming of our Lord.  Beginning today until 17 December, our minds and hearts are fixed towards Christ’s 2nd coming. From 18 December until 24 December, we make our immediate preparations as we are to commemorate Christ’s first coming, Christmas.  Thus, Advent is not all about us but it’s about the two comings of Christ.

Two thousand years ago, Christ was born, lived, did His mission, was crucified and was risen.  That is a historical fact.  But when will He come again to judge the living and the dead?  We do not know.  Our readings of today never proclaim the exact time when the 2nd coming of Christ will come.  What do the readings proclaim?  They invite us to be patient, to be persevering and to relish God’s gift of peace.

First, the Lord invites us to be patient.  In the 1st Reading, prophet Jeremiah proclaims how God is eager to come, not to bring punishment, but to fulfill His promise of salvation by restoring justice and righteousness.  God will fulfill this promise by sending His People a Redeemer (righteous branch from David).  For us Christians, this prophesy was fulfilled in Jeremiah.  Jeremiah prophesied God’s promise 600 years before the 1st coming of Christ.  600 years is very long! 

But God’s ways are not ours.  God will fulfill His promise not according to our own terms but according to His.  With this long period of waiting, God calls us to be patient.  Patience makes us humble because we entrust our will and our ways to God.  Patience strengthens our weak hearts because we hope in the God who gives what is the best for us.  Patience brings out the real character in each one of us because instead of complaining and blaming, we learn how to let God be God as we let go of our ego.

Second, the Lord invites us to be persevering.  In the Gospel, the Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant because prior to His coming, cosmos shall experience chaos.  Why does God allow evil and even suffering to be experienced by us?  Reflecting on this, I am reminded of a recent event that just happened to me and to my family.  My mother died last 11 November 2021.  As I am grieving, I cannot deny the reality of being shaken as we enter through a dark moment of our life as a family.  I am struggling to find God.  All that I read and learned, even what I am teaching and preaching, are challenged by this painful reality of death.  Where is Jesus?  How can God be God? 

God’s coming is not something spectacular.  Even if I am struggling to see Him but the Lord makes His presence known by the love, care and support of many people.  Realizing that I am not alone, the power and the glory of God are encountered and experienced not by great firework display but by real people whom I consider faithful and true when the going gets tough, tougher and even toughest.  I thought I would give up.  But the Lord has saved me and my family from despair. Why does God allow evil and even suffering to be experienced prior to His coming?  Sr Dianzon said, “The fundamental truth that the apocalyptic unveils is the definitive triumph of good over evil.”  In the midst of pain, evil and suffering, goodness shall prevail.  In that goodness, God resides, God rules and God reigns!  And so, let us persevere.  Never give up on prayer for as the Lord tells us, “Pray, that you may have the strength to overcome these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Third, relish God’s gift of peace.  In the 2nd Reading, St Paul exhorts the Christians of Thessalonica to prepare the coming of our Lord Jesus by increasing their love for each other.  Love is the way to peace.  Why?  When we love God by loving others, we are fulfilling God’s will.  If love is the principle in what we think, say and do, we can never doubt God’s presence.  Peace is not the absence of war, conflicts and struggles; it is God’s presence.  Peace is not the assurance that our faith will never be tried; it is our inner strength to face trials and temptations in life.  Peace is not attained by making agreements with benefits; it is our courage to do what is right and just to attain the common good.  Peace is not the prize for those who have access to power, position and prestige; it is the assurance that everything will be well in God’s time, for in His will is our peace.

The Lord is coming.  When? We do not know.  Let us be patient.  Prior to the Lord’s coming, we will experience trials and tribulations.  Let us persevere.  The Lord will certainly come, not according to our terms but according to His.  Let our acts of love lead us to peace.  Amen.

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us here.

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