The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
First Sunday of Advent, Year C
29 November 2009
Jeremiah 33:14-16 /// 1Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 /// Luke 21:25-28.34- 36
A catechist asked her Grade Four students what do the letters “R.I.P.” mean; finding no one who seem to know the answer, the catechist asked her students to simply guess. That’s when a little boy raised his hand and defined “R.I.P.” as “Return If Possible.”
Our Gospel account for this Sunday speaks about the return, or, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time; it is the first component of the Season of Advent that we usher in today to start our new liturgical calendar. This focus on Christ’s Second Coming or return will run until December 16 when we shift our sights on Christ’s First Coming more than 2000 years ago from December 17 to Christmas Eve.
Between these two comings is the present moment, the here and now, where Jesus also comes in our daily lives. Such is the tension of Jesus Christ being here with us, but, not yet, because He’s coming again that we proclaim it daily in every Mass as the mystery of our faith: “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!”
This tension of the “here-and-now- but-not-yet” becomes more evident in our daily lives when tragedy strikes us or problems plague us.
Sorry for being silent these passed weeks… Aside from my toxic schedules, I have opted to be silent recently due to the “Maguindanao Massacre” that made me feel so sad, very, very sad and even bad. The sadness brings tears into my eyes every time I would watch the TV news and read the various reports of how those people, mostly women and journalists were killed and then buried. There was always that cold feeling gushing through my spines later to be replaced with a rush of seething anger, terrible anger, that I sometimes wish I were not a priest so that I could say, or do, what’s really in me against the perpetrators of this heinous crime who must be neither humans nor animals but devils. (Mga impakto!)
Sorry, but, maybe I felt this way because I was a journalist before…How could such a thing happened in this era, in this age supposedly marked with so much progress? Most of all, as I prayed for this Sunday’s Gospel, all I felt was to search the sense and meaning of Advent in the Maguindanao Massacre. Is there anything to wait for? to hope for in this country of ours?
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…and that day catch you by surprise. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk.21:34,36)
Jesus Christ had said it then and says it to us anew today that these horrible things would indeed happen; more killings, more calamities would certainly come but let us not be carried away by these trials and tribulations that we become like evil men. Pray always and don’t be carried away by these evils. Yes, it is easier said than done but, we have to persevere.
Advent is a season of “active waiting in hope” for Jesus Christ.
A lot often, we hate to wait because we always take waiting as empty; there is always that feeling that when we are waiting, there is nothing in us, with us. “Wala pa ba?” “Are we there yet?” are the questions we hear while waiting.
But, every waiting is never really empty because the very reason why we await someone or anything is because we have them already in our hearts, in our memories, in our experiences. We await because we have had a foretaste of who’s to come or what to come. We wait for our birthdays, for our paychecks, for our loved ones because we have had them all before even at least in our imaginations; we would never await them if we never knew them at all!
Yes, Christ is coming at the end of time that we do not know but we are awaiting for Him because He’s already here in our hearts as we experienced His love, His mercy, and His friendship. Our waiting for Jesus is just like our waiting for our relatives and friends in distant places whom we do not see nor talk with but we are so sure we have them in our hearts or in our consciousness. Same thing with our beloved departed ones whom we await in our dreams, in our sights, and in that final time; we may not see nor talk with them like those still alive but we know deep in our hearts, they are with us and, yet and yes, we are awaiting them.
As I prayed for the souls of those massacred in Maguindanao, I have realized that there is really no darkness in this world but only blindness among some men and women who are blinded with power, wealth, and fame. They do all kinds of evil because they refuse to see the light of Jesus Christ, or whatever religion they follow. Despite this tragic Maguindanao massacre, there is enough reason for us to wait and hope always for Jesus Christ; in fact, recent turn of events confirm that Jesus had never left us even in the Maguindanao massacre because some of the suspects have started telling the truth after their conscience bothered them so much. That was Jesus coming and, thank God these suspects-turned- witnesses were not blinded like their masters!
Quite often, I often hear from some foreigners I have befriended or simply met that the Philippines is a paradise, a blessed country. I believe them as I came to see other countries or hear stories from their lands. But, still, why do they have better airports, better facilities, better services, better economies? Maybe because many of us are blind in electing our leaders, most of whom are blinded with power, blinded with wealth, and blinded with fame. Include us priests and bishops and nuns in the Church to the list of leaders blinded too by the devil. And, on a personal level, if we examine the woes that befall us, could it be that what we have are not really darkness but our own blindness too?
Blinded people who refuse to see the light are most likely the most impatient and lazy ones too. When we await someone or something, we are not passive nor idle; patient and persevering people who await are always active, doing something while waiting. They are the creative ones who enjoy the sceneries of the trip as part of any destination. Hence, the most fulfilled too!
This is the reason why St. Paul tells us in the second reading to always “conduct yourselves to please God” (1Thess.3:4) because Christ would surely return and blessed are those whom He finds doing good when He comes again. That’s the reason why Jesus never gave us the date for His return so that we would keep on doing what is good as we await Him. Idleness and laziness are always a hairline from sin and evil.
Last but not least, Advent is about the virtue of hope which is evoked in the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah who lived during one of the most turbulent periods of Jewish history. Things were not getting any better during his time and yet he kept on telling the people to hope and believe God’s promised salvation.
Hope is not believing things could get better like the weather or the economy or our health; that is optimism. Hope is having that assurance deep inside us that as things get worst, there is always Jesus Christ who would never leave us nor abandon us to lead us into eternal life. This is the reason why the Lord asks us to keep our eyes opened as these frightening things happen: first, He would never abandon us and secondly, it is during these trying times when He truly comes. In fact, those are the moments when Jesus is most closest with us although we often feel being left behind or abandoned. Hold on and hope in Christ!
“But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
As we experience so many hardships and trials as a nation and as individuals, this Season of Advent encourages us to forge on, to actively wait in hope for Christ’s Second Coming. Things could get worst for us as a country or as individuals but we need not be frightened nor terrified because Jesus Christ is always with us and would be with us until the end, seeing more the fruits of our efforts to live in love than our sinfulness.
The moment we remove active waiting in hope for Christ’s coming, that’s the time we stop believing and loving in God and with others. And that’s the time we begin destroying our selves and others not because of any darkness around us but due to blindness within us.
Remember, Jesus Christ comes first into our hearts.
He had already come. And would surely come again because He’s already there in our hearts. Amen.
fr. nicanor f. lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000