Mission Society of the Philippines

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1st Sunday of Advent A: IT'S A TWO-WAY COMING

It’s a two-way coming!

Who’s coming? That is usually the question asked, when we see people preparing for the arrival of someone. I can recall when I first announced to my parents that I will be coming home for the holidays. I spent many years living overseas as a missionary, and coming home is always special. I know that they have really prepared because, the bed is freshly made, the room where I am staying may have a flower, or at times a sign that says: “Welcome home!”

I myself made some preparations. Because it is not just a home coming. I can also say that they are coming to me. Excited as I am, a few days before departure I laid down all the things that I will be bringing with me. And a huge amount of space in my luggage are taken by the presents that I will be giving them. Pinoy as I am, pasalubongs are always anticipated. That adds thrill to the coming. What will I bring this time?

This first Sunday of Advent invites us to reflect of two comings. And it invites us to “stay awake.”

First, it is obviously the coming of the Lord. We celebrate His coming into our humanity as one like us, a human, born in a manger. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the coming of the Son of Man.” It is God himself who came to us and who always come to us, in the events of our lives. However, Jesus in Scripture points us to the reality that “humans have been both unfaithful and faithful in God’s ways, paid attention to his instructions, and sometimes do not, have been asleep and have stayed awake to God’s comings.” It is like saying that Humans are at times prepared, and at times ill-prepared. It’s like what another Gospel parable teaches us, “I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat, and I was hungry, and you did not give me food to eat.” Yet, God comes to us always.

Secondly, it is about our coming to the Lord. The first reading gives us a hint, that many times it is we who come to the Lord. “Come let us climb the Lord’s mountain.” The prophet Isaiah described it as the day when all nations will climb the Lord’s mountain. A ‘mountain’ is another way of describing God’s presence. It is a journey where just like in the olden times, we come to God. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” We come to the Lord, and we journey under His inspiration. Coming to God makes us radiate His light to others. In the many places where we live, recreate, work, function, at times there will be darkness, dimness, haziness, people who walk to God, can brighten these spaces with Christ’s light. To be concrete about this, I experience this myself. Every time I have been to God, in the sacraments, in prayer, or even in his presence, I have been able to radiate this presence of God to others. When I am tempted to be angry, there’s this inner peace. I also see this happening in other people. When they are tempted to cheat, after praying and visiting God in Church, they can say, ayaw ng Panginoon na mangdaya ako! A friend of mine told me this. It’s like an instruction coming from God. It was God’s special guidance.

Finally, “Stay awake” are two words that were mentioned thrice in the readings. It is an indication of emphasis, and also of importance. Pope Francis used these words to describe the fight against poverty. He asks us to be active participants in life. “Whoever does not take up challenges, is not living. Your willingness and your abilities, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit who abides in each of us from the day of Baptism, allow you to be more than mere spectators, they allow you to be protagonists in contemporary events… Please do not watch life go by from the balcony! Mingle where the challenges are calling you to help carry life and development forward… in the battles for poverty, values and in the… battles we encounter each day.”

When we ask again the question: who’s coming? We know the answer. It is God. It is us. And through this inspiration, we become heroes, people who take action to help people now, we are called to serve, to not be afraid. We can assist people around us, a family member, a friend, coworker, stranger, nature, nation, or our world. Amen.


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