By FR. MENG BARAWID, MI
First Sunday of Advent
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Welcome to the season of advent; adventus in latin and Parousia in Greek which literally means “coming”. This season set us to contemplate on the two coming of Jesus Christ: His coming as a human person and His second coming at the end of time (parousia) to rule an eternal kingdom. It is a season of preparation for Christmas and at the same time a preparation for Jesus’s second coming. In this season we contemplate on the coming of the savior, Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14), who took on human nature to effect salvation which is liberation from the maladies of human existence to fullness of life (John 10:10) in the here and now and unto the hereafter. The very purpose of advent season is to usher us into the gradual attainment of fullness of life under the eternal reign of God.
In the first reading (Isaiah 64:1-9), the prophet Isaiah enunciates a perceived absence of God in the life of the Israelites due to their being unclean and sinful people. They became unfaithful to their covenant with God. They failed to keep God’s commands and they neglected their responsibilities toward their neighbors. Their leaders clung on to power and colluded with conquerors rather than trust in God and their own people. Isaiah’s message was directed to the Israelites who were facing imminent occupation by the conquering empire of Syria. For Isaiah fullness of life can be obtained by turning away from transgressions, trusting in God and being fully under God’s kingship.
Like the prophet Isaiah we may feel the same longing for God who is seemingly absent when we look into the grim situation of the Philippines today. The tyrannical rule and collusion of the powers that be with imperialists and capitalists’ greed, rampant human rights violations and extrajudicial killings, vilification and red-tagging of human rights defenders and peace advocates, the gagging of the prophetic voice of church peoples and the media, impunity, corruption in government, utter neglect of government in time of pandemic and calamities, leaving behind millions of people in misery and the environment destroyed; these are acts defying a God of mercy, order, justice and peace. With this kind of situation in this time of advent we long and cry for salvation, a social emancipation from all these evils the Filipino masses are facing. We long for a Christmas free from tyrants and their blind followers, free from neglectful and corrupt government officials; a Christmas lived with joy in a genuine democratic state and on its way to meaningful societal changes- a glimpse to fullness of life.
The second reading (1 Corinthians 1:3-9), the message of Paul to the Corinthians and, to us today assures us that while waiting for the definitive time of salvation God, has granted those who wait “…with all discourse and all knowledge (1 cor. 1:5), and that those who wait “… are not lacking in any spiritual gift…” (1 Cor. 1:7). We take to heart the message of Paul lest we fall to despair, hopelessness and apathy when faced with insurmountable adversities such as those realities mentioned above. As we follow the Lord and live by his commands, we are assured that every endeavor we undertake is a living witness to God’s faithfulness and shall contribute to the attainment of fullness of life for the exploited and marginalized in the society.
The Gospel (Mark 13:24-37), calls followers of the Lord to stay awake, be alert and watchful. Jesus describes his coming as always imminent. He likens his coming to that of the head of a household who entrusted his household to his servants and that in his return he likes to see them doing their responsibilities and are awake to welcome him. If the Philippines is the Lord’s household and we are his servants given charge to keep the household in good condition then we take that as our responsibility. We shall not be fobbed off by public servants who are acting like “Lords” but in reality, are thieves and murderers, destroying God’s household. Being awake, alert and watchful is not only being focused on the coming of the Lord but also at the same time keeping his household on track in the experience of fullness of life.
The season of advent calls us to continue to participate in the establishment of God’s kingdom in the here and now of the Philippine society, to be firm in our resolve to live in righteousness by being vigilant, ever awake and responsible of our God given duties to nurture and protect his household – the Philippine society from the evil schemes of the fake “Lords”. As we live these calls we are gradually moving into the attainment of fullness of life. The question is are we fully committed to live up to these calls?
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).