God calls, “Venez!”
By Arnold C. Biago, SVD
The Church tells us that Advent is a time for waiting and longing for a future yet to come that is also at the same time already fulfilled in our midst.
The prophet Isaiah in the first reading provided the first voice of this human longing for the coming of the God-Savior. Isaiah spoke to the exiled Israelites in their trying moments: “Prepare the way of the Lord… Here is your God… He comes with power” coupled with vivid images of abundance, peace and prosperity associated with God’s blissful presence.
Now, our faith clearly and distinctly tells us that this longing for the coming of the Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus. In fact, in our Gospel today, John the Baptist announced the coming of the Messiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” Also, John declared that the Messiah’s work will be far greater than his as he said, “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Who then are we waiting for, which the season of Advent constantly reminds us of? Recall what we constantly profess with ardent faith: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again in glory!” The season of Advent then is renewed and intensified invitation to us to “own” and to “live” our faith in Christ who loved us by calling us to share in his glory.
Almost a month ago, I and the rest of the junior SVDs here in Congo went to the Bonobo Park. There I had the chance to watch closely this particular species of primates which happens to be at that time idling lazily under the shades playing, grooming each other or simply just lying on the ground unmindful of us who were at the other side of the fence. After a while, a caretaker came closer to the fence and shouted at the top of his voice, “VENEZ! VENEZ!” an imperative statement in French meaning “come” for he was “inviting” them to proceed to a particular place. Instantly, all the primates rose to their feet running away from us. Surprised by their reactions, Father Noi, wittingly said, “See, how intelligent these primates are, they understand French better than us!”
My dear friends, Advent is not an idle do-nothing kind of waiting and longing for the coming of the Lord but also and most importantly it is an invitation from Jesus to share in his life. Indeed, in this season, God is calling for us, “venez!”
In our lives as faithful followers of the Lord there are many occasions where he is inviting us, moments in which Jesus is calling for us, “venez!”
Sacramentally and liturgically, the Holy Eucharist is one great moment where the Lord invites us to come and share in his life by being nourished by the Word of God and by partaking in the Sacred Meal, i.e. receiving his most precious body and blood.
Also, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a totally obvious reference to God who is constantly waiting for us to be reunited with him by giving his unconditional love and forgiveness.
Among others that I will no longer mention is that Advent is also an invitation from God to recognize too his very presence in others. That is, that each person is a man, a woman saved and loved by God as myself.
To end this reflection, let me share with you a story:
One day, a boy asks permission from his mother, “Mommy, I’d been longing to see and meet God. May I spend this day to search for and meet God.” The very amused mother replied, “Fine with me my dear Son! Just be careful, and take care of yourself well!” The boy then prepared for a long journey, he placed several cans of soda drinks and potato chips inside his bag and left for a journey.
After several hours of walking and looking around for the place of God, the boy passed by a park. Tired, hungry and thirsty, he sat on a long bench beside a woman. He took out some cans of soda and potato chips. He was about to eat when he noticed that the woman seems to be hungry and tired, so he gave him potato chips. The woman smiled back as she was greatly delighted by the kind gestures. Caught by her beautiful smile, the boy shared to her cans of soda drinks as well in order to catch more of her beautiful smile. Again, she smiled back in gratitude. Since the boy liked so much to see the woman’s smile he stayed at the park together with the later, sharing food and smiles until sunset.
The boy decided to leave and go back home. Before leaving he gave the woman a big hug thanking him for her beautiful smiles, and from her face she saw the most beautiful smile he would never forget.
When the boy get back home, her mother was so surprised to see the glowing radiance of his face. She asked, “what happened to you son?” The boy gladly replied, “Mom, I’ve seen and meet God, and she had the most beautiful smile!”
The woman too get back home, her daughter who opened for her the door was also surprised to see the bright face of her mother. “Mother, where have you been? What happened?” She happily replied, “I meet God in the park, I could not believe he was that small and young!”
My dear friends, we too can readily meet God who constantly invites us if we have the eyes of faith, if we begin to recognize God in the small acts of kindness we receive from others. We meet Jesus also even in the smiles of those who have been touched by our kindness. With an eyes of faith, we begin to share in the life of God, and live with God.
The difficult situation that surrounds us (more particularly in Congo) oftentimes makes us think that God has abandoned us. I believe it is in this situation where we will meet God who suffers with the people he loves and died for. Show then to one another the face of God. In this way, we share to make come true our longing for the coming of God.