The WORD in Other Words by Fr Anthony Salas SVD (Philippines) for 1st Sunday of Advent
From the many videos of Pope Francis’ international travels we see how the Catholic faithful and civil authorities prepare for his visit. Even though the arrival ceremonies are unique in every country, what is common however is how the host country demonstrates the hospitality of its people, the beauty of its culture, and the respect, joy and celebration of the Pope‘s coming to them.
But there is an aspect of the Pope‘s visit which is seldom presented by the media; the spiritual preparation of the faithful for the encounter with the Holy Father, the countless prayers that are offered privately and as a community, and many other organized activities to focus the attention of the faithful on the theme and purpose of the Papal visit.
This season of advent reminds us that there is one, greater than a Pope, who is to come in our lives.
Advent is a time of waiting. It is not a passive waiting but an active waiting like an expectant mother waiting for her baby to be born, or the inner longing of the children who are counting the days when their OFW mother or father would finally come home. It is like a farmer weeding out and applying fertilizer to the crops, as that farmer awaits the time of a bountiful harvest.
Although the Lord‘s actual coming is uncertain, it will surely happen as our readings of today forcefully remind us. This sense of uncertainty could even lead us to hopelessness and despair. In the midst of modern means of communication and socialization, people continue to experience loneliness, alienation and the loss of meaning in life. Instead of going after what really satisfies these human desires, many have relied on what the “world” can offer, such as, the instant gratification of the desires of the senses through drugs, gambling, accumulation of material things, casual sex, fleeting and non-committed relationships, etc.
The challenge of the Gospel is to focus on what is essential. Human realities that last are intangible although observable and can be experienced such as care and compassion, love, forgiveness, peace, etc.
We can persevere in hope if we too persevere in our faith. Our act of believing can be sustained by reaching out to others in acts of charity. Yes, Advent and Christmas seasons are times of believing, hoping, and giving. These three virtues do not only satisfy the inner human desires but also enable us to overcome the many challenges in life.