28 November 2009

OUR REASON TO HOPE

1st Sunday of Advent
Lk 21:25-28; 34-36

The new liturgical year begins with the gospel about the end of the world. Strange! Does the Church want to frighten us? Should we cow in fear?

Indeed the picture of the end times that the gospel today paints for us is horrifying. But it is not intended to scare or intimidate us. Instead, the Church wants to remind us of what we often forget: Be prepared! Indeed, we should be prepared for the coming of that day when the world ends so that when it is here, we can stand erect and hold our heads high, as Christ admonishes us today. If we prepare for His final coming, we can stand with confidence before the Son of Man. The antidote to fear of Jesus’ glorious return at the end of time is to be prepared for it.

The last stroke of time is the first blow of eternity. As the flags of all nations are brought down from their poles, the flag of the kingdom of Christ the King is hoisted above all of creation. Not tragedy but liberation – this is how Jesus sees the end. In His view, the end of the present order is a prelude to the perfect order that the new heavens and the new earth shall bring. The final coming of Jesus is certainly not comic, but it is also not tragic. It is liberating. With all of creation, it is our final liberation.

However, like the prophets who appeared before Him, Jesus draws a horrendous picture of the future to influence what is happening in the present. He does not want fear to paralyze us; rather, He wants to strengthen us and spur us to action. The real purpose of speaking about the last days is to be able to say something about today – we must be vigilant. And since the future is determined by those who have shared responsibility in forming it, we, indeed, must remain awake and alert to what is happening in the present. Tomorrow begins right where we are now.

The gospel today encourages us to do two things that are really difficult to combine: to be realistic about the way things are going in the world and to never lose hope in the future. Difficult indeed! Rather often, the danger is this: we see very clearly the horrors – take, for example, the recent tragedy brought upon us by the twin super typhoons Ondoy and Pepe and the unspeakable, diabolic Maguindanao massacre – so much so that we may lose even the slightest vision of any reason for us to continue hoping. Thus, we need Jesus very much to convince us about the future that is truly liberating. Although our gospel today comes from the final discourse of Jesus to His disciples during the Last Supper, it is His entire life --- from birth in a manger through death on the cross – that is the best way of Jesus to convince us about the perfect freedom that the future brings with it.

This is one of the many blessings of Advent: we do not need to live hopeless. And, indeed, with the recent tragedies in our nation, we, Filipinos certainly need this blessing. Now more than ever, we need this season of hope. We need Advent to remind us and to convince us that we truly need not live hopeless. All we need is to remember the story of Jesus. We likewise must tell His story over and over again – both through words and actions. Making His story our story, His life our life, His loving our loving, too. And the memory of that love will provide us the reason we need to keep on hoping. The future has hope only because we are convinced of God’s actions in the past. We must keep on making that past present again, not by simple reminiscing or by addictive nostalgia but by living our lives as Jesus showed us how. In doing so, we retell the story of God’s love for us – a love that is both tender and tough, a Father’s love that is quick to affirm but not slow to discipline.

This story of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus begins with every Advent. We need to be reminded of the love of God. We have to check the record to assure our selves. Then, we see how wide, how great, how deep, and how strong the love of God for us is as we look on His greatest and priceless gift for us – His own Son, Jesus. Unless we fix our eyes on Jesus, we have no reason to hope.

1 Comments:

At 12:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

to be realistic about the way things are going in the world and to never lose hope in the future. -very true inspirational for all - THAT'S RESILIENCE.

 

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