2nd Sunday of Advent(A)
December 5, 2010

Two things I like most about Advent season are: first, it is real short … just four short weeks and Christmas comes around without further ado! The second is, it brings in a whole lot of reasons that fit in nicely with the season!

Let us go straight to the point … Advent is all about coming, and coming points to waiting, and this is the whole point … Advent is all about waiting that goes beyond merely twiddling thumbs expecting for something to happen!

Today, the readings sound like things are happening right here, right now!  Isaiah talks glowingly about the coming Messianic times. He speaks in terms of images, graphic symbols that only serve to whet the appetite for what is to come … surely, definitely, without fail.

The first reading’s images remind me of a farm, a farmer, and his menagerie. It speaks about what pass for strange bedfellows. Isaiah speaks of sprouts from lifeless stumps, wolves living alongside lambs, lions lounging with carefree calves, and teething babies bantering with otherwise cruel cobras. The set of images are a lesson on clashing contrasts. In a word, they speak of something impossible.

Last Sunday, 1st Sunday of Advent, I saw pretty impossible images that stand more like closer to our reality. I presided over a moving funeral Mass at early morn. The sight of the young bereaved children left behind by a man even younger than me broke my heart. It was a picture of impossibility. How would a single mother now continue to send them all to school?

Later that day, I saw another impossible sight. I dwas asked to do a family therapy session for three young adolescent boys and their mother after their father much younger than me again, was ambushed and killed. Knowing in my heart that “it is such a secret place – this valley of tears,” (The Little Prince) I thought it was an impossible situation! My heart got broken a second time all in the course of a day’s work for me! And it had to happen when I, together with the whole Church, am supposed to preach about hope, about patiently waiting for what is to come surely and without fail.

This second Sunday of Advent, the readings convict my lack of hope and faith. But even before they did, the “impossible situations” I saw last Sunday already brought me face to face with my waning and wavering hope.

Today, I stand up with the courage and faith that I learned from people whom I ministered to last Sunday. I saw images of my father, a natural-born farmer by vocation, and an accountant by avocation, who first taught me precious lessons on hope. I saw images of Mang Jess, an old, retired public school teacher, who volunteered to help us develop the farm in Canlubang many years ago when I was there. I saw images, too, of my two grandmothers during my childhood, who literally made sprouts out of stumps, and raised a menagerie of cats and dogs, and free-range chickens and all, and figuratively made “a hundred deserts bloom” by sheer hard work and a lot of patience and more patient waiting. I remembered Mang Jess, who at way past 72 years, was still planting fruit trees for the future, who still raised animals and cultivated vegetable plots for others to enjoy. I remembered by grandmother who, long after her death, left us so much mementoes of gardens abloom, and fruit trees bearing copious and luscious fruits.

They all conjured up images of hope and patient waiting for me. They turned the impossible possible. They made what was, for all intents and purposes, meaningless into something real and meaningful. For the bereaved children of those I ministered to, I saw the tenacity of hope in the face of so much uncertainty, suffering, and pain.

Yes, dear friend … “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.”

Today, as I reflect together with you on the second Sunday of Advent, I am once more convicted by the readings and the whole tenor of the liturgy. My experience last Sunday assures me that it has nothing to do with empty promises, and that it has everything to do with reality. And it happens, not in an indefinite future, but a definite time, “in GOD’S time,” which means NOW.

I believe, together with Antoine de Saint Exupery, (The Little Prince) that “it is such a secret place – this valley of tears.” But this Sunday, I also would like you to know that I believe, together with Isaiah, Paul, and John the Baptist, that this “secret place” will  not be forever. “For there will no longer be crying, tears, or pain” (Rev 7).  “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.” (First Reading).

This Sunday, as every Sunday, but most especially through Advent season, this is what we proclaim and declare in our common worship – “that by endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.”

My father, Mang Jess, my two grandmothers – all farmers for that matter, knew it by experience and training. You plant today, and nurture and fondle what one has planted with the tenacity of hope. And this means, waiting, and waiting some more, for stumps to turn into sprouts, and everything  to bear fruit “in his time.”

Advent is all about coming. And it points to the need for waiting. And claiming what one waits for with faith, hope, and courage, is to make what seems impossible, possible. Like I personally saw last week. Like I continue to see in many of you today.