1st Sunday Advent (C)
December 2, 2012
SAFE AND SECURE IN THE LORD WHO IS JUSTICE!
Don’t we all love to hear good news! Fresh graduates who have recently taken the board or government licensure examinations wait interminably for good news to come their way. Sick people who undergo so many varied tests and lab works long to hear from their doctor how their health prognosis would be in the next few months or years. I know … been there; done that. The Lord knows how many examinations I have taken all my life, and waiting for good news is not something I am unfamiliar with.
But we all know that, no matter the good news, the events prior to, or surrounding the coming of good news, are not necessarily pleasant. Take it from Jeremiah, a prophet who has seen the best and the worst, as one who saw first hand the bitterness of exile in his prophetic career. He had, in many respects, literally hit rock-bottom. He knew what it meant to be down there in the dumps of despair, of discouragement, of depression, and despondency. Lamentations, in fact, and Jeremiah are not mutually exclusive terms.
But this is exactly what makes Jeremiah credible. He has seen life. He has gone through the best and the worst. And anybody in the depths of despair, who had been through the worst, knows whereof he speaks.
I personally, would be prone to listen and listen attentively to what such people have to say about future expectations that they know would eventually come. I would certainly listen more to one who has seen it all, than to an upstart preacher or teacher whose only passport to being one is a piece of parchment paper showing his or her academic credentials.
But where exactly does Jeremiah want to lead us to? What precisely is the core message that he wants us to understand?
I suggest one word that seems to sum up everything he says – PROMISE. The days are coming, he says, when the promise will come to fulfillment. And what could that promise be all about? Jeremiah himself gives details – the raising up of a just shoot for David and his descendants.
How about that for a moment of reflection?
People don’t feel safe anywhere nowadays. Just look at the tickets we buy to get from one place to another. It’s almost normal everywhere now to buy a plane ticket and buy an insurance for that seat you bought. And we are not speaking here of travel insurance, or personal accident insurance. We don’t feel secure. Any news of rockets about to be blasted into space, even in Southeast Asia, sends people scampering for safety nets, figuratively, so as not to become a statistic, should debris fall on you as you sail the seas in the flight path of the rocket, as happened recently during the North Korean rocket launch. Where I am, posh villages spend mighty sums of money just to secure their entire village (or, in many cases, a street) or themselves. People don’t feel safe. People don’t feel secure.
But it is, ironically, when we feel most insecure, when we become more hopeful and trusting. Today, as we begin a new year, we pray in earnest: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
To say that the world in our times is full of insecurity and turmoil is to speak of a certain level of certainty – the shallow certainty of facts. But what the readings inspire us today does not have anything to do with this superficial level of certainty, but all to do with the surety of faith, not mere facts.
What, according to history, are the facts that have troubled the Church since history began? Plenty. Potentates and kings and dictators have always sought to destroy her. They are all gone, but the Church of God is still very much around. So many have sought and tried with might and main to discredit her, including some of her very own ministers, priests, bishops and even bad Popes, but the Church is here to stay.
I write even as I watch the live feed of the National Thanksgiving Mass being held in Cebu City in honor of St. Pedro Calungsod. I cannot help myself but be touched by the simple faith of so many in Cebu and all over the country and the world, who now thank God for the gift of a saint so old and yet so young, so far removed from our chronological time, but so relevant to God’s own cyclical time (kairos).
This, I would like to think, is the kairos that all three readings point to … the coming days, the unfolding fulfillment of the promise, the coming to fruition of centuries of fervent dreaming and hoping of a people who, despite all the challenges, still maintain to hold on, not to the certainty of facts, but to the surety of faith.
And what does their faith show?
Behind all the pain, beyond all the challenges, fears, difficulties, despondency and all, lies the unbending promise that the Lord will come with all his holy ones. (2nd reading).
In a few words, this is what we hold on to and believe with all our hearts: in the Lord, our justice, our hope, and our peace, we are safe and secure even here, even now … today, for all days, in all ways, and for always!