The story is told about three robbers who were caught exiting the house of an elderly woman with their loot. They were able to get almost everything of value in the house except for the TV set. When asked why, their response was: “She was watching television while the robbery was going on.”
In today’s Gospel (Mk. 13, 33-37), Jesus reminds us to be vigilant, to be watchful, and to be alert, for we do not know the time when the Lord will come. Let us be ready, let us be prepared, for we do not know when the Lord will call us. Death may come at a time when we least expect it, like a thief in the night.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season for us to prepare for the birth of our Lord and Savior. A meaningful Advent leads to a meaningful Christmas celebration, and it all starts with a humble and contrite heart.
The Advent wreath, with its four candles, reminds us of the true spirit of Advent. The first candle, which will be lighted today, is the candle of hope. The second candle represents peace. The third candle represents joy. The fourth candle represents love. May our Advent preparation be filled with the spirit of hope, peace, joy, and love!
Today is also the start of the new liturgical year, the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. May we, the clergy and religious, be constantly in the Advent mode, hopeful, peaceful, joyful, and loving, pointing not to ourselves but to our Lord and His message in this our present day and situation.
Dec. 8 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness of the Philippines. She is our model and example for our Advent preparation. Let us learn to be more humble, joyful, pure, and simple disciples, always waiting for and obedient to our Master’s marching orders.
I was recently in Vigan, and there was something that struck me when I visited the chapel of my cousin, Archbishop Marlo Peralta, DD, of Nueva Segovia. The statue of our Blessed Mother has no hands! Whatever the reason for it being so, the message is clear: Mama Mary has no hands, and she needs our hands to spread God’s message and love.
On a personal note, Dec. 8 is the birthday of my mother, Concepcion. She would have been 96 years old this year. She has gone home to the Father, but she lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. She was a living witness to the Advent spirit of hope, peace, joy, and love. Also, today, Dec. 3, is the 50th priestly anniversary of Fr. Herminio “Among” Ricafort, SVD (+), and his classmates. People come and go. Yes, Lord, thy will be done, Lord!
A blind girl full of hope and joy, Fatima Soriano, will have her second kidney transplant on Dec. 8, and we continue to entrust her to Mama Mary’s loving care. A fundraising concert, “My Life In You (A Song for Fatima),” will be held on Dec. 7 at St. Cecilia’s Hall, St. Scholastica’s College, Leon Guinto St., Manila, at 7 p.m. The artists who will share their talent for this worthy cause are: Christopher de Leon, Jamie Rivera, Pinky Marquez, Niño and Alonzo Muhlach, Migz Haleco, Michael Angelo Lobrin, and other surprise guests. Tickets are available at the concert venue before the show on Dec. 7. For inquiries and donations, please call Marie at 7217457 or 09359452271, or Angie at 09189912563
He used to keep watch at night as a security guard, and now he has an entire airport under his watch as the Civil Aviation Association of the Philippines’ area manager of Puerto Princesa. It was so inspiring and uplifting to talk with engineer Percy Malonesio while waiting for my flight to Manila last Thursday. He related to me how he studied during the day, and how he worked at night. It was not easy, but with hard work and strong faith in God, he made it through. His is a beautiful story of our first Sunday of Advent message of keeping watch, and being full of hope.
My latest book, “A Moment a Day,” a collection of 365 anecdotes and reflections I’ve shared through the years, is now available at the SVD Mission Office, Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., Quezon City. For details and orders, please call Marie at 7217457 or 09359452271.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help us to be watchful, and may our lives be filled with hope. Amen.