Moments

The four ‘rings’ of Advent

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The story is told about a man who saw an old man pulling a rope behind him as he walked.  Finding it strange, he walked up to him and said: “Hey, grandpa, why are you pulling the rope? That’s crazy!” The old man looked at him and said: “What’s crazy about that? Would you rather have me push the rope in front of me?”

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In today’s Gospel (Lk. 3, 1-6), we hear of John the Baptist who proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins echoing Isaiah’s message: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” As we walk on in life, are there things, persons, issues that block the road ahead of us in our journey to God’s heart?

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Advent is the time for cleaning up, and clearing up. It is that painful but liberating time to let go of excess baggage that we do not need for the journey. It is the time for getting rid of things, habits, mind sets, situations, and even persons that harm us, and destroy us. Let go… let God!

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God’s call is concrete, addressed to a specific person, living in a particular date and time, with a special mission. Thus, John the Baptist was called in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, to preach repentance in the whole region of Jordan. During our own day and time, God, too, is calling us to do our mission for Him. Let us listen and obey the call. Let us not belittle, and not forget, our mission. John’s life mission and life message were clear. What is your mission?  What is your message? What are you saying by your very life?

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What are the four “rings” of Advent? Just as we have four candles in the Advent wreath, there are also four “rings” of Advent: Prepa-ring, clea-ring, implo-ring, and bea-ring.

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Advent is the time for PREPA-RING. May our hearts, like the manger, be cleansed of whatever thorns, thumbtacks, or toxic chemicals that prevent us from welcoming the Baby Jesus. Confession is the best cleansing preparation for Christmas. In a humble and contrite heart, that is where Christmas happens.

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Advent is the time for CLEA-RING. It is the time for us to reach out to each other in peace and reconciliation. In humility, let us break down the walls of hatred and indifference and be real brothers and sisters again. A lot of issues cannot be solved in arguments and discussions or in legal battles and litigations. When we allow grace to operate, that’s when doors and hearts are really opened.

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Advent is the time for IMPLO-RING.  Prayer is the key to a meaningful Advent and Christmas season. It is in these quiet, hidden moments with the Lord in grateful prayer that we know and feel “what’s it all about.” Wishing you peace, serenity and prayerful moments amidst the rush and buzz of this time of the year.

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Advent is the time for BEA-RING. All our personal preparing, clearing, and imploring will amount to nothing if they do not lead us to become better and more loving persons. The grace of God must bear fruit in concrete expressions of love, especially to the less fortunate among us. Christmas is not so much about being cozy and nice, or being spiritually high, as about becoming instruments of God’s concrete love wherever we are.

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Typhoon “Pablo” left behind thousands of our people homeless, sick, and hungry. Let us help them concretely. Just as around us, the poor and the needy continue to beg and ask, not only at Christmas but all year round.

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Architect Jun Palafox reminded me that Dec. 9 is World Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption is one area where we still need a lot of healing as a people and as a nation. Hundreds died last week due to floods and mudflow. Why? It is easy to blame it on nature, but the fact is that some selfish individual, family, or company or government official made a lot of money because of illegal logging and mining, leaving countless poor people in pain and suffering.

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For those who are so bent on passing the Reproductive Health bill for whatever reason (money? politics? convenience? pragmatism?): May you not regret the day when your children and grandchildren will be drowning in a society that is flooded with immorality and promiscuity. Let us not open the floodgates that would destroy our precious “Fs” as a Filipino nation—freedom, faith, and family.

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Dec. 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Unborn. Let the children live. Let us not interfere with life. Please don’t be too fast and loose when it comes to life. Let man be man, let God be God. Our Lady of Guadalupe, we beg for peace, and we place our country under the mantle of your protection. Amen!

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Bantay Matanda invites you to a lay forum on “Healthy Aging” on Dec. 15 at the Janssen Hall of Christ the King Seminary, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. For inquiries, call 3732262/9982548/09174167849.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me in my preparing, clearing, imploring, and bearing operations for you this Advent. Amen.

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