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Watchful and hopeful

The story is told about a politician who was told by his constituents that they have two problems. The first problem: They have no doctor in their barrio. He pretended to call someone on his cellphone, and then said: “Problem solved! What’s your second problem?” The people responded: “We have no signal in the barrio.”

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Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the time for all of us to clean our hearts, and prepare for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s the time to get real, and do away with all pretense and alibis just to get by.

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In today’s Gospel (Mk. 13, 33-37), Jesus tells us: “Be watchful, be alert!” We do not know the time nor the hour when the Lord of the house is coming. If only we were watchful and alert of the presence of the Lord in our midst as much as we are of the virus COVID-19.

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Focus more on Jesus, not so much on the virus! Let us not be imprisoned by the COVID-19 culture of fear, anger, selfishness, hopelessness, and depression. Let us be vigilant that we do not surrender to the power of darkness around us. Whenever we can, in any way we can, let us keep following the light, and keep spreading the light.

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We light today the first candle of the Advent wreath, the candle of hope. No matter what happens, let us not give up on hope. When hope is gone, then we become hopeless, and when we become hopeless, we lose courage and reason to go on. When hope is gone, the battle is lost and done.

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Let us not kill the hope of people, especially the “little ones.” Let us respect, and support their hopes and dreams as much as we can. For those who have become so selfish, cynical, and unkind, may the season of Advent be a time to give hope a chance, and give “hopeless” people a chance. In God’s eyes, there’s no such thing as a hopeless person.

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We hope this pandemic will end soon! Along with this is our hope that we continue to remain strong and hopeful through it all, and not be drowned in the hopelessness of this pandemic situation.

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During a zoom Mass, I accidentally pressed a button, and all the participants disappeared from the screen! Good that the audio was still working. Not knowing what to do, I panicked, but had the courage to ask if someone could help me. One participant guided me through, and after some pressing on the keyboard, voila! I saw smiling faces on the laptop screen again.

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I learned from this “laptop moment” the following lessons: When the unexpected happens, don’t panic, and don’t lose hope; Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help; Be humble to accept that you don’t know everything; Listen well and obey the instructions of people who can help you; Believe that help will come; Keep a hopeful and joyful trust that all will be well in the end.

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Think about this: Someone said that ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.

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Let me end with a story I heard about the four candles. The first one, Peace, went off because of too much fighting. The second one, Faith, also went off because people stopped believing. The third one, Love, also went off because of too much hatred. A child enters the room and cries upon seeing that the three candles stopped burning, whereupon the fourth candle, Hope, tells her: “Don’t be afraid. I am Hope, and while I am still burning, we can re-light the other candles again.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help us to be watchful and hopeful, through it all. Amen.

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TAGS: Gospel, Jerry M. Orbos, Moments
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