Getting to meet the Lord needs special preparation and readiness. The Holy One, the Perfect One, without blemish, deserves the best preparation, the best Advent. Before Jesus birth, righteous men and women lived by faith and awaited His coming. As the Catholic Church prepares on the Third Sunday of Advent, the mood becomes one of rejoicing, and hence this Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday. Unlike the previous two Sundays, this one is more joyful, more rejoicing in mood. As faithful followers of Jesus, we are challenged to be His face to others: to make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap, and then make the mute sing. The readings are rich with exhortation, wisdom and promise:
‘The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.’ (Is. 35: 1-2a)
This year, the fruit harvest in Mindanao were not as bountiful as in previous times, brought about by the extended dry spell. When the rains came late, most plants were already in the flowering stage such that when the downpour was heavy, most young flowers were cut off and wasted. Yet, despite this weather, there were still many fruit plants that survived and most of us were still able to taste its richness and bounty. There was still enough for everyone.
Aside from the earth’s rejoicing, God also promised to,
‘Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: ‘Be strong, fear not! (3-4)
In these times of turmoil and noise, one must be able to see beyond the haze and the darkness. The Prince of Peace is coming soon! He will come with hope and rejoicing. As if to extend our patience, He has reassured us again, and His promise will not fail to save us.
I’ve been asked countless times if we can make beer faster, say in a day. A day? Wow, that’s so fast indeed! For now, I haven’t figured out how. But suffice it to say that the brew that we enjoy takes a precise and definite time to make. After brewing in kettles and conditioning, we let the brew ferment with the yeast doing its own task, unmindful that it (the yeast) is making possible for fermentation to proceed. The mellowing process follows and then some finishing steps and packaging before we get to enjoy one of the world’s best beers. See, it takes some time, and we have to be a little patient for the flavor and aroma to develop and manifest. Sooner we will be able to get the idea of how to make it faster, but for now, let us savor the process of waiting in joyful anticipation.
St. James in his letter tells us to ‘Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.’ (Jas. 5: 7). He urges that our patience be like that of the ‘…farmer patiently waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, until it receives the early and the late rains’. We can get impatient, but Jesus does things at precisely the right time. There is a time for everything and just like the brewer, we need to wait a little so to speak.
John the Baptist, like most of the Jewish people of the day, have their own template of who Jesus is. He may be somewhat impatient of things that have to happen fast, but Jesus was quiet. Yes, He can perform miracles in an instant, but the promised salvation of mankind is going to undergo the process and will take time. John, his followers, you and me, need to be patient. Actually, that is easier said than done. This time of year often results in impatience. We can’t wait to finish our Christmas shopping, send our gifts, and put up our decorations. In fact, we were quite anxious even as early as October. The malls and shopping centers are full and often we skimp over Advent, forgetting what it is about and want to jump right into Christmas Eve. We want Christmas to be here, right now! Without our knowing it, Advent becomes about us, and less about the Lord.
Let this Advent therefore, allow us a little more patience, like making a great brew. Take this Season to turn off the noise, take time to hear His voice in Confession. Take the time to get outside, to speak to the boys watching the cars in your Church, and listen to them. Christ is there, all around. He is within you: allow Him to use you to show Himself to others.
May this Advent Season bring out the John in us, as we wait in patience, so that in our own way, we may be worthy to bring glad tidings to the poor.
‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’ (Mt. 11: 10)