Life in the Lord shouldn’t be miserable. While we are experiencing bad things, there are reasons unknown to us why these events happened. It is hard to explain but let us be comforted with the fact that despite the difficulties, the Champ in us have to make sense of what’s happening, knowing that the Master Conductor is in control. The music remains a symphony waiting to be heard and appreciated. Will till you hear the finale!
In this Sunday’s Second Reading (1 Thes. 5: 16-24), the Apostle Paul tells us to,
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
The Champ remains joyful because he believes that life is meant to be a happy experience. Being joyful doesn’t mean the absence of pain. He knows that to stay the course, he chooses to remain faithful. He knows that despite the incompleteness, “life blooms over and over again”.
One of the most important lessons that my beloved late Mom Charing has given to us by way of her example is the importance of prayer. She has always stressed the importance of attending Mass, especially on Sundays and other Holy Days. When they were still both walking this earth, Mom and Dad made it a point to hear daily Masses, even travelling to other places to attend special feast days of the Church. Since the time we started going to Church with them, we were not allowed to be absent from family Sunday Mass. It was a rule which we cannot change, and which we also try to bring into our respective families. Our home visits-cum-vacations would always end with the recitation of the Holy Rosary and these always conjure memories of constant communication with God. Prayer ensures that our connectedness to God is maintained and nurtured, despite the efforts of the enemy to cut off this vital source of power.
In the First Reading (Is. 61: 1-2a, 10-11) the Isaiah prophesied,
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord…” (Is. 61: 1-2).
Today’s Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, and is a counterpart to the Laetare Sunday (during Lent) and provides a similar break about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming. The spirit of the Liturgy all throughout Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the Great Event of the Lord’s Birth as well as for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus suspended for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness in the promised Redemption. Symbolically, rose-colored vestments are worn instead of violet, which is otherwise prescribed for every day in this Season of Advent. Despite the otherwise somber readings which have as a secondary theme theneed for penitence, the readings today emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
In this eager anticipation we are again reminded to be always grateful. To be thankful in all circumstances, even in sorrow and even in pain. The Champ knows that this is part of creative development, of preparation for Eternity. He expects no less than cleansing and forming, trusting that the Lord knows what is best for him. As I write these thoughts, the Church is preparing for the first of the nine-day Novena Masses heralding the final preparation of the Baby Jesus’ coming. While we are still limited to physical distancing, the thoughts still send shivers up the spine as it also floods childhood memories of Christmas carols and loved ones, of home-made lanterns and gifts, cold mornings and native delicacies excellently prepared by my beloved Lola Andang. Yes, these are for now only memories but it also sums up the spirit of gratitude that is in my heart.
Reflect today on the need to remain in humble gratitude to the Lord, for seeing you through. Have you remained focused on yourself, instead of putting all the glory to God knowing that you are nothing more than His unworthy servant? Do you see value in imitating the humility of St. John the Baptist in pointing others to Jesus? Do you recognize the Lord as the source of all your talents, skills and abilities?
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Is. 61: 1)