VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, S.J.
Advent means the coming. It is the preparation for the coming of the Lord. It is the commemoration of the coming of Christ to save us from sin. Many prophets and wise men longed to see the coming of the Christ. Simeon, when he received the child Jesus sang his song: Now you can let your servant go for I have seen the Redeemer. Advent is time of sacrifice in preparation of the great feast, the favorite of Filipinos-Christmas. We must not forget why we are rejoicing. The savior has come to free us from sin and our own weaknesses. Advent is a time of sacrifice, a time of going against the flesh and its tendencies.
They tell the story of the family of St. Therese of Liseiux that in Advent their mother put an empty crib with straw beside it. Every time any of the girls was able to make a sacrifice, she was allowed to put a straw in the crib. The idea was that if there was enough straw in the crib from the acts of penance of the family, then the Lord would be comfortable when He was laid in the manger. Advent is the preparation for the coming of the Lord of Lords. He is the Son of the Almighty and yet when He came, he was not even able to get a room in the inn. He had to be born in a stable. What is the King of Kings doing in a stable? His kingdom is not of grandeur and power but one of humility and love.
In Advent we must not celebrate as if the Lord has already come. It is the reliving of the time of the prophets who announced the coming of the Messiah. It was a time of longing and fasting, of sacrifice and prayer to hasten the coming of the Savior. Jesus would come on Christmas day but as we relive the time of the Prophets, we relive a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Fasting can mean its literal sense of abstention from food and drink but also any form of foregoing what we like or enduring what we don’t like. It also means suffering injustice as followers of Christ who on the cross prayed for His persecutors: Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. His is a kingdom of justice and love, a kingdom of self-sacrifice and joy.
Advent is a time of prayer and anticipation of His coming to save us from our own sins. The more we pray, the more we make what is not pleasing to our nature, the more prepared we will be when He comes on Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for the great feast. Let us not lose its meaning as a time of preparation. We have to prepare ourselves. For we know that with time we are dirtied by our own weaknesses. Come Lord and save us. We have to prepare not only for noche buena feast but prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord Jesus into our hearts.