We are never empty & alone when waiting patiently even in the dark

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday in the Season of Advent, Cycle B, 03 December 2023
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 ><}}}*> Mark 13:33-37
Photo by author, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 08 December 2022.

Iwas literally waiting the “advent” or coming of my doctors last Thursday as I wrote this homily for this first Sunday of Advent, the new year in our Church calendar. It was a hazy morning with some drizzle when I arrived for my doctors’ appointments.

But, it was a graceful moment too as I rediscovered the virtue of patience by being a patient myself again.

Sick people are called patients precisely because healing requires a lot of patience. Tons of patience in fact, especially if we are incapacitated or too weak to move. And the most difficult part of patience is waiting, from the simple waiting for doctors and nurses, waiting for the end of the day to waiting for our complete healing until we are well again.

Photo by author, First Sunday of Advent 2021, Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City.

The difficult part of waiting is that we are so conscious of time which we find to be flowing so slowly, making us irritable even doubtful if ever the one we are awaiting would ever come or materialize at all. That is why patience has become a virtue so rare these days.

Many people reject, even abhor patience in this age of instants when everybody wants to bear fruit but resent how it takes time to ripen. We want to have everything now na! We do not want to wait because we are no longer contented with whatever comes to us so that we advance our salaries and buy things in credit cards. Worst is this notorious practice of advancing public holidays to other dates closest to weekends to have “long weekend” celebrations. Even Christmas is not spared from our impatience! See how malls and local government buildings, homes and radio stations could not wait after the Halloween with all the lighting of Christmas trees and decors everywhere.

Unknown to us, we are robbing ourselves of very essence of the event of Christ’s coming to us when we manipulate time and its natural flow. When we lose patience, we stop waiting, then we miss the essence of life, of persons, of everything because we think waiting is being empty.

That is not true! Waiting is never empty. On the contrary, waiting is actually fullness because the very fact that we wait means we have.

Photo by author, lanterns for sale in San Fernando, Pampanga, November 2020.

When we were growing up, we loved waiting for dad’s coming home from work. We were filled with joy the moment we heard jeepneys stopping, hoping it was dad. Even if he would come home later in the evening when it was dark, we always felt so sure and excited of his arrival with pasalubong because he was always in our hearts.

That is the greatest joy of patient waiting – it is fullness of love due to our relationships. People who can’t wait, who are impatient are often loners, even complainers because they always feel empty within without any regard at all for relationships. Most likely, they have no relationships at all!

Photo by author, lanterns for sale in San Fernando, Pampanga, November 2020.

The first reading reminds us of this great beauty of patient waiting, of already having God himself within us with Isaiah calling God “our father, our redeemer” that both indicate kinship and relationships with him.

You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever.

Isaiah 63:16

Very notable is the word “redeemer” that is go’el in the Hebrew language – the family relative who pays off debts or redeems a foreclosed property so that their family or tribe could keep it.

That is exactly what Jesus came for – to redeem us, to ransom us from our debt we could not repay God which is love. By dying on the Cross, Jesus saved us, redeemed us from the clutches of death and evil to be filled with life again. And that is why he is coming again to ultimately vanish all evil and sin to bring us to new heaven and new earth.

Physically we do not see Jesus but realistically, spiritually, we are certain he is with us, within us. Therefore, our waiting for him is never empty but always full of Jesus precisely due to the relationship we have in him and with him.

Photo by author, Advent 2019 in our former parish.

Waiting for Jesus is an expression of our faith. And we wait with him, just like the apostles in the agony of the garden. Notice how Mark narrated to us this calls for being watchful by Jesus; unlike Matthew, Mark mentions the time of Christ’s coming – at night.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come… whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13:33, 35-37

This may be a minute detail for us but not for Mark who was the first to write the gospel of Jesus which happens to be the shortest and most concise. Night time in the Bible evokes darkness when evil seems to dominate the time which we continue to think of in the present.

But, we are children of light as St. Paul reminds us in one of his letters. And this Sunday he assures us in the second reading that “God is faithful” who “called us to fellowship” in him through Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). Let us not be afraid of the dark and long waiting for Jesus because he had conquered it when he walked on water, when he stilled the storm in the sea, when he rose again on Easter. Do not forget too that Jesus was born during the darkest night of the year, a reminder and assurance to us that no matter how dark our lives may be, Jesus is near, Jesus is here. So, have no fear in him, our brother and kin who had saved us!

Photo by author, Advent 2019 in our former parish.

Watch and be on guard on Christ’s coming and presence in darkness because too often, we are the ones who miss the Lord. Keep in mind that it is at night, it is in darkness when it is best to believe in the light. Here, we again find that waiting even in darkness in never empty because that is when we are so sure there would be great light bursting forth soon as Isaiah had prophesied that was eventually fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we get bored even impatient or sleepy waiting for Jesus like the five wise virgins who brought extra oil waiting for the groom to arrive. The key is to remain in Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus as we pray like John the Beloved, Maranatha, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.

Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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