I must confess that I am also guilty of getting into the so-called “Christmas rush” that is totally empty of Jesus Christ. No, I am not a “shopaholic” but this early I am already so stressed out with my toxic schedules of activities for the coming Christmas. And that is when God in His amazing ways intervened by totally cutting me off from the “loop” to redirect me to the spirit of Advent that calls us to create a room for Christ’s coming. It started two weeks ago when our internet connection became erratic which we thought was just normal in our country so notorious for its dismal internet services. But when I could no longer connect with the internet for my work last Tuesday and Wednesday for my talks, classes and blogs, we called a technician to fix the bugs, only to be told that the problem is my nine year-old Sony Vaio that needs to be upgraded or totally replaced. My first reaction was to replace the technician but it was the first time I really felt to be out of the web that can be alienating and even debilitating. That was when I realized to pray more, to fast from social media and modern communications, hoping to find Jesus Christ anew in my additional periods of prayer and silence. It was also at that time when my Ninong and Ninang came from the US to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary at the church where they got married with me as the priest-presider. After the reception, they asked me to go with them to their hotel where they surprised me with a Christmas gift, a new laptop computer! See how God works in amazing ways if we give Him a room in our lives; my plan was to get a new computer next year but here is God sending me one from heaven right on my lap in the most perfect time.
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysania was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Lk.3:1-3).”
Every time, every moment is a perfect time for God to come but, do we have a room for Him in our lives? Luke presents us today the setting of the first coming of Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago. Times may have changed but the situation and feelings remain the same to this day when God comes to us right in the midst of our present situation, whether in our personal lives or in our political world or religious set up. There is always that voice in the wilderness calling us to repent and prepare His way, His coming. In the first Sunday of Advent last week, we reflected how this season of preparation is the presence of God which we can truly experience when we dare to open ourselves to Him in prayer and silence. On this Second Sunday of Advent, our readings deepen this reflection of finding the presence of God by having a room or space for Him in our hearts and in our lives.
According to the late American Neal A. Maxwell who was an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, “Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” What a beautiful insight that is very true! We need to create a space and room in ourselves – more than just merely opening – to welcome Jesus Christ’s intense presence in our lives these days! With all hyperrevolution now happening in our midst due to modern means of communications that have greatly affected our lives, the more we need to experience Christ’s intense presence so that we are not only informed and formed but most of all transformed like during the time of John the Baptizer. Every year, the second and third Sundays of Advent are always about the preaching of John the Baptist which is essentially about the coming of Jesus Christ.
The key here is the intense presence of Jesus Christ not only in us but also in the world. The detailed reportorial by Luke of the setting of Christ’s coming over 2000 years ago suggests the integration of salvation history with secular history of all peoples. Christ has come and Christ will come again though Christ had never left us but remains with us in the present. We have just celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that reminds us of God’s presence amid man’s absence. We become absent to God when we sin like Adam who hid from God after eating the forbidden fruit. We fail to meet and experience God in His power and grace when we are absent to Him as we prefer to spend more time with things of the world than of heaven. We become absent from God when we refuse to abandon our sinful ways or when we have stopped to hope for any change and salvation coming from God with whom nothing is impossible. This Sunday, let us intensify the presence of God by creating a room, creating a space in our hearts and in our lives where Jesus may dwell and reign to direct our lives like John the Baptizer who went to desert to fast and create a space in himself and in his life for Christ. It is impossible to meet God when we are so filled with things of the world and of ourselves. God has many plans for us in Jesus that He sent Him to us but He cannot do anything if we do not let Him into our lives. St. Paul tells us in the second reading that he is “confident” or sure that God will fulfill his promise that every man and woman shall see “the salvation of God” (Lk. 3:6). Let us continue to dare on this second Sunday of Advent to open ourselves to God by creating a room for Him in our hearts and in our lives and allow Him to take possession of us like what Baruch prophesied in the first reading when Jerusalem would eventually be liberated from its conquerors. Look back to your past and see how the Lord has done great things for you; trust Him, hope in Him always for He has come, He shall come and He is come. AMEN. Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, .Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan
*Photo by Jim Marpa, St. James the Greater Parish, Solsona, Ilocos Norte, 17 July 2018. Used with permission.