“The Nearness of You” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1956)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 December 2021
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Galilee, Israel, May 2019.

Lately everybody has been saying “Christmas is around the corner” or “Christmas is in the air” or simply “It’s Christmas”! This is the time of the year when we are most conscious of the season not of the Person behind the celebrations.

Christmas is Jesus Christ, of God becoming human like us, of God dwelling and living among us.

Christmas is the nearness of God among us.

That is why as we get closer to Christmas on this Second Sunday of Advent, we have chosen the very popular and lovely song The Nearness of You written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington to remind us of the Person of God so near among us ( see our reflection https://lordmychef.com/2021/12/04/advent-is-being-small-and-simple/).

Covered by so many artists since its debut in the 1938 movie Romance in the Dark, The Nearness of You has been covered since then by so many artists. Our favorite is still Frank Sinatra’s and this duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The song is very short but very touching because it is person-oriented which is what Christmas is all about, of God in Jesus Christ getting closest to man and vice-versa.

It’s not the pale moon
That excites me
That thrills and delights me
Oh no
It’s just the nearness of you

It isn’t your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
Oh no
It’s just the nearness of yo
u

Here we find in our relationships, whether with God or with others, the importance of being small, of being humble before everyone to be absorbed by the magic of the moment, of the relationship. When we look at the stars and the moon above us at night or watch a majestic sunrise or sunset, we experience our littleness yet it is in that being small when we also feel our greatness. It is in that being small when we feel so aware of our very selves, of others around us and of this beautiful world.

It is the same story of Christmas, of Christ born a Child on a lowly manger. Most of all, before his coming, there was also John the Baptist his Precursor who went to the desert to become small before God in preparing the way of the Lord.

On this Second Week of Advent we are reminded of God’s nearness among us if we can be small like John in the wilderness who preached the need to repent our sins to make a space within us for the coming Jesus Christ. Amen.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.

Advent is being small and simple

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Second Sunday of Advent-C, 05 December 2021
Baruch 5:1-9 ><}}}*> Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11 ><}}}*> Luke 3:1-6
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

From “beginning with the end” last Sunday at the start of Advent, we now move into its second week when we are reminded by the readings and gospel that “everything begins small and simple” in God and with God’s kingdom.

So often in life, God’s beauty and majesty are revealed in small, little beginnings that are hidden and obscured, things and persons we take for granted without knowing it is in them and through them that God silently continues his works of wonder among us.

Such is the reality of Christ’s coming – then and now and in the end of time – as presented by Luke who began his account this Second Sunday of Advent with the introduction of John the Baptist.

“St. John the Baptist Preaching In the Wilderness” by Anton Raphael Mengs from en.wikipedia.org.

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 Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

Luke 3:1-2

Feel the solemnity of Luke’s report, so formal, evoking a sense of power and might, an air of superiority with all the trappings of those in the corridors of power in government and religion.

Then abruptly, he wrote tersely, “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert”. Boom! So simple yet elegantly emphatic.

Notice Luke’s artistry presenting a list of who’s who living in palaces and Temple with all the comfort and luxury available at that time when in a sudden shift, without losing the building up of the drama that led to the climax that is John “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths'” (Lk.3:3-4).

In introducing to us the person of John the Baptist which started in the very first chapter of his gospel, Luke is actually telling us how John was already the presence of Christ, that aside from being his precursor, he had Jesus in himself already! For Luke, John foreshadowed Christ’s work of salvation reaching its summit at Easter even while orienting us to Christmas.

The nearness of God

Every year, the second and third Sundays of Advent narrate the preaching and baptism by John the Baptist at Jordan to remind us how Jesus comes to us whenever, wherever the word of God is heard, accepted, and proclaimed that result into repentance and forgiveness of sins.

See how Luke shows us the overlapping of salvation history with our secular history, a clear indication of the presence and nearness of God with us in Christ’s coming. Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, and Lysania with the high priests Caiaphas and Ananias were true persons who have lived in a particular time and specific places when John and Jesus lived too.

Here we find so true that God works silently and subtly in Jesus in our own personal lives and in the whole world for indeed, he is the God of history.

Photo by author, Chapel at the Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 28 November 2021.

This Second Sunday of Advent we are assured of God’s nearness with us in Christ, especially when there are those darkness and obscurity, hiddenness and being unknown. These little and simple things in life are occasions where God reveals himself to us! Take them to heart.

Sometimes in life it is good to be down and even unknown, away from the limelight specially in this age of social media where everything even coffee breaks and new purchases or grades and medals of children are made known to everyone with much noise like blaring trumpets.

This boom in social media is so tiring and even disgusting with nothing hidden anymore, nothing is personal, and worst, nothing sacred any more! God and faith and sacraments have become commodities, persons are cheapened and used for personal advantages that even personal messages or PM’s have become “public happenings”. No more respect and dignity to others and most of all, unknown to those so immersed in the social media, they are the ones in the losing end, losing their very selves as they lose touch and grounding with reality.

Contrast it with John the Baptist in the desert with his balanced life between solitude and community and most of all, his rootedness in God and with realities of life that he can speak about the need for repentance to renew one’s self.

The gift of Advent

It can happen that when we are so filled with our selves, when we are so spread out feeling famous, “viral” and “trending” that we are also most empty and nothing like those powerful men mentioned by Luke, from the Roman emperor to the high priests; hence, the need to be hidden and unknown, little and small once in a while to allow enough room for changes and growth, and most especially to have a room within us for Jesus to work in us.

This is the gift of Advent Season: a time for us to be like John, to withdraw from the busy and toxic world so we may be alone and at home again with one’s true self, with loved ones, and with God in Jesus, through Jesus.

In the first reading we heard the end of a poem by Baruch where God consoles his people personified by Jerusalem, giving them hope of redemption someday from their Babylonian conquerors. It was the lowest point in the Jewish history when Jerusalem and their Temple were destroyed with the entire nation exiled to Babylon as slaves. No country, no Temple, so down and so small yet, God tells them:

Photo by author, Advent 2019.

Jerusalem take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor; you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Baruch 5:1-4

See the beautiful image of God taking possession of his people exiled and enslaved, changing their lot into something so wonderful filled with splendor!

The same thing happens with us when we are down and lost for that is when God doubles his efforts in finding us, redeeming us, uplifting us. It had happened before in the coming of his Son Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago which continues to happen now and would surely happen again in its fullness at his Parousia.

Nothing happens in life and in the world without God knowing even the minutest, single details we do not notice at all. Let us imitate the confidence of Paul this Season of Advent:

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6, 8
Photo by author, Advent 2020.

This Second Sunday of Advent we are told that even if we do not see Jesus like in the gospel of Luke when it is still concerned with the preaching of John the Baptist, he is already with us in those small and little sacrifices we do out of love for him.

Like John, Advent invites us to withdraw to the wilderness, to the desert to be hidden from the limelight to give God a space to come to us, to be present in us.

Like John, Advent invites us to empty ourselves of our pride and sins, to repent and be washed clean by God’s loving mercy and forgiveness to be filled with his humility, justice and love.

Like John, Advent wants us to be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: to be the voice of reason and faith in this noisy world of lies and superficialities; to make straight the path so bended with many excuses and alibis that have moved the lines of morality and propriety; to fill the valleys with sense and meaning; and, to make low every mountain and hill of human pride and arrogance that have left us more empty and lost than before.

Let us all be a John the Baptist, not only a precursor but also a presence of Jesus.

A blessed second week of Advent to everyone!

Panalangin sa Adbiento: Ihanda daraanan ng Panginoon

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-03 ng Disyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2018.
Kay sarap namnamin,
O Diyos Ama namin
paglalarawan ni San Lukas
ng panahon noong dumating 
si San Juan Bautista sa ilang
upang ihanda daraanan ng 
Panginoong darating:

Ikalabinlimang taon noon ng paghahari ni Emperador Tiberio. Si Poncio Pilato ang gobernador sa Judea, si Herodes ang tetrarka sa Galilea at ang kapatid naman niyang si Felipe, sa lupain ng Iturea at Traconite. Si Lisanias ang tetrarka sa Abilinia. Sina Anas at Caifas naman ang mga pinakapunong saserdote noon. Nang panahong iyon, nasa ilang si Juan na anak ni Zacarias. Dumating sa kanya ang salita ng Diyos…

Lucas 3:1-2
Dumating ka na sa amin, Panginoon,
sa panahong ito sa gitna ng social media
ng mga nakabibinging ingay 
at mga sari-saring tanawin sa amin ay
umaaliw ngunit madalas ay sagwil
upang Ika'y makita at maranasan 
kay Hesus na palaging dumarating
sa gitna ng kasaysayan ng daigdig
maging sa sariling buhay namin.
Nawa matularan namin si Juan Bautista
upang ilang ay puntahan, maglaan ng
panahon ng pananahimik upang 
Iyong mga salita ay mapakinggan at
mapagnilayan, maranasan pananahan
Mo sa amin kay Kristo.
Itulot po ninyo, O Diyos,
sa liwanag ng Espiritu Santo
aming matularan si Juan doon sa ilang
aming maisigaw upang umalingawngaw 
sa mundong nagbibingi-bingihan  
sa Iyong mga panawagan na tuwirin
aming landas ng pamumuhay:
nawa'y masaid namin aming puso
at kalooban ng aming kapalaluan
at mga kasalanan upang mapunan
ng Iyong kababaang-loob, pag-ibig
at katarungan;
katulad ni Juan ay maging tinig nawa kami
ng katotohanan sa gitna ng pagpipilit ng
marami na bigyang katuwiran mga 
kasinungalingan at kasalaulaan;
tambakan nawa namin bawat lambak
ng kababawan at kawalan ng kabuluhan
ng katuturan at kahulugan kay Kristo 
lamang matatagpuan;
at higit sa lahat, nawa aming matibag
sa mabubuting gawa at halimbawa
mga bundok at burol ng aming
kayabangan at katanyagan,
maalis aming mga tarpaulin at ilawan
at tanging ikaw lamang O Diyos
ang aming matanawan, sundan,
at paglingkuran magpasawalang-
hanggan.  Amen.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Adbiento 2020.

Advent is being at home – with self, with others, and with God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest, 03 December 2021
Isaiah 29:17-24   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 9:27-31
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2020.
Your words today, O God,
are so Fatherly - comforting
and reassuring of your great
promises of redemption and
liberation from sin and miseries; 
your words are so "homey" too - 
help us this Season of Advent to find 
our way back home to you, O loving
God our Father!
Inasmuch as your words today
also speak of seeing and hearing,
make us feel at home first with
our very selves, to be at home with
who we really are, especially with our
past that no matter how dark or
painful life may have been, we are loved
most specially by you - no ifs, no buts.
Bring us home to you, Father, free from
any shame at who we really are!

Thus says the Lord God: but a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard shall be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and our of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale.

Isaiah 29:17-19, 22
I wonder, Lord, how so often
I feel one of those two blind men
who have followed you into your 
house - of how you first lead me into you,
into your presence, into your love 
and mercy and forgiveness before 
you make me see and hear again.
Thank you dear Jesus for always
coming to us even if so many times
we do not see nor notice you passing by
especially through others; grant us the 
zeal of St. Francis Xavier in reaching out
to others specially this season amid the
pandemic; may we try to see you among
one another as we listen to each one's
cries of pains and joys.
Most specially, let us keep our eyes
and ears and hearts open like St. Francis
Xavier who always believed in your
presence and providence even in the most
difficult and alienating situations
in life because he has always been
at home with you.  Amen.

True discipleship

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the First Week of Advent, 02 December 2021
Isaiah 26:1-6   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, 2018.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord. Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heave, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21
Dearest Jesus,
how must I call out to you?
Not merely with my lips and mouth
but most specially with my heart
and soul as I stretch my arms, 
reaching out to others with my hands!
Thank you for the reminder, Lord;
calling you "Lord" is not enough
if we do not surrender our very selves
to you, if we do not trust in you;
to call on you Lord is to "open up the
gates to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith" (Isaiah 26:2).
Help us to build our house on rock, 
one that is built upon you and identifies
with you like a "strong city with walls 
and ramparts to protect us"; let us trust
only in you, Jesus, by putting into
action our prayers, witnessing to your
words and teachings for you alone is
the everlasting rock!
True discipleship in you, dear Jesus
is believing in you, trusting in you
alone... not in one's self and abilities,
nor follies.  Amen.

Our God of abundance

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Advent, 01 December 2021
Isaiah 25:6-10   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 15:29-37
Photo by author, Dampa in Pasay City, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
our loving God and Father,
for the abundant blessings 
you have bestowed upon us
this 2021 even in the midst of
many sufferings brought by
the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we look back to the past 
eleven months and see how far
we have come to this first day
of the merry month of December,
one thing remains clear:  you are 
a God of abundance, you always
have so many things in store for each
one of us but unfortunately we always
fail to see or even recognize them at all;
worst, with your abundant blessings, 
we are always in need with our mentality
so focused on scarcity.
The problem is with us, dear God;
your promise to Isaiah to feast us 
on "juicy, rich food" and "pure, 
choice wines" have long been fulfilled
in the coming of Jesus Christ your
Son who comes in every here and now
and would surely come again
at the end of time.
Destroy the "veil that veils" us and 
the "web that is woven over" us
so we may find Jesus silently and 
subtly working among us, right in our
midst; let us believe so we may see him
to enjoy your abundant blessings found
in him in the first place!

The disciples said to him, “where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”

Matthew 15:33-34
Come, Lord Jesus, fill us with
your presence and peace and grace, 
most specially with your pity
and mercy for those in need
so that we may find the abundance
we have always have in you.  
Amen.

Remembering our “fishers of men”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, 30 November 2021
Romans 10:9-18   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 4:18-22
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
On this Feast of your "Protokletos" or
your "first to be called" as Apostle, I pray
Lord Jesus, for the many other St. Andrew
who have led me to you to be your disciple.
How beautiful it is to recall from the 
fourth gospel how St. Andrew was
originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist
but when he met you on your baptism,
he dared asked you where you stayed;
and when you told him to "come and see",
the next thing we are told he called his
elder brother Simon, telling him how he 
had seen the Messiah and brought him to you.
My coming and seeing you, and following
you, dear Jesus, happened through the men 
and women you have earlier called to be fishers 
of men to call me too with their kindness and 
witnessing to your gospel:  my former teachers,
the many priests who have inspired me with
their ministry and friendships, the nuns who 
nurtured my vocation in elementary, the many
other dedicated men and women of faith
whose lives with their encouraging conversations 
and affirmations have inspired me 
to seek and follow you more, Lord.
Hence, on this day, I pray also for deeper faith,
livelier hope and more infectious love from you,
Lord Jesus, that I may also be like St. Andrew,
a fisher of men and women who would bring 
people closer to you in the service of the Church
and for the poor and needy. 

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?

Romans 10:14-15
Here I am, Lord; send me!
Amen.

Making the Kingdom a reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the First Week of Advent, 29 November 2021
Isaiah 2:1-5   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 8:5-11
Photo by author, Basic Education Department Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, 28 November 2021.
Praise and glory to you,
loving God our Father in heaven
in giving us your beloved Son
Jesus Christ who had come, 
now comes, and would come again
at the end of time.
In him you have fulfilled your promised
liberation and establishment of a "temple
as the highest mountain and raised above
the hills" where "all nations shall stream
toward it and many peoples shall come"
(Isaiah 2:2-3) to worship you and follow
your path.

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:5
As Christians, we still have a lot
of work to do to bring the spirit of 
Jesus Christ and his Gospel into the
world to make this more humane, 
where peace and justice reign; 
remind us that Christmas is more
than mere celebrations and parties
or shopping and gift-giving.
In this Season of Advent, teach us to
reflect on the real meaning of your
coming, dear God, in Jesus who became
human like us to live and work among us;
Christ has not failed in his mission -- it is
us who have done so little to carry on,
to continue what he had began like bringing
healing and comfort to those afflicted and
suffering, joy and forgiveness to those losing
hope in the face of many sins and evil.
It is true, O Lord, that "we are not worthy to
have you enter under my roof but only say 
the word and we shall be healed" (Matthew
8:8); let us listen and respond to your 
invitation and calls, Jesus, filled with faith like
that centurion so that eventually, your Kingdom
may become a full reality among us.  Amen.

“Hey Look At the Sun” by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’77 (1973)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 28 November 2021
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Galilee, Israel, 2017.

A blessed happy New Year, everyone!

It is the first Sunday of Advent, the start of another year in our Church calendar as we officially prepare for the coming Christmas these next four Sundays. And that is why we have chosen this 1973 music by Sergio Mendes and his Brasil ’77 for this Sunday, “Hey, Look At the Sun”.

From their third studio album called “Love Music”, Hey Look At The Sun sounds so personal with that Hey! – which is close with the spirit of Advent when Jesus calls us to be vigilant for his Second Coming (https://lordmychef.com/2021/11/27/beginning-with-the-end-in-sight/).

Sometimes I wonder if sunrise happens only once or twice a year, maybe every nation would stop and pause on those days so that everybody could see the beauty and charm of life every morning brings with the rising of the sun.

It is my favorite time of the day, of catching the rising sun that makes me feel so alive.

And so loved.

all of my life
there were things i wanted to do
but they all change the moment i set my eyes on you
the magnet is on that attracted me to you
there’s something inside i just can’t explain
but now i know what i must do

hey look at the sun
it’s fin’lly shining on my life
shining on my life
and it’s because of you
it’s finally shining on my life
for me and for you

Sergio Mendes and his lovely singers were suave and sophisticated, so to speak. Their songs are very inviting and melodious as they fused bossa nova with jazz and funk. Most of all, their lyrics – even the ones they covered – always touched on the human experience of love.

In Hey Look At the Sun composed by Nelson Angelo which was covered a decade ago by local artist Sitti, the main character speaks of how everything changed in her life after discovering love in a man who suddenly came to her life. Everything changes in our lives when we love and when we are loved.

This is the reason Jesus tells us in the gospel this Sunday to “beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties daily life” today along with St. Paul in the Second reading” (Lk.21:34), meaning, to love more the other person not only our very selves focused on material things.

To wait for his Second Coming at the end of time means to remain in loving service for one another; hence, the need for us to change our ways to rediscover love by rediscovering the next person to us as brothers and sisters in Jesus.

all of my life i’ve wondered round time and again
but i’ve never thought that i am searching with to an end
and then you came along
and my world of love began
so now i’m gonna change my ways
you’re all i want
you’re all i need

hey look at the sun
it’s fin’lly shining on my life
shining on my life
and it’s all because of you
it’s fin’lly shining on my life
for me and for you

A blessed week ahead of everyone!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com

Advent is beginning with the end in sight

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday of Advent-C, 28 November 2021
Jeremiah 33:14-16 ><}}}*> 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 ><}}}*> Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, 2019.

Blessed happy New Year, everyone!

Today we are celebrating a new calendar year in the Church with this First Sunday of Advent. From the Latin word adventus meaning arrival or coming, it was adapted by the early Christians from the Roman practice of preparing for the visits or assumption to power of their emperors then considered as “gods”.

It is most fitting that we prepare not only outside but most especially inside our very selves for the coming of the true God and King of kings, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

Hence, Advent not only opens but also defines our whole liturgical year that is centered on Christ who has come, who comes now and will come again in the end of time. This is the reason why our gospel this Sunday is looking towards the end of time at the beginning of our Church calendar.

The three comings of Jesus Christ

Advent has two aspects: beginning today the First Sunday of Advent until December 16, all readings and prayers are oriented towards the Second Coming of Christ; from December 17 to the evening of the 24th, our focus shifts to the first coming of Jesus at Christmas.

Between these two comings of Jesus that the Season of Advent reminds us is what St. Bernard of Clairvaux called as the Lord’s “third coming” – his coming everyday into our lives, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist.

Photo by author, 2019.

Again we find that tension of his being here but not yet. It is in that between his first coming more than 2000 years ago and his Second Coming which no one knows exactly when where we are situated daily, making everyday Christ’s Advent.

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Luke 21:27-28

It may sound frightening to hear Jesus spoke of the signs of his coming but at closer look and reflections, we find it filled with joy because our redemption is at hand!

Yes, every ending forebodes destruction and passing of the old but that is in order to give way to something new, something better which Jesus had promised his disciples then and us now.

The grace of this season of Advent is the reawakening of our hope in the salvation that has already come in Jesus, who still comes now, and will surely come again in the end of time which is happening in every here and now.

That is why, there is also the sense of urgency and vigilance this Advent.

We are already living in the end-time Jesus had predicted as we have seen in the wars and conflicts going on among nations, the natural calamities happening around the globe made worst by the climate change plus this pandemic we are now having. But, it does not mean the creation will end soon as portrayed in many Hollywood films because these signs are calls for us to be ready and prepared for the final end that will prelude the new beginnings of all.

The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah… In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice.”

Jeremiah 33:14, 16
Photo by author, 2018.

Meeting Jesus in Advent

Notice how Jeremiah’s prophecy so “pregnant” with meanings: more than the coming of the promised Messiah is the radical newness of the whole creation. Judah and Jerusalem, the main province and city of Israel at that time will be transformed, referring to John’s vision in the Book of Revelation of “new heaven and new earth”.

As we have said, Advent not only opens our liturgical calendar but also defines the whole year which is the daily coming of Jesus who had come over 2000 years ago and will come again at the end of time which nobody knows.

Meanwhile, in this “third coming” of Jesus everyday, we find God working in him silently and subtly in the human history and right in our individual lives.

It is in our faithful waiting when Jesus Christ comes. It is the beauty and joy expressed by Jeremiah’s words “the days are coming” that assure us no matter how dark and bleak are our days, despite all the destructions and even death around us, the days are coming when we see everything getting better because God never stops working in our midst in Jesus, the Emmanuel.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:34-36

Last Sunday in our celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King we have reflected how Jesus spoke of the “truth” of his kingdom being among us, of how he had made us into his kingdom which is the reason why he was born and came into the world to testify to this truth (Jn.18:37).

See now the clearer picture of our life, of our time: we start our Church calendar preparing for the coming of Jesus our King and we end every year with the celebration of Christ the King. And we begin each new year with the end in sight of his Second Coming.

On this season of Advent, we are reminded how in our joyful waiting through prayers especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that Christ’s presence is little by little being unveiled, unfolding before us, and being revealed.

It is a call for us of deepening our prayer life to truly experience Christ’s coming in our daily life. This new year in the Church, St. Luke will be our guide in our Sunday readings during the Ordinary Time; one distinction of his gospel is his portrayal of Jesus in prayer always.

Jesus comes to us first of all when we pray, when we enter into communion with him, when we listen to his voice and follow his instructions. In prayer, we are filled with God, allowing him to work his wonders in us and through us and thus make Christ’s coming a daily reality.

That is how prayer truly leads to holiness: when we are filled with God, our prayers are translated into a life of kindness and acceptance, mercy and forgiveness and most of all, of loving service to one another especially those in need.

There will always be sins and shortcomings on our part but in prayers and vigilance, we slowly “increase and abound in love for one another… strengthening our hearts to be blameless before our God our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. (1 Thess. 3:12,13)

A blessed happy new year again and a more blessed first week of Advent to you!