Waiting in hope, peace, joy and love—not in fear and anxiety
“Tiene usted la eternidad para descansar (You have eternity in which to rest)” is a line attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J. the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Almost 20 ago, I made a small poster of this and placed it beside the photo of Fr. Arrupe praying.
Every time people commented on how busy work was, I would tease them by smiling, raising the frame with the poster and saying, “Tiene usted la eternidad para descansar.”
“Be watchful! Be alert!” This line from today’s Gospel sums up one of the major themes of Advent, a period of waiting and of expectant longing. It is waiting in hope, peace, joy and love, and not waiting in fear and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are responses to the unknown or experiences that remind us of our traumas. The waiting of Advent is waiting for someone we don’t just know, but know intimately and love dearly. Thus, it is a waiting with excitement for someone dear to us who promised to come back.
There is a Filipino liturgical song that captures the spirit beautifully: “Panginoon, hanggang kailan kami sa Iyo’y maghihintay? Halika na, magbalik ka, pangako Mo’y tupdin Mo na (Until when, O Lord, will we wait for you? Come now, come back and fulfill your promise).”
We wait in hope, peace, joy and love because of Christ’s promise. At the same time, we invite Christ to come or, maybe much more than this, we collect on his promise by saying, “Come now, we are ready.”
This is the waiting of Advent I propose for your reflection: waiting for Christ after inviting him to come because we are ready.
Two points to add to this. One is the traditional concept of waiting for the second coming of Christ. Two is Fr. Arrupe’s “You have eternity in which to rest.”
The second coming in the Jewish tradition is the Day of the Lord when he will come with all his might and power to renew (or cleanse) everything and establish his reign. It gives us a sense of deus ex machina. This idea gave rise to many movements throughout history, people living in communes to wait for the second coming.
But Christ tells us that the Kingdom of God is in our midst. It is already present, but awaiting fulfillment.
Work with passion
It is this Kingdom of God being in our midst that gives us the inspiration that we “have eternity in which to rest,” and thus we work with passion and inspiration cum magna anima (with greatness of soul) to bring this Kingdom closer to its fulfillment.
Christ will not come again with a magic wand and make all things right and renewed. He will come, in the spirit of last Sunday’s Parable of the Final Judgment, to affirm those who served the marginalized and did good, and to call out to those who oppressed and did wrong.
He has empowered us to make his Kingdom present in our midst by choosing to serve God in love, and others with love and compassion, especially the marginalized.
How can we not work tirelessly for his Kingdom to come? Each act of kindness, compassion and love is an invitation for the Lord to come. It builds up his Kingdom in our midst, a world of justice, hope, peace, joy and love.
Let us begin this work as we enter the Advent Season, a Season of Grace reminding us that all we do now has meaning because we have, as the horizon of all our work and life, the eternity promised by God. –CONTRIBUTED
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