Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Sense of Urgency in our Advent Prayer

The Carpenters have a beautiful song which was recently used as title for a movie: “I wont last a day without you.” The refrain goes: When there’s no getting over that rainbow; when my smallest of dreams wont come true, I can take all the madness the world has to give, but I wont last a day without you.” Romantic as it seems but the song reflects the sentiments of the Prophet Isaiah which sets the mood of the Advent Season we begin today. The prophet laments: Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? He laments that God has hidden his face and that he has every right to do so for “you are angry and we are sinful, all of us have become like unclean people, all our deeds are like polluted rags, we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind.” And because God has hidden his face, no one calls upon his name and none clings to him. Because of this, we have become even poorer, because we do not know what we are missing: You Lord are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. “No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.”

Advent is once again upon us and unfortunately, it does not seems to have much impact upon our lives. Well, of course, there is that anticipation for the coming holidays with much gift, food, and merrimaking to expect. But the idea of waiting for the Lord’s return, which is the real spirit of Advent, seems lost to us. No longer to we see ourselves in the shoes of the gatekeeper whose task is to be on the watrch for the coming of the lord of the house. Nostalgic Christimas songs like Pasko na Sinta ko speak of a longing for a loved one who might be anyone, a spouse, a girl friend, anyone but the Lord. The holidays become very sentimental on account of the absence of people we love, but seldom on account of the absence of God. The Lord is definitely not sorely missed.

He is not sorely missed because we think that we can live without him. We presume that we can last a day without him. But that is not true for the Prophet Isaiah says: O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. Even if you look through the paradigm of master and servant, as shown in the gospel, we still cannot miss the relationship of absolute dependence which we have with the Lord. The servant is dependent on his master for his livelihood. The clay is dependent on his potter for his existence. The child is dependent on his father for everything. In other words, “I wont last a day without you” is first and foremost true between the Lord and our selves.

And that is why we wait for his return. We watch for his coming. Although he is long delayed in coming, we still light our lamps and watch for his return. We patiently do so because the Lord Jesus has promised to return. And we hold on to his promise because “God is faithful.” And we are sure of his fidelity. But can we be sure of ours? We know how fragile our fidelity is. We know how easily we are swayed to mediocrity and compromises. It is on account of our awareness of our inclination to infidelity that we pray to the Lord with a certain sense of urgency: Return for the sake of your servants…Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down! Please Lord, return while we are still faithful. Return while we are still awake lest we drowse into sleep and be caught unprepared when you come.

St. Faustina wrote in her diary: “I am reliving these moments with Our Lady. With great longing, I am waiting for the Lord’s coming. Great are my desires. I desire that all humankind come to know the Lord. I would like to prepare all nations for the coming of the Word Incarnate. O Jesus, make the fount of your mercy gush forth more abundantly, for mankind is seriously ill and thus has more need than ever of your compassion. You are a bottomless sea of mercy for us sinners; and the greater the misery, the more right we have to your mercy. You are a fount that makes all creatures happy by your infinite mercy. (Diary, 793.)

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