We are a people of dialogue. As such we have the moral obligation to search for the truth in freedom, the truth about God, about life, about ourselves, our country, our society, our world and the events around us.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Message for Advent 2005

Restoring the Filipino nation with Jesus in our hearts

Advent is upon us. With this Sunday begins a season of waiting for the birth of our Savior. Far from being a period of refreshing memories of Christmases past, Advent gently reminds us that God took flesh in Jesus Christ through Mary and came to live among us humans on earth. More than just being a fact of history that is celebrated year after year, His birth is a way of salvation meant to realize God’s dream for us and the world.

Our Savior was born in the dark of night. Now, the season of waiting, we Filipinos also wait in the dark, so to speak. In this darkness, we hear strange noises and loud voices saying that our country’s situation is hopeless. We hear that we are led by blind leaders; that we are crippled by dysfunctional politics; that we are held in bondage by our materialism; that we are imprisoned in ignorance and poverty; that we are rendered Godless by our immorality. We are told that we are a hopeless case.

But are we, really? What are we called Christians for if we will accept this hopelessness without question?

Why do we light a parol, “the Star of Hope” in our homes if this can not enkindle in our hearts the hope that the coming of the Savior brings? If the star led the three hopeful wise men through the dark desert to the Child Jesus in the manger; may not our parol make us also look forward and move forward to a future made luminous by the presence of Jesus in our midst?

During Simbang Gabi, why do we wake up at dawn and brave the chill to go and hear Mass if not to fuse memory and hope in preparation for His birth? Why do we celebrate His birth if this does not lead us to desire and welcome His birth in our hearts as well?

In Advent, waiting is also welcoming. We wait and welcome God’s offer of salvation to us by preparing a room for our Savior in our hearts where the change from darkness to light begins. Jesus born and alive in our hearts is what will transform us into a people of light. Enlightened by Jesus Christ we will reconcile with God and neighbor, restore peace and order in our communities, and rebuild a nation that is free of corruption and Godlessness.

We hold on to hope, sustained by St. Paul’s words to the Colossians: “God willed to make known to them the riches and even the glory that His mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations: Christ in you and the hope of God’s glory.” (Col. 1:27)

May Mary, a woman of hope, be our model and inspiration as we wait to welcome the arrival of Jesus our Savior in our land!

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
27 November 2005