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Advent: Transcending the Ordinary

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

It is amazing how time flies! Watching “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” I realized that the movie is already the 9th episode of the series. Where did all those years go? Not to spoil those who wish to watch it for later, we assume that other than "Star Wars" that it already is as a household name, we look forward to discover the twists and turn of the story, right? Who’s who and how will all this drama unfold and finally put to end? Remember the time when we gasped knowing that Luke Skywalker was Darth Vader’s son or that Princess Leia (Luke’s twin sister and so daughter to Darth Vader) and Hans Solo bore a son – a Darth Vader fanatic and wannabee! But on top of it all, it was all about a constant search for one’s true identity! A constant search to see one’s place in the over-all drama that is Star Wars! Regardless of lineage, it was their choices that defined them Skywalker, Palpatine or whatnot.

We are now in the last Sunday of Advent. On Wednesday, Dec. 25, we will begin a new liturgical season. For four Sundays now, we have been called to condition ourselves to be receptive to Him. More importantly, we have been deeply encouraged to discover the very Person of Jesus, who is our messiah, the Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” He is coming to give us a fresh beginning and a new hope. Whether we like it or not, He is coming. The whole Christian world is preparing for the celebration of His birth. It is just a matter of days now. We must go beyond our sufferings so that we will not miss the action when He comes. We must be ready to truly open our hearts to welcome Him into our lives.

This Sunday’s readings call us to transcend. We are called to go beyond our woundedness in order to move forward. We include our imaginings, theologies, ideologies, idiosyncrasies, possessions and fixations, which can all be part of our humanity. We are called to go beyond what we know at the surface … what is at the periphery. To deepen our searching to see the real Jesus.

1. The First Reading, from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, tells us about the prophet Isaiah being sent to King Ahaz to rouse him to ask for a sign from God. God is willing to save his endangered kingdom, for then the Assyrians are ready to invade his kingdom. The King of Judah refuses to entertain God saying, "I will not tempt the Lord!" His mind is clouded with politics and his own security plans. He cannot see that God can do something for him and for his people. But God overrules the snobbish king. God is in-charge. The child is a sign of God’s presence. If God is present and is with us, there is hope.

2. In the Second Reading, Paul recalls how God has fulfilled his promise through the prophets of old, which is “the Gospel about His Son.” Paul attests that he deeply appreciates his faith in the Risen Lord, which he has received as a gift. A gift he received on the road to Damascus and is now the number one proclaimer of the Gospel among the Gentiles from being a persecutor. Because of this, Paul was able to overcome unfamiliar grounds in the mission areas, make giant leaps of faith and share them with his disciples.


The Rise of Skywalker

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3. The Gospel Reading, we hear the very familiar narrative about St. Joseph (narrated also during the 3rd day of the novena leading to Christmas). How a simple Jew in the countryside, was called to transcend his established beliefs. He was asked to marry a woman already with a child in her womb. As a righteous man, he would not dare live with a pregnant woman and whom he had no relations with.

Some interesting points to ponder about St. Joseph:

  1. Joseph loved Mary so much. Though may have changed his mind given the dream, but still Joseph is free to choose what he wishes and his love for Mary overtook his personal desires.
  2. He knew that his family will be put in shame given Mary’s condition. Probably one of the reasons why they were no welcome in the inns during Mary’s time of labor. But Joseph was not selfish, over family’s reputation, he puts God’s irrefutable intervention above anything else.
  3. As a righteous man, he did not consider the law to the letter at this very moment. For Joseph, the law relaxes when it is already a matter of God’s will.

It was a few days before Christmas. A woman woke up one morning and told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?” “Oh,” her husband replied, “you’ll know the day after tomorrow.” The next morning, she turned to her husband again and said she had the same dream and received the same reply. On the third morning, the woman woke up and smiled at her husband, “I just dreamed again that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?” And he smiled back, “You’ll know tonight.” That evening, the man came home with a small package and presented it to his wife. She was delighted. She opened it gently. And when she did, she found—a book! And the book’s title was The Meaning of Dreams. Today’s Gospel tells us how Joseph had a dream and how he reacted to it. (Rev Samuel Candler).

This Sunday, as we have journeyed through our personal discovery of Jesus in our lives seeking His true face, we are also called to transcend our own personal beliefs, traditions, and learnings in order to move on. Faith is a dynamic search on how best we could respond to God’s call at a given time. Much more, we cannot move forward to contribute something for the salvation of mankind, if we cannot transcend our countless disappointments, frustrations and setbacks. Rather, we should bank on the better future promised by God. A kingdom, He alone can offer beyond any organized or established “kingdoms” that the world offer.

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