What are you preparing for?

Second Sunday in Advent C 2012

Fr. Leonard Oakes

 What are you preparing for?

The popular Filipino Boxer Manny Pacman Pacquiao may have surely learned this time that in everything, preparation and not over confidence is needed to win a fight. For those who still cannot believe Manny lost, get over it and learn that we are now entering into the season of preparing ourselves for the coming of the birth of Christ, the Santo Nino in our lives.

One of the important lessons I learned when travelling to another country especially if it is more than one week, is to make sure you have everything packed. It is used to be that my wife Haidee would prepare all my travel needs. She in fact offered to do it for me but I wanted to show her that I can do it. The next thing I found was I was missing a lot of stuff such as socks, underwear, hygiene kits. I had more sweaters than shirts which I didn’t get to use because it was warm and humid in most places we’ve been in the Philippines. So I bought things in the Philippines out of necessity.

Preparation cannot be done quickly and sloppy, it has to be planned ahead with sound decisions and constant checking with a list. One cannot be over confident that he has it all otherwise he will find things to be costly.

When I arrived home from a two week vacation in the Philippines, I noticed the cleanliness and well organized settings inside our house. The tables are cleared from clutters, the sofas are rearranged, the bed is well presented so that when I started to unpack my travelling bags and placed some of my things in the table, my wife was quick to say, “no, no, no, don’t put your things on the table, we have to start our new year with a clean and organized home.” I thought about that to be neat and true, don’t you agree? We should prepare for our new year with a life free from so much clutters and mess.

Last Sunday, we learned from Mrs. Marietta Flores that Advent is a time for waiting, waiting for the birth of Christ in our lives. Waiting and Preparation are two things that go together in this season of Advent. You see, things are changing and seasons are rotating, but as they rotate, change comes with it, change that renews the face of our being. We started our new year with winter where everything slows down. It is about time to unpack our troubles and worries in life and just go slow but prepared for the coming of a new day in our lives. It is time to rest and be reenergized and prepare for another wonderful year to travel. When spring comes, we shall begin to grow a new life, so fresh and renewed and ready to have a full bloom in summer until the cycle begins anew.

Advent is a time for waiting with much anticipation for the celebration of the birth of Christ in our lives, our family, our community and the world. It is also a time to prepare for a new miracle that is being brought by the birth of Christ. We shall not be caught unaware but prepared and ready to embrace those changes that will make us worthy in the eyes of God.

We must always be ready to reveal the miracles of the love of God in this community. We have been keeping our voices low for sometimes. Just like Zechariah in our Old Testament reading, who was serving in the Temple when an angel appeared to him and said his wife would have a baby who would prepare the way for the messiah and that he would be called John. But because Zechariah didn’t believe the angel (for his wife is already old and many years post menopause) (At least not men oppose), the angel then said to Zechariah that he would not be able to speak until all that had taken place. So for nine months, he was unable to talk until his wife Elizabeth had the baby. Imagine yourself not being able to say a word for nine months? I know some people who would explode if it happened to them.

When Manny Pacqiao was knocked out, his fans were silenced for a long minute. Then with disbelief, they started to make comments, both negative and positive. “Kunak tu met nga saan nga bira nga bira.” “I told him not to keep punching without planning.” Others would say, “He will come back next time with a perfect plan.”

If you were told to shut for nine month, what would you say once you could speak? Would you have a list of smart remarks and comments to make? Would you have a list of opinions to express? Would you complain that you’re tired of being told on what to do? Of all the things that Zechariah could have said, he praised God for sending a Savior. He opened his lips and told everyone that God was sending light into the darkness. He broke the silence by proclaiming the grace and salvation of God.

Like Zechariah, it’s about time to open our lips and praise God for the gift of our salvation.

It is time for us to break the silence. The world needs to see the light of God in Christ. But too many people lose the real light of Christ in the artificial Christmas lights. They miss the gift of love and life from God in the rush to get the perfect gift for that someone. They lose the manger and the baby in all the other decorations of the season. The real meaning of Christmas is being camouflaged with commercial sales. We who see the real meaning of the season need to say something!

We have some help in breaking the silence. Zechariah had an angel to help him see it and tell others. But we have the genuine article! Jesus the light of the world dwells in us. He will enable us to tell the world.

Our seniors and the ECW are planning to have a Friday evening soup for the community. Inviting the poor and less fortunate in the community to simply come and enjoy a hot soup and some bread and entertainment. Many from the community are not able to eat good meals a day because they are tightening their belts from unemployment and other reasons.

Last Wednesday night, a group of health professionals gathered at the Church hall to give birth to the realization of our health and wellness volunteer program. These wonderful Doctors, Registered Nurses, LVN, Senior Living Administrators, CNA and others do know the meaning of the birth of Christ in this community by offering their time and talents to reach out to the least of God’s people, the uninsured, the less fortunate; by offering free blood pressure check up, health education, referral program and other health needs these poor people cannot afford or able to benefit due to financial and other reasons.

We are all part of the blessing. You and I, young and old are part of this calling. Beginning this week, our trained professionals will put flyers and brochures together and be ready for distribution in preparation for a health fair on January 29, 2013.  I call upon us all to put on our cloak, wear the sandal of Christ and be ready to go house to house, community to community, bus to bus, in every grocery store and food court, from car to cars and tell the people that we are here with loving arms to embrace the season and the new year with care and service through our health and wellness program.

This Friday, a concert is set to benefit our Santo Nino Stained Glass window project. Invite others and share them the miracle our Santo Nino brought to this Church and the Community. In this coming Sunday also, we will dedicate and unveil the santo nino stained glass project. Our loving and wonderful Lyle Richardson came all the way from Florida to be with us on this occasion. Let us give him a big round of applause. I invite you all to come and be part of that miracle. It is free for all.

What does the Lord require of you? To wait patiently, prepare to welcome the Love of God through Jesus Christ and be of service to those of the least of your brothers and sisters, whoever and wherever they may be. That is the message I would like us all to keep in heart this season. Even when we think we don’t have enough to share, even when we are a mission station struggling for our own needs, we are still blessed by God, for God is for us, God is with us and He will not abandon us even to the end of the world. So let us give praise and thanks to God our creator and provider. Amen.