December 2, 2018: First Sunday of Advent - Associate Pastor’s Corner
Take a stand.
Advent is a season of attentive waiting. This isn’t the kind of waiting we do at the supermarket, the retail store, or at the DMV. Advent waiting is attentive, it is active; it is a waiting that which is ready for action.
Liturgically, Catholics (and our Orthodox brethren as well) stand up in order to symbolize attentive waiting. This is precisely why we stand as we welcome the priest at the beginning of liturgy (the priest being alter-Christus, another Christ), in preparation for the Gospel (where we welcome the words of Christ), when we recite together the Lord’s Prayer (reciting together an anthem of our faith), and at the end of the Mass (where we take in our marching orders and prepare to encounter the world at the Lord’s command). We stand in order to actively listen to He Who Calls.
Contemplate the opposite. When we sit, we are simply more prone to distraction. It’s a more relaxed position. This is a position in which we are more likely recreating with friends, when we are reading a book, watching a movie, worrying about family or situations. Sitting allows us to be more relaxed, more passive, less focused. Oftentimes, when we are on a phone call, you would have to tell the person on the other end that you are walking or in an otherwise active position. Why? Because the default situation for receiving a phone call is seated.
Yet when we are in a crowded room and we stand up, we are making a statement—we demand attention. I’m reminded of 1989’s Dead Poet’s Society, where (spoiler alert) the students stand atop their desks to honor Professor Keating’s views and teachings, a clear protest of establishment’s actions against him.
Standing is attentive, it is active, it is ready. When we stand, we are making a statement either for or against that which is in front of us.
These Advent days, we are making a statement. We are standing in active, attentive waiting for the coming of Christ.
In the first seventeen days, we contemplate the Lord’s Glorious & Triumphant Second Coming, the Great Day in which the enemy, Sin & Death, is finally put to death. Creation is made new. Everything is put in right order. Orphans and widows are cared for, the poor are clothed and fed, justice and peace reigns. The Christian people actively await the Second Coming of Christ.
Then in the second half of Advent, we attentively contemplate the First Coming of the Messiah. We read and pray through the first chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. We meditate on the first chapter of the Gospel of John. We pray the Joyful Mysteries. We go to Confession. We attend Posadas, and partake of the Filipino Christmas Novena of Masses throughout the Deanery (also known as Simbang Gabi). These aren’t simply things that we passively “do,” they are participating activities that spiritually transport us to those poignant moments leading to the birthday of Christ the Newborn King.
In this frantic time leading to Christmas Day, the Lord calls us to actively contemplate. He calls us to take a stand against the frenetic pace of December. May we do our best to contemplate the very crux of our faith, the Incarnation of the Son of God. Take this sacred time to be vigilant in our prayer, intentional in our penances, active in seeking the Lord’s Face.
Take a stand.
Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P.