A New Exodus
2nd Sunday of Advent

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The readings this Sunday resonate with people who have experienced being driven away from their homes by disasters such as floods and war. As refugees, they had lived in evacuation centers or with relatives. They longed to go back home. A common sight these past few years was that of people with their precious belongings marching back home. They had to rebuild and start all over again, but at least they were going home.

This imagery of going back home prevails in all the readings of this second Sunday of Advent. The writer of the book of Baruch encouraged his contemporaries who were dispersed by religious persecutions to “stand upon the heights and look to the East.” The image of the coming of the new day is a message of hope. They may have been “led away on foot by their enemies” (captives and exiles) but God will bring them back to their land “borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones” (Baruch 5: 6).

In the second reading, the same message of hope is given by Paul as he affectionately encouraged his favorite Christian community in Philippi to persevere in faith and love, “God knows how much I miss you all, loving you as Christ Jesus loves you. My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best” (Phil. 1:8).

The Gospel contains the famous description of John the Baptist, “A voice of one crying out in the desert:’Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’.” (Luke 3:4). The coming of the messiah is the beginning of a new exodus. People are to go back to their homes (God’s kingdom itself). This necessitates a change of heart. We have to realize where our true home is and recognize the requirements of citizenship in that new land.

People who go back home after a long exile have the feelings of both anxiety and joy. There is joy in the anticipation of meeting their loved ones. There is also the worry that one may not be able to cope with the changes of living in a new environment. Will I be accepted? Will I succeed? There are adjustments to be made, especially if someone has lived in a foreign culture for so long. What really gives assurance is that one is a member of the family or the clan, no matter what.

Advent is the time to go home - literally and figuratively. For many Filipinos who are living away from home, this is a time for family reunions. This is the time to renew familial bonds. This is a time of reconciliation and forgiveness.

This is also the time to go back to the “home of the Father.” God is waiting for us. God is a forgiving God and it gives Him joy to see us back in the family.

Those who have been following the news the past week, may be feeling the frustrations and disapointments brought about by recent events. The politicians have filed their certificates of candidacy. There are old faces and new faces but the biggest surprise is that our our incumbent President of the Republic is running for Congress. It is mind-blowing.

We are also still awaiting further developments in the case of the Maguindanao massacre as it progresses so slowly.

Action starter: Be people of the light.

Signs of the dawn are appearing in the horizon, though. A young man, Efren Penaflorida was given the CNN award for Hero of the Year for his passion in educating street-children by brining them books in his pushcart. Men and women of principles and integrity have decided to join the political arena in order to make a difference. Our compatriots abroad are continuing to work hard to make life better for their loved ones left here in the Philippines. There are good men and women in every nook and corner of this land who are keeping high the flame of hope and who are marching in a new exodus.