Advent, A Beginning

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

We are at the beginning of the liturgical calendar of the church. Contrary to what many people think, the liturgical calendar does not begin with the New Year in January. It begins with the First Sunday of Advent. The Sunday readings at the mass follow a three-year cycle, which means that after three years, the readings are repeated. The group of Sunday readings are described as Year A, B, and C. We are beginning Year B this Sunday.

The Latin word, adventus, means arrival. It refers not only to what has already arrived (a past event) but it also connotes what is yet to come (a future event). It therefore refers to an event in time. For us Christians, Advent specifically refers to that event when God entered human and cosmic history in Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. This entrance of Jesus Christ in human history made a difference. This difference is described by us Christians as “salvation”. Advent is also a season that reminds us that history will reach its pinnacle on the day that Jesus will come again. When and how this will happen we cannot exactly know or describe, but we have to be ready. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus cautions us, “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come. (Mk. 13:33)”

For our reflections this Sunday, I propose that for the believer in Jesus, time contains an element of hope. Let us illustrate this with the experience of waiting for a bus. In the Philippines there are two kinds of transportation, those that leave exactly on the scheduled time and those that do not. The first kind is usually found in cities and follow a regular schedule. The second kind is found in the rural areas and leave when it is full. In the old days when gasoline was not too expensive, the bus or “jeepney” would make a turn around the town to make the passengers feel that it was really leaving. Then it would go back to the terminal to wait for more passengers. The sitting passengers would be in a state of hope – that more passengers would arrive.

Action starter: What do you do with your time?

What do people do while waiting for the bus to arrive? There are different attitudes of waiting. Those not used to the situation may make a fuss and complain about the delay. Some are more creative and bring out a book or finish a puzzle. Others engage their seatmates in lively conversation and make friends. Some sit morosely and seethe inside. Others are more calm and just go to sleep. The more cyber-inclined bring out their laptop and do some work or play some computer game. There are many ways of making use of time.

The question for us is what is our attitude toward time here on earth? What do we do with our time? Is time a drudgery or something boring? Is time an enemy that we have to kill or is time a gift to be enjoyed and to be used productively?

God so loved the world that He joined us in time by sending us His Son. By giving us His time and living with us in time, Jesus showed us the Godly way of spending time. Time is for loving, serving, working, playing, waiting, and praying. As somebody wrote while waiting for a loved one who was far away:

I shall be spent in waiting,
not counting the wounds and scars that distance brings,
but joyfully carry time, that turns an eternity of waiting
into an endless breath of loving,
a love that knows no distance and time.