Advent

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


POPE Francis is bound to be one of the most popular popes in history. He is admired not just by Catholics but also by non-Catholics and even by atheists, one of whom wrote to CNN, “I am an atheist but Pope Francis makes me want to become a Catholic.”

Though I’m also becoming a Francis fan, my “manok” during the last conclave that elected Pope Benedict’s replacement was Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, USA.

Well, my “manok” lost. But if there’s an international contest on the most mediagenic priest, I believe the ballots would tilt in Dolan’s favor. His eruditeness, tempered with an infectious sense of humor, captivates radio and TV audiences, and wins over to his side biased Catholic Church bashers.

For this reason, I sit and watch whenever Cardinal Dolan is on television. Recently, he discussed Advent on EWTN:

What is Advent?

“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means coming. It connotes anticipation and preparation.

The Season of Advent comprises the four weeks before Christmas, which celebrate our spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus.

Cardinal Dolan shared that, when he was a young priest, he gave a talk to grade 3 pupils about Advent.

One pupil asked, “Why do we prepare for the coming of Jesus when he has already come?” Sensible question from the mouth of a babe!

Dolan explained: Yes, Jesus did come in the past, but he does come today, and he will come in the future. He comes to us in three ways:

1. In HISTORY he came as “Emmanuel.”

2. He comes to us today in MYSTERY in the word and in the Holy Eucharist.

3. He will come again in the future in MAJESTY to judge the living and the dead.

Though there are churches that do not celebrate Advent liturgically, they preach the teaching about preparedness for the Second Coming of Christ.

On the other hand, there are churches whose main theology is focused on the signs of the Second Coming.

Every word and nuance of scriptural texts are investigated obsessively. Predictions on the exact date are sent out.

While the Catholic Church also preaches on the eschatological texts of the Bible, the differences in our outlook regarding the Second Coming are the following:

1. It is not obsessive about how, when and where Jesus will return, for in Mark 13: 32 Jesus says -- after describing the calamitous scene of the end of the world -- that only the Father knows when the end of time will happen; not even he, the Son, knows this.

2. The focus is on preparedness, for the discourse in Mark 13:32 continues in verse 33. Jesus says, “Keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.”

Or, as Dolan put it with a naughty chuckle, “Though we are sure of God’s mercy, we cannot be sure about tomorrow.”

3. There will be a Second Coming in which Jesus will judge the living and the dead in a general judgment. But there is also a “Mini-Second Coming” for each one of us when Jesus judges us at our death.

*****

At my home, the 24 days of Advent will be observed by hanging on each day a scriptural text related to the coming or comings of Jesus.

This is a centuries-old devotion called The Jesse Tree. I’m out of space; please look it up in the internet.

You may also want to look up the biggest mosaic in the world, Christ in Majesty, my favorite icon of Jesus at the end of time. Sweet-looking he is not!

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 04, 2013.

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