By Fr. Dwight dela Torre
Let us be co-workers of God
Four weeks before Christmas we entered the season of Advent. The church lighted a candle for each week. Advent is that season of expectation and preparation. We waited and prepared not only for Christmas, but for the coming of Christ, who in the words of the Creed, will come “…to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end…” This sounds frightening. Because the implication is death and dying.
But that was not so in the biblical terms. Advent is the anticipation, the yearning for the fulfillment of God’s promise of a different world. It is therefore about the hope for a new world; the transformation of this world – not a new world in the great beyond. It is about a “new heaven and a new earth” (Is. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1). It means the end of a world as we know it: full violence, injustice and death. In Advent we anticipate a world made new because justice and peace will reign and where life prospers. It will not be a cataclysmic destruction of the world as commonly understood but rather its Great Transformation. Advent is, in other words, the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s reign on earth.
Because of this, Advent is also a season of repentant preparation. The Biblical meaning of repentance is quite different from our common understanding. Repentance is often more understood as contrition — to be sorry for our sins, confessing them and if humanly possible doing restitution and penance.
But the Biblical meaning of repentance is “change of direction”. To repent is “to turn away from.” And when one turns away from something, one naturally turns to another. Thus to repent means, to turn away from sin and to turn to God. To repent is to turn away from what separates or alienates us from God and from our fellow human beings and to re-turn to God. To repent therefore means to begin to see things differently. It means turning away from violence, injustice and the forces of death. A renewed creation will not come down from heaven and be served to us in a silver platter. We somehow have to be involved in making it happen.
And then we entered into a new season. That of Christmas. What has been longed for finds fulfillment in Jesus, in that baby born in a manger thousands of years ago.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy. We can even say he is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets — not their replacement — but the completion of the Law and the prophets. He is their embodiment, their expression in flesh and blood. Jesus reveals and incarnates the passion of God as disclosed in the law and the Prophets.
That Jesus is the messiah is not a fact that must be proved, as if he could be the logical conclusion of a syllogism – the “therefore” in a syllogism. Rather to call Jesus the messiah, the Son of God, Lord and Saviour, is a proclamation of commitment, a declaration of allegiance and confession of loyalty. To do so means, I see in him as the anointed one of God, the disclosure of God in human life, and therefore I pledge him my commitment, my allegiance and my loyalty.
To believe in Jesus as the messiah, the Son of God, Lord and Saviour, means to believe that he the fulfillment of the Bible’s deepest yearnings, the one who reveals God’s dream and plan and agenda for this world — justice, peace and prosperity . That is why we call him Emmanuel – God with us.
Thus to celebrate Christmas is to accept the invitation of Advent, for all of us to participate in the re-creation, in the transformation of the world.
Thus the yearning for the fulfillment of God’s promise of a different world is not about escaping from this earth to heaven. It is all about willingly taking an active part, committing oneself to things God is certainly interested in: a world of justice and peace and prosperity.
As we enter 2016 may we be God’s instruments and co-worker in the realization of God’s Kingdom here on earth. May we be his partners in the pursuit of justice, peace and prosperity…#