Advent: A time of great expectations

“THINK BIG”, I shared the other day in a meeting with a group volunteers. Big: not in the sense of property or material wealth, but “big” in the sense of dreams and visions. We can’t afford to be limited in our expectations; otherwise we become faint and lackluster. With big dreams and visions, we become motivated and inspired to work harder.

“Do you mean to say that big things happen even in today’s slow economic progress?” you’d ask.

“Yes,” I’d answer, “if you believe in the unlimited hope and trust in God.”

This is true in spiritual life. Shall we be limited in our dreams and visions of God’s presence, promise, and love and forgiveness? Not so! We’ll keep expecting; we’ll keep believing and knowing that abundant graces await us.

Many years ago, I dreamed of becoming a priest, and it happened. A few years later, I dreamed of being a pastor, and it happened too. Later on, I dreamed of finishing a doctoral degree and, again, it came through. Now I’m dreaming of a renovated and restored Church, and it’s happening “slowly but surely”. These fulfilled dreams are even over-passed by a larger and unexpected dream-come-through: a wonderful and vigorous Catholic Christian Community that will celebrate its 100th Year Anniversary next year!

Beyond vocation, career, title, and success in ministry, I’m constantly dreaming of a more secured life, filled with contentment and peace that come from a deeper prayer life. I’m constantly dreaming to be free from fatal effects of vanities and earthly prestige to one’s soul. I’m dreaming of a free spirit!

Perhaps, this is what we need to hear on this Advent season. The Lord wants us to live with great expectations, to wait for something big that will happen in life. The Lord wants us to broaden our hope, our patience, and longing. He does not want us to give up on ourselves or on one another.

What keeps us from thinking big? What stifles our spirits and paralyzes our efforts? Best-selling spiritual writer, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI mentions several things in his articles and books: restlessness, tiredness, distraction, anger, obsessions, wound, and haste. How true!

These behaviors and illnesses prevent us from being free to experience God’s power and presence in our lives, from recognizing His tremendous generosity. They make us blind and resentful; they cause us to feel impoverished, dull, and small-time.

On this Advent Season, let’s not allow any negative attitude or experience to destroy our dreams and visions. Let’s keep expecting and believing. Let’s think BIG!

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Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.  For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities.  Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles. Please email Fr. Rodel at [email protected].

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