[COLUMN] Christ in our hands

“Father, I love your article this Sunday, but I’m sorry that you have to write and remind us of the problems of the world all the time,” a concerned parishioner told me. I appreciated her affirmation, but her remark made me reflect further on the conflicts, wars, divisions, corruption, and lack of good leadership present in our world today. It’s hard not to lament the problems, evils, and sinfulness of this present age and not bring them up in conversations, prayer, and preaching.   After all, we are all citizens of this world and deeply connected with one another as human beings. The sufferings of other people make us suffer too. We hope and pray for the end of their pains and troubles.

Our First Reading from the Book of Isaiah (63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7) expresses a similar lament about the state of God’s people during the time of Prophet Isaiah. People had wandered from God, and their hearts were hardened. They blamed God for the evils that befell them. Yet, they asked God for his intervention and acknowledged their sinfulness and the power of God to redeem them from their sufferings. Here, the Prophet Isaiah offers a strikingly mournful prayer:

“Behold, you are angry and we are sinful; all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name or rouses himself to cling to you, for you have hidden your face from us and delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”

On this First Sunday of Advent, God invites us to engage in a communal lament concerning the current state of our world. However, it is crucial that this lament not only allows us to recognize our failures and sinful nature but also ignites within us a desire to be catalysts for change, promoting Gospel values such as love, mercy, respect, inclusivity, and kindness. It should be a lament that acknowledges our shared heritage as citizens of this world and children of God, deserving of dignity, respect, and a decent standard of living. Similar to the lament of Prophet Isaiah, it should not be one that dwells in despair but one that embraces the hope of Advent, trusting that God will come again to restore our lives and establish justice and peace in our land.

This Sunday’s (December 3) Gospel urges us to be watchful, alert, and prayerful. However, being watchful does not imply a passive waiting; rather, it calls us to actively fulfill our responsibilities with conscientiousness and dedication until the Second Coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We can approach our desires and responsibilities with confidence, knowing that we have the ability to make a positive impact on this world and prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Through the Sacraments of the Church and our faithful adherence to the Gospel of Love, we possess Christ in our hands and our hearts, and His Spirit dwells within us. With Christ in our lives, all things are possible..

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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