[COLUMN] The second candle of the Advent wreath: The light of faith

WE are now journeying into the Second Sunday of Advent. Last week, we lit the first candle that symbolizes hope—hope for the world and the Church in these challenging times!

This Sunday, the second candle symbolizes faith, which all of us– families and children–need as we face the changing times. I say “changing times” because so much in politics, news, entertainment, and social media have challenged our traditional values and mindsets in recent years. Varying political ideologies, fake news, sexual fluidity, pornography, illegal drugs, violence, hatred, injustice, apathy toward the Church, and many more have influenced the minds of many people. Indeed, it’s tough to raise children nowadays.

That’s why we must come together as a community of faith to support and pray for one other, keep our families strong, and show our children and youth how much we love and value them. We don’t want them to be lost in confusing, empty, mundane ways and the culture of “fake news” corrupting their minds. Instead, we want them to experience genuine love and care, wholeness, peace, justice, honesty, success, fulfillment, joy, and most of all, a personal encounter with the living God in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We aspire to be a church that builds faith-filled families, where God is at the center of every marriage and relationship, and where there is a healthy reverential fear of God. And so we never get tired and discouraged of inviting people to worship God in Word and Sacrament.

Like St. Paul in the Second Reading this Sunday, December 5 (Phil 1:4-6, 8-11) I pray that “your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

At times, we may be like John the Baptist that cries out in the wilderness, urging people to turn to God, to come back to him through a loving and faithful relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s because, like John the Baptist, we testify that Jesus Christ is the bearer of all truth, love, and life. Through Jesus Christ, “every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Testifying does not only mean preaching and teaching our children and youth the ways and values of Jesus Christ. It’s also about the faithful living of our relationship with Jesus. That means loving our children unconditionally, being with them in difficult times, understanding and empathizing with them, and showing them what is honest, just, loving, merciful, and kind by example. Moreover, it’s taking them to church, showing them our fidelity to God through worship and acts of charity.

Let’s keep faith vibrant in our families and community. Let’s worship together this Advent and Christmas. And as missionary disciples of Christ, let’s invite everyone to COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

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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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