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1st Sunday of Advent
Have you heard of the latest scam that again duped thousands of our countrymen? Very ordinary people are now crying their hearts out to recover their precious savings.  Many people nowadays succumb easily into scams.  Why?  Because people are entranced by promises a better economic and social life. I too was once scammed by glib, attractive proposals of a person I hardly knew and who later appeared as a seasoned deceiver. 
We hold on to promises when we find ourselves walking through the dark. Promises become irresistible as we try to wriggle our way out of difficult situations of poverty, indebtedness, shame or desperation.  Promises become so tempting to believe when we are most in need of hope.
But as the saying goes, some “promises are meant to be broken”.  And when they are indeed broken, this results in shattered dreams and broken hearts.  Look at the sadness of spouses whose marital vows to each other were disregarded.  Look at friends whose loyalty to each other was supplanted by greed and selfishness. Look at the poor who trusted in powerful people who pretended to care for them but merely used them.  In the midst of all these, who can we still trust? Who can still give us real hope?
Advent comes to us as an assurance that there is One whose promises are ture, sincere and heartfelt.  I was touched by the moving words of the first reading, Jeremiah 33:  “I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.”  God wills to give his people safety and security.  The people can be assured that God is on their side. 
God does not give false hopes and his promises are not empty promises. He provides reliable hope and sincere promises. We have a local saying we use to reinforce our promises:  Itaga mo pa sa bato! (inscribe it in stone!).  But God does not have to make use of stones to illustrate his good will. It is enough that he speaks, for when he does, his words are followed by actions.
But how do we obtain what God promised?  The second reading reminds us that there is a corresponding responsibility for one who receives the promises of the Lord. We must be faithful to God as well.  Paul exhorts the Thessalonians:  as you receive from us, so you must conduct yourselves in a way that pleases God.  The receiver of the promise must also prove to be worthy of the promise.  We cannot treat the promises of God lightly; we must be challenged by it to a life in accord with his will.
In the gospel, Jesus makes a promise that he will return and as Christians we hold on to his words.  One day, he will come to rescue us from the fear, the pain, the boredom and tiredness of daily toil in this earth.  But we can experience this promise of salvation and deliverance only if we are vigilant and active in receiving him in our hearts.  As our hearts turn to the message of Christmas, let us thank our God, fulfiller of promises and beg him to make us worthy of the promises of Christ.