Our people will always remember that typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) as the storm that beat all others.  With thousands dead and missing and millions displaced, an entire nation was brought to its knees. We continue to pray for those who lost lives and to assist those who seek to rebuild a new future.
The real irony is that we waited for this typhoon to strike. We knew it was coming. Its strength was forecast days before its landfall. Warnings were sent against its strong winds, its heavy rains, and its impending huge waves. We waited, yes.  But does it say something about how, as a people, we wait?
Without being insensitive to Filipinos, let’s also humbly admit it: we are not good at waiting.  How do Filipinos wait?  Many of us wait passively.  We wait until the last minute to be alarmed by real danger. 
In my parish that is prone to floods, when there is a storm, people leave their homes only when the floodwaters are already seeping through the door, when they see pieces of roof slowly blown away. Even in case of fire, people are trapped because they refuse to leave behind their belongings. 
There is this celebrated coastal village where nobody died when Yolanda struck. Why? The village leader convincingly evacuated all residents away from the shore two days before.  Gathered in the middle of the island, only houses were washed away.  All the people survived.
The Gospel calls us to wait actively, creatively. “Stay awake! You do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24: 42). We do not know the precise moments when things will happen, when the end will come, when the Lord will make his visitation in our lives.  Hence the Lord Jesus’ strong advice: Stay awake!
In the first reading, Jews were waiting for peace, when “swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2). Paul’s Christian friends in Rome were waiting for deliverance from sin and journey into light. While at it, he counsels: Be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ! (Rom. 13:14).
It is a divine and wise move to do something positive while waiting. It is what preparing well truly means. It is not only prudent but also an evangelical call.
As Advent unfolds, as Christmas slowly and steadily arrives, the Lord encourages us to wait actively.  Let us wait with prayer, for this season offers many reflections for the soul.  Let us wait with solidarity, for this is a time to renew relationships. Let us wait with sharing, for this time is a call to thanksgiving and generosity to those around us in need.
May we all have a meaningful Advent this year!  Come, Lord Jesus and heal our land… touch our hearts!
(more reflections in my book, SOWN ON GOOD SOIL, at all stpauls bookstores… thanks!)