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Filipinos mark their year by remembering the special challenges of each situation:

… it’s your birthday again; grow up!

… you’re graduating next year?; road to independence!

… Holy Week is coming; time to get the clan ready for a reunion!

… it’s almost Christmas; feel the love in the air!

Yes, it’s the first week of Advent; we will hear messages on waiting, on vigilance, on staying awake!

Paul tells the Romans: it’s now the hour to stay awake.

The Lord Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew: be prepared; the Master comes when you least expect him.

What is this thing about keeping awake, this waiting for something, or more precisely, for someone?

It’s definitely not literal sleeplessness.

It is a call to a waiting of the heart. It is a call to “feel the love” again!

My cousin posted the picture of her daughter on social media.

The girl was sleeping soundly while clutching an old t-shirt.

When she was going to bed, her dad was still in the gym. She said she missed him so much that could she please have his shirt around to hug?

What a cute photo! What a nice anecdote!

This is precisely the message of the gospel, and a little child led me to it this year.

This little girl, loving her dad, was keeping him close to her by reminding herself of his presence.

While waiting, she was already expressing her love, her faithfulness, her great desire to be reunited with her dad.

Paul reminds the Romans: put on the Lord Jesus Christ… live in a new way… resist the darkness… come courageously to the light!

How many times while we wait, we have become forgetful, careless, negligent, unscrupulous because we feel the distance from the one we wait for; we compensate for the absence by doing something else, by focusing on the negative rather than on the positive… on love.

The best way to wait for someone is to constantly remember; feel his presence; cling to a token that keeps the person right before us each moment.

In the case of this child, it’s a t-shirt. In our spiritual life, it can be a favorite prayer or devotion, a Bible verse, a habit of Mass or adoration, a resolve to go to Confession, a decision to show love and compassion to the poor.

It is not always easy; many times we have to be courageous and constant.

Advent and Christmas are full of symbols. These things help us to keep the fire burning; to keep the lights on, to sustain the joy of one day reuniting with the One who loves us face-to-face.

It’s another Advent; wait, what are you clutching in your hands? Still stuck in

… the anger against your parents?

… refusal to reconcile with someone?

… declaration of war on the world?

… unwillingness to let go of hurtful habits and vices?

… lack of compassion and charity?

Wake up!

It’s another Advent. Cling to acts of faith, love, forgiveness, giving.

Time to renew your love again

… with the Lord,

… with the people you have hurt

… and even with those who have hurt you

… most specially to the people who love you and those you love most!

(please don’t forget to share… God bless!)