Today is Gaudete Sunday! Whilst the color purple of Advent symbolizes the penitential spirit of the expectant waiting for the Lord, today we use the color rose to symbolize joy and gladness because the coming of the Lord is near: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
John the Baptist’s voice broke the messianic longing not just of the Jews but of all humanity who are need of a Saviour! The question of John the Baptist: “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” was asked not because John was unsure if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. John wanted his disciples to believe not because he told them but because he wanted them to be convinced by Jesus himself. The response of Jesus was not a Yes or No but rather he qualified it by pointing to his deeds: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are bought back to life and the good news is preached to the poor. In short, it should be the disciples who would testify that Jesus was the Messiah after they had witnessed the works he had done.
‘No man born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” says Jesus of John, “and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” John’s greatness lies in the mission entrusted to him by God and he fulfilled it with such passion that eventually led him to his death. True greatness lies in the heart of the mission entrusted to us by God, no matter how big or small it is. As Christians, we are not just the bearers of the name of Christ. Just like John, we are the voice announcing to the world the coming of Christ; our life is the message that he has indeed come. That is why we just don’t endeavour to put back Christ in the word CHRISTmas but more so to put back Christ in every CHRISTian. All of us are given the opportunity to shine before God; all of us can be great before God!
The tragedy that devastated 9 million people in the Philippines because of the super-typhoon Haiyan brought a new light in the journey not just among the Filipinos but among the peoples around the world. After a month of suffering those who lost homes, loved ones, properties and many others are now able to smile because of their strong faith in God. In the midst of such unspeakable destruction and distress, they are able to rejoice because of their unwavering faith in God. Some of the moving pictures are those of children kneeling down in prayer in the midst of the rubbles inside a ruined church; women carrying the statues of Mary and the Infant Jesus in procession with the massive destruction at the background; a woman giving birth in the midst of ruins. These are truly pictures of hope and joy! The United Nations and the international community who sent humanitarian aid to the typhoon victims and those who continue to help re-build their lives are truly a powerful testament of humanity’s triumph in time of catastrophes. God performs miracles through the hands of those who are willing to help especially the poorest of the poor.
The people who survived the tragedy and those of us watching from the outside may ask: “What is God doing now in this time of pain or in other moments of disasters?” In the silence of our hearts, we will hear the voice of God saying “I have created you to make a difference.” Happy are those who helped in one way or another and are continuing to help because they have become the hands, feet and voice of God in bringing comfort and blessings to others. They are the modern-day John the Baptists who announce that God has indeed come even in the midst of such intense suffering. They are not just heroes in the hearts of our people, they are the greatest in the heart of God….