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Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

November 20, 2022 / 1st Advent Sunday A

Photo: Advent Wreath

There’s a man who spends a good deal of time in front of the TV. Once as he was watching the PBA championship, he dozed off.

His wife was surprised to find him the next morning sleeping before the TV set. She shook him and said, “Wake up…it’s 20 to 7!”

Startled, the groggy husband blurted out, “Who’s leading?”

* * *

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the church’s liturgical calendar. The call is to “wake up from sleep” (Rom 13,11) or “stay awake” (Mt 24, 43).

It does not mean that we are literally in state of dormition like that man dozing before the TV set! What it means is to wake up from spiritual slumber. God calls us to a moral renewal and spiritual conversion.

* * *

I am reminded of the story of Rey Mendoza, (not his real name) who had taken to drinking for 34 years.

“I often wondered how I drove home late at night and arrived in one piece, he confided. I also smoked heavily. I indulged in this for 37 years. A lot of my money literally went in smoke.”

* * *

Then crises began to strike. First, it started with a case filed by the bank he was working which involved malversation of funds. He was forced to quit his high-paying job. Compelled to sell their car and other possessions, he turned to a family business to recover financially but failed miserably.

* * *

Some friends invited the couple to join a Marriage Encounter (ME) seminar, hoping to straighten their lives. Rey scoffed at the idea, saying “What I need is money, not such useless seminar.”

Due to the pestering entreaty, however, Rey gave in.

* * *

In the three-day weekend seminar, Rey’s eyes were opened to his many wrongdoings and weaknesses. He cried and felt so ashamed of himself.

He turned completely to a new way of life and gave up his vices. “You won’t believe it, Father,” he said. “I was able to give up my drinking and smoking instantly at the end of the seminar.”

Rey and his wife are now active in spreading the astonishing result of self-renewal, inspiring numerous troubled couples.

* * *

On the social aspect, there is no real transformation in society unless there is an inner personal transformation. Whatever is wrong with society is the accumulated result of whatever is wrong with the people who compose it.

Who fight senseless wars, who cause death and poverty, who do illegal logging? Society doesn’t do it; it’s people who do it by their heartless, unjust and corrupt practices.

* * *

As we enter “Advent,” the church’s New Year, we would do well to pause and ask ourselves: “Where is my life heading to? Am I making any progress or am I getting older in years but spiritually sterile? What bad habits and vices am I clinging on to?

* * *

St. Paul exhorts us, “Get rid of the ‘deeds of darkness’ and clothe ourselves with splendor of Christ’s grace.”

“When you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.”

* * *

WILL POWER. A man approached his priest-friend and bragged, “Father, I got rid of my vices.” “How did you do it?” the priest replied. “I stopped drinking through will power; gambling? will power; smoking? will power.” The priest said, “How about womanizing?” He looked sheepishly and said, “Power failure!”

“But I’m trying hard to overcome it, Father.”

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