The Philippines is not called the “Christmas Capital of the World” for nothing. From the wealthiest neighborhoods located at the center of business districts to the slum areas lying at the outskirts of a city, the holiday fever is observed as early as September.
The Missionary Society of St. Columban-Philippines joins the countdown for Christmas as we celebrate the Advent Season with the theme, “Waiting, Beauty and Hope.”
Presenting the Christmas “Parol”, the quintessential holiday decoration in the Philippines and a symbol of light in the darkness during these dire times. This simple five-point star, shines with the colors: yellow, blue, red, green, pink and white.
For the next six weeks, a video message from a Columban Missionary will be posted, explaining what each of these colors represent, and how they form part of the forces driving the world into the state it is in.
In the meantime, here is Fr. Finbar Maxwell’s pensive reflection about the crucial reality we are facing and his prayer that in this “waiting time we will never lose sight of beauty, for in times of challenge and distress beauty gives us hope.”
Waiting, Beauty and Hope
by Fr. Finbar Maxwell
When we think of the subject of “waiting” in the context of cities and towns throughout the Philippines, the image of long lines of people waiting to board jeepneys or the LRT can easily come to mind; students waiting to graduate, graduates waiting to get a job; farmers waiting for the crops to grow, mature and be ready for harvest; fishermen waiting to catch fish; victims waiting for help to come after a disaster, and so on. We witness the resilience and patience of the Filipino people – of people in expectation and hope that what they wait and long for will eventually come.
Advent, too, is a time for waiting, a time of expectancy, of longing and hope. In the Old Testament book of Wisdom we are told that “when peaceful silence lay over all, and night had run half of her swift course, down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt [God’s] all-powerful word.” (Wisdom 18: 14-15) What this means is that when God felt the time was right, he sent his son Jesus into the world, to offer a waiting humanity the light and life that they were longing for. In this season of Advent and Christmas we wait with patience – and joy – for the Lord who is always coming to us; we await the joy and hope that is ever present with us in our lives, even when we don’t always feel it.
At this time, when the world is in the shadow of coronavirus, we pray that we can wait with patience, while scientists and pharmacologists create vaccines to combat Covid-19. We pray for these great people that our creator God may inspire them in their work. We pray also that in this waiting time we will never lose sight of beauty, for in times of challenge and distress beauty gives us hope. Think of the way our spirits are lifted by the sight of the sunrise over fields or mountains, over the ocean or over our towns and cities. Think of how our eyes light up at the sight of a garden or field of flowers, by the sounds of the birds in the trees, and by the beauty of the people whom we know and love. Let us never forget that beauty surrounds us, in the small details and on life’s bigger canvas, and that this beauty points us always to our life-giving, loving, creator God.
In this season of Advent and Christmas may we wait with patient, joyful and expectant hearts, for all that God is revealing to us at this time. And most especially, may we meet Jesus, our Lord, who is always with us and who ever lives among us.