“The desert blooming, winding ways made straight, mountains made low and valleys are filled in, the blind seeing and the deaf hearing, the lame dancing and the broken hearted healed, swords made into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks”- these are but some of the images we hear proclaimed in Scriptures during the season of Advent. In a situation enveloped by uncertainty, darkness, lethargy, and static immobility these images offer renewed hope.
The season challenges all of us to turn our world “upside down!” It calls us to a way different from that which is before. It urges us to rise from our comfortable mediocrity and to creatively live our Capuchin life radically. Advent is a sounding board vigorously beating and urging us to change!
Let us examine ourselves in all honesty. And look deep into our very self; not preoccupying ourselves with the faults of our brothers, what the other has done nor what he has failed to do but into who we have been, what we have done and the essentials of our religious identity we may have been certainly remiss. And having looked within ourselves, let us not plainly be satisfactorily content with what we have encountered but let us commit ourselves to making what we see better. In doing so, it may be wise to judge ourselves with a “healthy discontent.”
It takes a lot of courage to introspectively examine ourselves and to even have the humility to admit that we need more help than what is “ordinary.” But if we are true to ourselves, if we really want the situation to change, if we really desire a fresh start, if we aim to sustain the vocation we are convinced to which we are called, if we are really aspiring and desiring for the “ideal,” then we shall step into that opportunity to reform.
There are a lot of opportunities to renew ourselves: ongoing formation courses have not been wanting. The Provincial Office of Information frequently sends materials for such. All we have to do is not to let our guard down. Oftentimes the opportunities are very well within our reach but we never paid attention to them- that “red book” better known as “The Constitutions and Ordinances of the Capuchin Friars Minor” continues to accumulate dust in our shelves with its pages remaining crisp without being read. Some of us also could not see that the localities we were discerned to be assigned to, marginal or remote they may be, are the very places of growth and renewal. And so we procrastinate gazing, grazing and moving to where it seems “the grass is greener.” If we realize that this “sitz em leben” is where God would want us to be then no sooner could we bloom where we are planted! Renewal programs offered by established institutions could are recommended in certain situations. “Ecclesia semper reformanda est.” We should find ways of making our commitment fresh.
This new liturgical year carries with it a challenge for all of us- “Renewed Servant-Leaders for the New Evangelization.” Let everyone of us then take this stance- “I must emerge from this Advent, if not in the days thereafter, a new person, “a guest in the proper attire” ( cfr. Mt. 22:11), a renewed friar, and a renewed servant-leader. In the end, let us proclaim with St. Paul, “… whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away, behold new things have come.” (2 Cor 5:17).
A blessed Advent to all!
Br. Eugenio Juanilo P. Lopez, OFMCap.
Capuchin Philippine Province of Our Lady of Lourdes
(Message addressed to the brothers during the Provincial Christmas Party)
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