Luke 21:25-36B, 1st Sunday of Advent
Imagine, just imagine, a foreign government finally rigging nuclear missile launchers into our reefs. Then, they aim them at us. Into their computers, they plot the coordinates of our arsenals, military camps, airports, down to the square meter. Anytime, at their leader’s pleasure, a work-from-home soldier can click on his mouse. This will launch streaks of missiles into the Philippine sky, to precision-hit us on their way down, in one fell swoop. Then, imagine one day, all our mobile devices receive a notice in bad English. In the next few days, their military will go on a siege. Resist, and those work-from-home mice will start clicking.
Then, they come in battalions, with high powered rifles, grenade launchers, tanks. Nazi-style, they barge into our homes and drive us out. They beat our fathers, kick our mothers in the stomach, shoot kuya, rape ate, beat up bunso. They commandeer our stores, loot our banks, convert our schools into their bunkers, and torch all our churches. Then they cram as many Filipinos into C130s, and dump us into labor camps in God-forsaken areas, where, on exile, we languish for 30, 40 years, maybe?
The Babylonian exile must have been something like this, when Nebuchadnezzar laid waste upon Jerusalem and exiled the Israelites for 70 years, one generation! The Siege of Jerusalem might have been like this, too. Forty years after Jesus, the Romans finally lost their patience on whiney, smarmy Israel. They marched into Jerusalem, torched everything that could ever catch fire, and ravaged their Temple, leaving not one stone upon another.
“There will be signs in the heavens; nations will be in dismay, bewildered by the roaring of the sea & waves. People will die of fright of what’s coming upon the world. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing & drunkenness, lest that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” That might sound very scary to us. But, you know, sisters and brothers, whenever the prophets said these words in the especially during the exile, and whenever Jesus reprised them, like in today’s Gospel—people weren’t frightened. Oh, these were words were music to their ears! Which reminds me, by the way, of one story of the Holocaust. When the Nazis lined up Jews for the “showers,” several knew: they weren’t coming out of that “bathed.” So, some of them started to sing… the Psalms. Why? This was going to be the day they would finally meet the Lord, their King! Imagine? So, when Jews anguished in exile, slavery, homesickness—apocalyptic words, words about the “end of the world,” made them sing Psalms, made them pray: “Yes, please, Lord, please! Maranatha! Dumating ka na, aming Diyos! Harinawa, Panginoon, hari ng awa! Pohon, Ginoo. Let your stars fall upon our enemies, your waves flood them, your waters drown them, your powers arrest their hearts in fright. Come, when they least expect you. Now na!”
With this new variant menacing us again, minsan naisip ko, baka simula na talaga ng extinction ng ating lahi. We seem to be just going from variant to variant to variant, and in their wake, whole swathes of world population “go up in smoke,” literally & figuratively. Then, I think of us here, and Covid, Pharmally, DOH, dictators, sons of dictators, daughters of dictators, cover-ups, plunder. As viruses raged and our loved ones burned, anong ginawa ng mga may kapangyarihan? Parang…wala. Atapang a-tao, a-rami pera. Pero, wala. Sarili lang ang inisip. Parang sila pa ‘yung nagkakantahan at tuwang-tuwa. Nakaisa… while viruses raged and our loved ones burned.
So, when I think about how Jews relished end-of-the-world scenarios instead of dread them, parang gusto na ring idasal ngayong Adbyento at sa susunod na mga buwan: “Come, Lord Jesus, our one and only King. Maranatha! Halika na, hari ng awa. Harinawa, now na! Let your stars fall upon evil men, your waves flood them, your waters drown them, your powers arrest their hearts in fright. Come, when they least expect you. In whatever way, shape, form, or through the person of a good, God-fearing leader… come!”
Two shout-outs before I end? First: to people in power, whether in politics, civil circles, or religious life. Just a reminder that only God’s power is forever. Yours isn’t. Your power ends sooner than you think, sooner than you wish. Second shout-out: to people who put people in power where they are. Sisters and brothers, when we put our country “in the hands of God,” please remember nevertheless, that the power of people in power is really in our hands. We have the power over them.
*image from the Internet (Getty Images)