Jer 33:14-16; 1Thess 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28,34-36
There was a graduating college class some years ago who decided that they would not have a graduation ball. Instead, they would take the money they would have spent – the money for their dresses, the dinner and the ballroom at the hotel and would donate it to their school scholarships for poor students. They really needed the graduation ball but, they sacrificed it and they did it.
First Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year of the church. The next four weeks are filled with anticipation. What are we anticipating? For many, the answer could be a party, Christmas bonus or vacation leave, and a gift we have wanted from a special person or event by which an unexpected loved one returned. All of these anticipations are not bad but good. After all if you think about Christ’s born, Christ’s has already born two thousand years ago and had put at our disposal all that we need to save ourselves. What is needed now is our personal response. We have to do our part. One of our responses could be a good preparation of ourselves by which the next four weeks are about preparing a place on our hearts for the one who will prepare a place for us with the Father in heaven.
How do we prepare ourselves worthily for the birthday celebration of Jesus? For some, one has to go to a retreat/recollection; for some is to pray more, eat and generally try to be kinder to those around us. See for example, giving gifts or cards on Christmas. All of these are good but lucking. For me, the best preparation that we should do with our lives during this season and the days to come throughout the year is what Mother Theresa of Calcutta had said: “”Give until it hurts.”
It is very important to prepare ourselves for Christmas and to use the four weeks of Advent in order to make us ready for the coming of Christmas. We ought to give up something very important. We ought to make some sacrifices out of love just like what the graduating college students was doing in our introductory story. Not to worry so much about what we are going to get on Christmas, rather, about what we could give as our present in celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ.
Usually, during the celebration of the Mass, when the collection box is passing around, we only give P100.00. But if you give P500.00 even though you need it for your personal consumption, that’s an example of giving until it hurts and then give a little more. For the reason that, “no fair giving if it is not hard: no fair giving up durian candy for Advent because you really don’t like durian candy. It’s much better to give up watching TV because that will really hurt you – you need it.”
There is a story of giving until it hurts in the gospel of St. Mark (12:38-42) where Jesus praised the poor widow who put two copper coins in the collection box for the poor in the temple. Christ told His disciples that the poor widow had given more than all the rich people who put large amount of money in the collection and yet it was surplus. “They give of their surplus,” as Jesus said, “but she gave all she had.” She gives until it hurts. All of us are like the poor widow. None of us are exempted. We can give until it hurts.
Of course, Jesus is the perfect example of giving until it hurts. He didn’t just talk about giving everything. He did it. He gave everything he had even to death on the cross. St. Paul says that Christ poured Himself out. He emptied Himself out of love. Christ too, gave until it hurts. Christ always gives until it hurts.
We are good people. We do give. Sometimes we give a lot to show that we are generous and charitable. We even announce it and publish it. But we rarely give until it hurts. We give up the durian candy, but we don’t like to give up watching TV because we don’t want to miss our favorite telenovela. If we want to be really good, we have to learn to really give. We cannot just give what is extra. We have to give up something we think is important to us and yet others need it all the more.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C