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Maranatha!

Fr. Roy Cimagala

Candidly Speaking

 

IT means “Come, Lord Jesus” or “the Lord is coming.” This Aramaic word appears in the Book of Revelation (22,20) to express the desire for the speedy coming for the second time of Christ, our Savior and King.

It also appears in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (16,22) to reinforce an injunction made earlier. It also appears in the Letter of St. James (5,8-9) to signify the need for vigilance for the coming of Christ.

In all these cases, the word strikes as something important and serious that deserves to be known and used by us to express its many nuances. It evokes a kind of expectation as well as a holy fear to offend God. It would be nice if we could use it as a password that would immediately put us in a certain frame of mind.

Especially now in this season of Advent when we are preparing for the birth of Christ, we should remind ourselves that we are not only interested in that nostalgic feeling of Christ’s birth but also in the more serious business of preparing ourselves for his second coming.

In a sense, this is the distinctive flavor of the season of Advent and Christmas. It’s about looking forward to Christ coming again in glory as our King to reclaim us as his people. That is why we should remind ourselves again that our attitude toward Advent and Christmas should not just be mainly sentimental and emotional. It has to be strictly theological so that we can identify the proper direction we should take in this season.

We need to strongly remind ourselves that we are just passing by in this world. We are meant for another world, the so-called “a new heaven and a new earth.” (Rev 21,1) We ought to develop this kind of outlook in life.

That’s why we have to know what really is essential in this earthly life of ours so that we do not get unnecessarily entangled, confused and lost. We even need to train our very instincts to discern the things proper to us as children of God.

Let’s hope that the word, “Maranatha,” can help us to see what really is necessary in life—our personal sanctity and our role in the continuing work of salvation through our personal apostolate.

“Maranatha” should not lead us to think that we think little of our present life with all its projects, concerns, challenges, etc. It should not evoke an idealistic other-worldly attitude. Rather it should help us see the link of our earthly life and our eternal life with God in heaven.

Precisely in this season of Advent, one of the liturgical prayers we say is the following: “Father,…teach us to judge wisely the things of earth and to love the things of heaven.” “Maranatha” should make us see the connection between heaven and earth.

The word should heighten our awareness of our duty to sanctify ourselves and do apostolate, taking advantage of whatever circumstances we may be in to pursue these goals.

In other words, let’s hope that the word can elicit the passion and zeal for holiness and apostolate. This pair can never be separated, since holiness by definition involves not only loving God but also loving others with God’s love. Holiness will always be apostolic. It necessarily involves entering into the lives of others for God.

And before we get some strange ideas about this truth of our faith, like, it is too fantastic, undoable, if not inhuman, etc., we need to reassure ourselves that this is the passion that would actually make us fully human, fully Christian, children of God, perfect image and likeness of God.

As to its practicability, we cannot have any doubt about it, since God, for his part, is giving us everything for it to take place. He has sent his Son who became man to us. And this God-man, Jesus, died on the cross in his supreme act of self-giving to us. Nothing is spared to make us be what we ought to be.

On our part, we have been wired and equipped for this passion for holiness and apostolate. With our intelligence and will, and always activated by God’s grace, we can enter into the life of God himself, and the lives of others.

This is the tremendous wonder of our life—that in spite of our weakness, mistakes and sins, we are still, as St. Augustine would put it, “capax Dei,” capable of God. And if we are capable of loving God, then we too must be capable of loving others.

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