An Advent Reflection by Mabie Gonzales. Mabie is the Assistant Over-All Goal Animator of RYM-Iloilo (Redemptorist Youth Ministry) and a Youth Mission Volunteer.

Advent is a “Season of Joyful Waiting, a Season of Hope.” This is what the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” beautifully describes to us. This season prepares us for Christmas.

Well, have you realized that while we wait for Christmas to come, there is a different aura during December?

People tend to be more generous, more smiling, more concerned and more loving. In every place, we see decorations around, we hear joyful music, we hear glad greetings. Advent indeed, prepares us for that wonderful day on Christmas. And it is because of Advent, of this time of preparation and of joyful waiting that makes our heart flutter and be full of excitement. Advent is not only the season in which we prepare for Christmas but it is also the season of loving and hoping. Tonight,  let us allow ourselves to be embraced by these two Filipino words – NAGMAHAL AT UMASA.

For you, what does loving and hoping mean? And how do these two go?

According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, Love is an intense feeling of deep affection while Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Now, the word MAHAL has two meanings. The Tagalog word mahal as a noun means ‘love’ but as an adjective it means ‘expensive’ or ‘costly’ or ‘dear.’

Mahal ang tunay na nagmamahal. It is expensive to truly love. What does this mean? Why is it expensive to love? Financially speaking, we will think that it is expensive because you’ll think of what to give during, month-saries, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, and other occasions. This expensiveness of love doesn’t end there. Aside from the money that we spend, we also spend our time, effort, our presence, service, energy, commitment, and any other acts of love.

In my previous relationship, I have experienced giving and receiving gifts. I would even spend my money to buy that person something for a midnight snack, would make my time free for us to be able to see each other. I would sacrifice some time just for us to be together. As time passed by, I would still receive some gifts, but unfortunately the time and presence of that person slowly faded away. At first, I was in denial, letting myself think that that person was just busy, has his own life and I was just part of it. YES, gifts do really make me happy but when I think of it, gifts are just nothing compared to the presence and time that I seek from that person.

I can easily buy gifts, but how can I buy that person’s time and presence? It made me think that time and presence of that person is more expensive than tangible gifts.

We measure the value of an item usually based on how much we paid for it. Some common things that we see are cheap because we can find them anywhere. But the cheaper it is, the cheaper the quality. Yet, we tend to find things that are great in value. Thus, we determine that the more expensive is more valuable.

Love is expensive, indeed, because it is one value that we humans have. It is expensive because each and everyone of us desires it, but only few are interested and invest with true love. Love is not just all about the gifts we receive and give, but it also requires that willingness to experience all the emotions and give all our life. And that made love expensive.

Now, from the experience that I have, it made me also think that God’s love for us is not cheap. God’s love is expensive. How? It cost the Almighty God Himself to show us what Love is. God’s love for me is unconditional and infinite. He saved me from that relationship. He picked me up when I was really down. He showered me with love through the people around me, my friends, family, and co-youth.  The time, effort, and the life of people around me are expressions of love that God has given me. And these are all expensive.

As we love expensively, we sometimes lose what we have, lose our life, lose ourselves. This is how the Lord expressed his love for us as well. Jesus emptied himself, to become human like us and becoming vulnerable and powerless, yet, the Lord continues to hope and still hoping that we will fully embrace him, welcome him and be with him.

As a youth, what are the things that you hope for? Ano ang inaasahan mo? I asked some of my friends and the most common answers are first, freedom. Freedom to choose, speak, stand and think on their  own, and some would live on their own – to be independent. Second, good or high grades. Pressured or not, youth hope for high grades in order to achieve with honors or with high honors. Some hope for this because they want to make their parents proud and some would just like themselves to excel. Third, the youth hope to become physically and mentally healthy. Youth hope for this because, we want to live forever young.

Personally, those are also my hopes but in addition, at this moment, I am hoping for healing, good relationships in the future, more wisdom and success in my Teachers’ board review. Healing from what? Healing from traumas, heartaches, and pressures. If this healing would be successful, it could lead to good and healthy relationships, not just migo-miga, jowa-jowa relationships but also relationships with our family, friends, co-youth, classmates.

I am currently in a review to take the March 2023 License Examination for Teachers, I am hoping that I will pass the exam and by God’s grace, TOP the exam. Walang masamang mangarap, walang masamang umasa.

Hoping is a sign of life, a part of a person. You are not truly living if you are not hoping. The virtue of hope challenges us and empowers us to be determined, resolute, intentional, purposive, and steadfast. Hope is not wishful thinking or just passive waiting. It means that whatever we hope for we have an intention, we live a life with a purpose. We live hopeful lives. A person who lives knowing that there is hope in every challenge, has been shaped by the setbacks or disappointments – yet that person chose to get back in order to be a model of hope for others.

In this time of advent, as we wait for Christmas, we can express our hope through these three points that I have.

Give time and attention. If you want to give hope to others, listen to them just like God who listened and waited for us to come to Him. If you think you can’t help, just listen to them. The fact that you offer and give  them your time and attention, would make them feel that there is hope in life.

Offer Help. Do a random act of kindness. For example, you can help your parents plan on what you can help for the preparation of Christmas. You can help with the house decorations or for your meal plan. Another is that you can give help to street-dwellers by giving them food or even asking them what kind of help they need.

Be hopeful yourself. Remember, we cannot give what we do not have. Show people that you’re negative then they too will think negative but when you show them hope, joy and even love, they too would feel the same. If you want others to become hopeful, be a person full of hope. Work hard and be a source of sunshine and hope for others.

In this season of advent, we are invited to join in God’s patient love by reaching out to those who have wounded us in the past, by giving ourselves to those who do not reciprocate our love and by caring for those who have not cared for us. In Advent, we are called to remember that this is how God has loved us. Let us also take time to remember at this time that God is both the light at the end of a long tunnel and our faithful companion who will never desert or abandon us.

To all the youth, I have a challenge for you. Take time to sprinkle love and hope and in order for this to happen,  I  challenge you to become bearers of Love and Hope to the world. Hangga’t tayo ay nabubuhay tayo ay patuloy na magmamahal at umaasa.


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