By Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD
“Is this for me?”
These were the striking words the Holy Father spoke to me during my papal audience with him last month. I had just handed him our signature Kristo sa Kariton (KSK).
To others, it may have seemed obvious that the gift was for him, but his eyes were bright with questioning wonder and expectation. They also seemed to ask, “What is God up to by bringing you here? What does He want to tell us through this encounter and through this gift?”
After getting flustered for a few seconds from being so close to the Vicar of Christ on earth, I explained to him what and who the KSK figures represented. It was only fitting that on behalf of the Foundation I would be able to enjoy the privilege of giving Pope Francis a KSK, which for us represents the God-Man Jesus, who came to journey with us in pain, grief, and suffering. He was born to us, to live, and to die with us. Truly, He is present even in the poor boy on the street.
This encounter reminded me also of two other icons of faith. Placed side by side with the Advent wreath, the Nativity scene shows us how the Word Incarnate brought His masterplan into play. Each of the four Advent candle represents characters in the Christmas story:
- The Prophets;
- Mary and Joseph (Bethlehem candle);
- The Shepherds;
- The Angels
Each figure represents a mission, a special call, as we await the coming of the Savior. But prior to embracing the mission heaven had destined for them, they probably asked the same question we ask even to this day: “Is this for me?” The first two figures, the Prophets and the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, call to mind our homeless. They all represent the marginalized, the rejected, the disenfranchised in search of a home, of meaning, and belongingness. With us, they also ask the question, “Is this for me?”
The next two groups of characters, the Shepherds and the Angels, are, on the other hand, like the EJK victims who continue to cry for justice. They herald the Good News amid the “bad news” that form the narrative of the lives of many EJK families.
Prior to embracing the mission heaven had destined for them, they probably asked the same question we ask even to this day: “Is this for me?”
We realize that Advent isn’t just about merry making. It’s not just pure bliss; the first Christmas had its share of struggles with injustice and the search for peace and belongingness, which will only be realized when Christ comes. Only then we can sing, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”
This Advent, let us prepare our hearts and pray; embrace our penance; and persevere in our mission.
We do all of these with the Christmas joy that can only come from Christ. KSK just like Advent depicts an image of gratitude and joy. It even summons us to become bearers of good tidings and joy.
May the Divine Word find in us open and humble hearts ready for Him to once again be born in our midst!