First Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Mark 13: 33-37
Luis is nineteen years old. He is young and married. He is always on the watch.
He is on the list, his friends told him so. And anytime they will come to get him. In the day or at night, no one knows when.
Once they came but Luis was out. And they came again, his mother told him. Because of this, he is always on the watch. He is always awake. He does not sleep. He could not sleep.
They came for his friend; he was released but he said he was tortured. They came for his father-in-law; he is still there in prison. They came for his brother-in-law; he is now dead.
They came for Luis again; and they told his mother to make him report to the station.
Then one day, they came and they saw him on his way home. They required a drug test right where he was, in the middle of the street. There were several of them – policemen, purok leaders, barangay people. He felt obliged even if he did not want to. He felt coerced. They asked him to pee at the side to make the drug test. He did and succumbed. But he did not test positive as their list dictated. They shook the instrument to make sure. He is negative, to their dismay. But they still asked him to report to the station.
When he did not, they came again. Each night, he could not sleep. He keeps watch for fear of what might happen to him. With his mother, he came to the church trembling. I asked him if he wants to report to the police. “So that he can sleep,” his mother suggests.
He said no. The price could be too much – torture or death, endless interrogation and betrayal. For they might ask him to include his friends in the drug list so as to set him free. We agreed that he goes away to a far place to escape.
But even there, he is still on the watch. Still sleep does not come. Fear does not leave.
In advent, at Christmas, not everyone watch with joy and excitement. Some wait in fear and trembling. Not all who watch wait for the “Lord of life”. Some wait for “lords of death”. Not everyone who watch wait for the Son to be born. Some watch in fear that their sons will be killed.
And while all these happen in daytime or at night, many of us go on with our busy lives without knowing.
While some of us – maybe as many as eighty percent – clap and cheer!
Daniel Franklin Pilario. C.M.
St. Vincent School of Theology
[Credits to Amnesty International for the photo.]