Reflect Emmanuel

December 05

Reflect Emmanuel is a series of Advent meditations on Emmanuel, our God with us

December 5, 2013

Jennifer Roy, Campus Minister for Retreats, Spirituality and Prayer

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace,
for its trust in you.”

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.
(from Isaiah 26: 1-6)

I could not help but reflect upon Typhoon Haiyan with today’s readings as the stories and images of faith and hope emerge from the death and destruction. Two of these stories and images serve as reminders to me of the Filipinos’ deep trust and faith in the Lord. Regardless of what may tumble to the ground, be leveled by dust and trampled upon, the Lord is our rock and manifests love for us through moments of awe, hope, and strength throughout our global community.

Typhoon Haiyan left both death and destruction in its path, but there is one symbol - a giant Jesus statue - that is serving as a sign of hope to the local residents (who are largely Catholic) after it was left unscathed on Calvary Hill in the coastal town of Tanauan in central Philippines. In what is being called a miracle, the nearly two stories tall statue survived the typhoon that destroyed nearly everything else in the region. It remains standing amidst the ruins, Christ's arms outstretched over the town's damaged lands (Associated Press).

Although Typhoon Haiyan caused the roof of the 16th-century cathedral to collapse and destroy much of the interior furnishings, Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du decided to ordain priests in the skeletal church as a sign of hope for the Catholic community. The ordination occurred in Palo, located a few miles south of Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte. As clergy and hundreds of faithful filled the church in bright sunshine, blue lightweight coverings strung from the cathedral’s walls provided some shade for the congregation as the new priests, who will play a major role in helping Catholics reeling from the typhoon’s effects, vowed to serve the church and God in ministering to the people of the archdiocese. Father Amadeo Alvero, the archdiocese’s spokesman stated: “We may have lost everything, but our faith is becoming stronger ever. No trial or storm or typhoon can destroy our resolve to have faith in Jesus. And it should be manifested in action” (UCA News).

Inspired by Isaiah and the strength of the Filipino people, may our firm purpose in faith be manifested in our actions this Advent season.