Jl. Kelapa Hijau - Bukit Indah Sukajadi - Batam 29642

  SVD Batam SOVERDIA (Awam SVD) Pelayanan Kitab Suci Pelayananan Internasional Liturgi dan Devosi Tirta Wacana  

Advent 2014  Advent Notes
year end diary

"Our main task is to proclaim the Good News, which should be done in such a way that pictures the glory of the Gospel, that leads people to acknowledge that Divine revelation exists in our witness" (SVD Constitutions, 107)

  My Advent in Batam:
Hope, Love, Joy and Peace
by Aurelius Pati Soge, SVD  
................................................................................................................................ Sunday, November 30, 2014

FINISHING MY SUNDAY DUTIES (30/11/2014), I then go out strolling around the Sukajadi neighbourhood to enjoy afternoon free time. I rarely do so, as Sunday is mainly a busy day for me. When I end up at the Kepri Mall, a well known business centre in Batam, I instantly notice the atmosphere of Christmas. An artificial Christmas tree has been erected at the main entrance, accompanied by two figures of Santa Claus playing trumpets. A little been inside the mall, an imitation of sleigh with two reindeers, glimmering in the flashing lights dominate the scene. A few feet away, an ice skating arena is full of children playing, screaming and shouting with joy. Meanwhile, Christmas songs are on air, creating such a unique atmosphere for all. Christmas sounds familiar to all people, noticeable most of them are not Christians, wandering around and enjoying the bright sunny afternoon. While in the church we are still at the beginning of Advent Season, this beautiful scene eventually pictures an irony that many people are not aware of. Christmas is too commercialized now and Advent is almost disappeared behind the curtain. What is the meaning of Advent for us today?
advent 1-1
Artificial Christmas tree at the main entrance of Kepri Mall, Batam

ONE cannot fully comprehend the Advent without grasping the core message of Christmas. While our modern world tends to reduce the real meaning of Christmas as one of the greatest events in Christianity to just a year-end holiday, it is our duty as Christians to re-highlight it, in order to remind the world of its root. Jesus, the word became flesh, was born into human society as a child, commonly considered as the fruit of a family, Joseph and Mary. Yet, we also know that it was the will of God that made it happen, because Jesus was conceived and born of Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. So, the Divine role is undeniable, yet the human role proves to be crucial, too.

THE whole drama took the first step when Mary freely accepted the role of being the mother of Jesus. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said”, said Mary (Lk 1:38). And then, Joseph, after struggling with his conscience, accepted unconditionally his role as the father of the Messiah. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and took his wife to his home” (Mt 1:25). This biblical quotation pictures the maturity of Joseph’s and Mary’s personality in every sense. In modern fashion, we might say, that the two of them have both spiritual and emotional intelligence, two crucial pillars among many needed for a dignified life. However, the main value is the goal of the coming of Jesus, which pictures the divine vision for the world, as mentioned in the nocturnal dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life”, said Jesus (Jn 3:16). Here we have three crucial elements, i.e. (1) Mary’s total surrender to the will of God, (2) Joseph’s competence of overcoming his doubt and (3) God’s sincere intention to save everybody from the power of the darkness.

BEARING in mind these three points, let us return to our main subject, the Advent. The essence of Advent is a spiritual preparation for Christmas. Therefore, Advent covers almost the whole history of humankind since Adam and Eve, the first human creatures committed sins in Eden, up to the birth of Jesus. To some extent, it is extended to the time of John the Baptist, prior to Jesus’ public life and ministry. Throughout these centuries of Advent, God constantly had revealed his love and desire to set up a role model for all, what it meant to live in the constant protection of heavenly Father. He even partially executed his plan through his many messengers, such as patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets. Therefore, even this long period of Advent did not witness the completion of God’s plan, it eventually experienced God’s loving presence and his constant protection for all people. God’s messengers had proclaimed hope, witnessed love, brought joy and restored peace among nations.

THESE four dimensions of Advent are still very relevant for our Christian communities, even for our common society today. Christians need hope, love, joy and peace, so does the whole world. But the world seems to lose its ground. Hope, love, joy and peace often no longer make sense as the world often impose them with power, money or even arms. It is certainly not compatible with Christian values, as our reference is Jesus’ compassion and sincerity. People like to enjoy hope, love, joy and peace and gain benefits from them but do not want to pay the price. How could such this notion sustain the essence of hope, love, joy and peace, in a world that is coloured by human egoism? So, basically there will be no true hope, love, joy and peace without compassion and sincerity.

  1. HOPE: in a world that is marked by the culture of death, our faith offers a glimpse of hope for many people. Pope Francis’ openness to the world sends the messages to all, even to non Christian communities, that hope still exists. It does not fade away. So, our duty is to send the messages of hope to the needy. We mourn the lost, encourage the hopeless, help the helpless, etc. As it can be done by anybody, it is crucial for Christians to contribute in such distinctive way many people cannot, i.e. to pray that hope will be restored in the society that seems to be totally ignorant of the goal of life.

  2. LOVE: in a world that is marked by hedonism, love tends to lose its meanings. Many people simply reach the stage of love as nothing but biological pleasure of sexual intercourse. Some might be able to move farther but still far from metaphysical dimension of love, because the true love is actually an unconditional self-giving for the sake of others. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcuta could be remembered as the modern icon of this unconditional love amid reckless criticism from radical secularists such as Christopher Hitchens and others. It is good to initiate such ministries to reach out marginalised people abandoned by the society, such as orphans, lonely elders, prison inmates, victims of human trafficking, etc. They represent Jesus who longs for our true love.

  3. JOY: when the world sees joy as a part of human pleasure, our faith offers a very distinctive picture. As our Christian faith is inseparable from the cross, people might easily get wrong picture of our belief. They even think there couldn’t be real joy in Christian life if it is very much attached to the cross. For centuries this notion has not faded away. In Apostolic Exhortation of Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis emphasises the need to evoke the real joy. “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved” (Pope Francis, 2013: EG, 6). Nobody is excluded from this invitation, but it is Christians’ duty to prove to the world, that our joy is real, meaningful and alive. If we do not live that joy simply because we do not know how to do so, Advent should be the right time to dig a little deeper to discover them.

  4. PEACE: in a world that has no more real sense of peace, our faith offers a very distinctive meaning of peace. Peace is not just a matter of emotional description, but a fruit of human collaboration and network, engaging all matters of human life, nature and universe. We lose peace when there is no trust based on compassion and sincerity. There is no compassion and sincerity, when we have no willingness to sacrifice. Sacrifice could be painful, but it is also joyful when we wholeheartedly do for a righ purpose. Recently, The Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI – Konferensi Wali Gereja Indonesia) and The Union of Christian Churches in Indonesia (PGI – Persekutuan Gereja-gereja Indonesia) issued a joint pastoral message for all Christians in Indonesia, in which our Christian leaders raised family as a model for all (cf. Pesan Natal Bersama KWI-PGI Tahun 2014). Jesus is born in a family, consequently it changes the image of family from a union of blood-line to a union of faithful around Jesus. But being around Jesus requires a lot of sacrifices, as people have to drop their own agendas and simply follow the will of God, a way of life that is unthinkable by modern societies which strongly emphasise individual liberty. Individual liberty is certainly a great value, but when it moves to liberalism and undermines spiritual surrender to the will of God, it becomes a though opponent of peace the way Christians understand and live. Christians should promote the purity of peace, based on true sacrifice, compassion and sincerity. Our role model is Jesus, and our fertile soil is family. When we succeed planting this seed in Christian families, we will have more opportunities to witness to the world, that the true peace, based on sacrifice, compassion and sincerity, is not impossible.


WE ARE at the threshold of Christmas. We have right to enjoy the beauty of Christmas and all luxuries provided. Many might plan to buy new clothes and delicious foods, to see Christmas carols, to spend times abroad, etc. We might go across the strait to Singapore to enjoy the city Christmas decoration, as if all Singaporean are Christians during the year-end. Many expatriate workers rush to buy cheaper tickets for home leave. Eventually, Christmas is a time for family reunion, and it is good to be with them all. It will strengthen many for tougher life in the future.  Yet, remember, that we have a mission to accomplish. What is that mission?

  • FIRSTLY, let me remind you again the meaning of Christmas, the benchmark of Advent. Christmas is a celebration the mystery of incarnation, the fulfilment of God’s plan to save all humankind. Therefore, Christmas means nothing when it is separated from the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus. Christmas proclaims the joy, Easter confirms it. Christmas has just one goal, i.e. to remind us that God’s passion is underway. We are invited to bear the same cross with Him. For this mission, we need to adopt the emotional and spiritual intelligence that once belonged to Mary and Joseph: total surrender to the will of God and being able to overcome our doubt in following God’s will. All these will lead us to recognise the power of Jesus’ love.

  • SECONDLY, let us remember, that Christian communities around the world have an everlasting duty of witnessing the Kingdom of God to the world. Today, there will be no better messages for the world but these four dimensions of Advent, i.e. hope, love, joy and peace. When we live these values in our world today, eventually the Kingdom of God takes her shape now, and certainly sends the message of divine love to all. Consequently, our witness becomes more attractive, powerful and persuasive, and people have more opportunity of seeing the real image of God's family.

To end the note of the day, let me quote the Prophet Isaiah, once again:




“From the stump of Jesse a shot will come forth;
from his root a branch will grow and bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and power, a Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.

Not by appearance will he judge, nor by what is said must he decide,
but with justice he will judge the poor and with righteousness decide for the meek.
Like a rod, his word will strike the oppressor,
and the breath of his lips slays the wicked.
Justice will be the girdle of his waist, truth the girdle of his loins.

The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid,
the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them.
Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together.
Like cattle, the lion will eat hay.
By the cobra’s den the infant will play.
The child will put his hand into the viper’s lair.

No one will harm or destroy over my holy mountain,
for as water fills the sea' the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.”
(Is 11:1-9)





All stories by TIRTA WACANA Team except where otherwise noted. All rights reserved. | design: (c) aurelius pati soge