Dr John Mohan Razu
We as Christians are in the Season of Advent, awaiting to commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Entire 2020 was COVID-19 centric. Entire world was swayed by the dictates of coronavirus. It dominated the humanity in such ways that every single activity came to a grinding halt. None dared to defy and those who defied had to pay the price. Everyone was asked to follow COVID appropriate behaviour which means that our behavioural patterns should be in congruent to the ways protecting our lives. Christmas services and festive activities had to be cancelled since coronavirus was on a devastative mood.
In the year 2021 people thought that they would be much better than the previous one, but the passage has never been so definitive, but had to be carefully treaded. In the last few months Church services and other activities went on like pre-COVID-19 times. Gradually others activities have been gradually relaxed and thus signalled to normalcy. Christians all over wanted to celebrate Christians in gaiety. Many did make huge plans, but Omicron variant of coronavirus all of a sudden appeared and gradually picking up its speed and spreading to countries including India.
As against the such a backdrop, WHO says that the new Omicron VOVID-19 variant could become dominant potential threat because though considered mild but is regarded as highly transmissible and thus travels faster and farther. Whether the new variant virus Omicron would be lethal or not, it is yet to be seen in the coming weeks. Experts are now contemplating not knowing exactly its characteristics booster doses to an extent could prevent serious illness to those who have been infected. However, many experts say that it is early to say or to comment anything about it. Nonetheless it is predicted that Omicron likely to infect children more.
Nevertheless, everyone by and large is contemplating whether to go ahead as planned or not. Currently, the West is badly hit by the coronavirus. Omicron variant is spreading like wild fire all around the world and is infecting whoever crosses its ways. Travel plans, entertainments, large gatherings and many others may be severely affected in due course of time as the intensity and gravity of new variant is so horrendous. A few questions that surface are: Have we come back to square-one? When are we going to be completely out of COVID-19 variants? Is new-normal a permanent way of life or will we be hit by some other variant?
As against the backdrop, for Christians, what does Advent mean? How are we going to leverage the Advent of Jesus Christ as the most significant and meaningful one as the context in which humans live keeps changing? While tracing some of the Messianic prophecies we find varying types such as time-bound, person-centric, fulfilment-based; while there are others having New Testament application of the Old Testament candidly mentioning specific individuals thereby leaving no guesses, whereas there are others that specifically identifying individuals as Christ.
Messianic predictions that have been pointed by and large were vague and filled with uncertainties, except a few that came to so close. However, one or two predictions in nuanced ways identified who was that Messiah be. As we are few weeks away to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ who became incarnate as a human identifying with humans by being born in a manger. Humanity is thus authenticated and essentialised by this act wherein the Messiah, the Lord of All and Prince of Peace, so that the world of humans who live shall thus be redeemed and saved.
Advent—2021 is indeed path-breaking offering new grounds for the world in which we live to reflect, re-interpret and ponder-over. Humanity is in dire-straits totally jilted and wilted their resolve and resilience, not knowing how to cope up the fluidity of times they live. The times they live is posing most compelling questions and totally bleak future. Four Sundays that culminate in the Christ-coming to earth will have to reflect upon a sizable global population who undergo a series of unprecedented moments that haunts their very existence not just theirs but also their children and grand-children.
The future of the Planet is now in dire-straits as the humans have devastated the Planet Earth for their selfish gains and self-interests. We have been experiencing erratic weather conditions – heavy floods, rains, droughts and wild-fires. We live in times of nature’s fury and so the dialectic between Planet Earth and the existence of humans is solely dependent on how well we take care of our Mother Earth. Likewise, those who want to have quality of life leave their countries that are torn apart in wars, conflicts, poverty, hunger and squalid conditions by sea routes on boats, on road in containers and rough terrains by foot, facing all kinds of obstacles.
We are in the Season of Advent that ought to propel us to consider those whose lives remains bleak and hopeless. Those who have been grossly impacted and affected by the actions of others of their greediness and selfishness are in our midst. They are the refugees and migrants due to environmental, social, economic, socio-cultural and religious as well. There is a huge section who have lost their parents, kith and kin and their dear ones due to pandemics. Never in the recent history of humans’ humanity has faced such grave and gruelling problems. While crossing by sea, foot and road many died especially the young millennial and children.
It is the moment of survival of many who have been rejected and dejected by the forces of humans as well as nature. Their hope and confidence need to be re-kindled and re-assured as they keep simmering. Humanity is in a state of shock, hopelessness and in total chaos. What then is the way out? From where do the hope come? The hope in a Season of Advent is the coming of Messiah to us. God in Jesus coming to the world of humans to be with us. This is the salvific moment for the humans as God in Jesus taking the human form to live in a world of humans.
We await the moment of God in Jesus coming into the world – the Messiah, the Harbinger of Hope and the Prince of Peace. Advent means awaiting in hope and with hope for our Lord and Saviour coming to us – this is the Moment of Truth – God in Jesus Coming to the world of humans is the zenith, the penultimate and the essence. As we read in John 10:10b “… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus coming to us offering abundant life is the crux of Advent which instils hope to the present and the future.