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Fourth Sunday of Advent

On the evening of December 17, my officemate and I were on a Makati-bound bus after a satisfying department Christmas dinner held at a Korean grill. We were seated on the fourth row behind the driver. My officemate was narrating to me how last week he almost fell victim to the “dura-dura” gang that was preying on public bus commuters. Two young men standing in the aisle caught my eye. They seemed to be crowding in on a lady passenger seated on the third row across from us as the bus halted to pick up passengers in front of Megamall.

“Ano ba!” shrieked the young lady as the man pulled her hair. Then quickly the two

young thieves got off the bus. “Yung cellphone ko!” she cried, as she hurriedly took her things and ran after the men.

My officemate and I were stunned. Everything just happened so fast! The next morning, one of our teachers messaged the office to say she lost one of a pair of glittery gloves while commuting home. She too fell victim to a pickpocket!

With these three incidents, I didn’t know how or what to feel. My thoughts suddenly

went into overdrive. I became more and more anxious and worried for my daughters, as well as for my husband and I, as we commute daily on buses. When I reached home, I quickly shared what I witnessed on the bus to my family. After doing so, I decided to take a very deep breath and focus my anxious thoughts on Matthew 1:18–25, the Gospel for today.

“Immanuel . . . God with us . . . Immanuel . . . God with us . . . Immanuel . . . God with us . . .” I slowly repeated to myself. I spoke thus to my mind, to my heart, and to my soul until I felt God’s peace fill my whole being.

God our Creator, our Ancient of Days, our Eternal Father, is with us through His Son Incarnate—our Lord Jesus Christ—our Immanuel. Though the darkness of people’s depravity encroaches round about to terrorize us by night; though a storm of men’s scheming arrows flies by day to steal our joy; though thousands fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, yet all these things shall not come near us. (Psalm 91:5–7) We have His grace and peace, for in our Immanuel God has shown us His great salvation!

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