Jesus Christ did not have a birthday cake when he was born. But love could be sent to someone in need via cakes. It was that thought which touched my heart while eating at a canteen I had decided to celebrate Advent in a new way.
Waiting has never been easy. Ask any student in Advent what their wish was. They would unanimously say, “Christmas holidays”. They wanted so much to jump to the ending that waiting became uncomfortable and unbearable.
IS WAITING THAT DIFFICULT?
No one has waited that long like God, ever since the Trinity decided that Jesus be born to the human race, birthed in a virgin, raised in Nazareth, preached three years and experienced the Paschal Mystery. “Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations” (Matthew 1: 17).
Jesus was born on a silent night. The chain of events preceding that holy night were paradoxically set in motion, starting from Mary’s visiting Elizabeth, to Joseph’s intention of divorcing Mary, to Joseph taking Mary for enrollment in Bethlehem and to looking for an inn for delivery. Likewise, the Advent before Christmas could be spent in haste if we do not pause for a minute and contemplate like Mary: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
I discussed the new Advent idea with the Catholics and the teachers, and the whole plan about how to warm human hearts was crystallized in about a week or so. Just as Jesus rested at peace in Mary’s womb, the Advent activity “Buy Someone A Cake” –initiated and guided by the Holy Spirit– lay safely in the hands of God.
The way of participation was simple: A student or teacher paid in advance for a cake, which would be given to someone else chosen by lot in school.
The response was overwhelmingly encouraging: 490 cakes had been ordered, and delivered to the chosen teachers and students on the last day of class during the fourth week of Advent.
Being chosen was a great joy; being chosen to be part of God’s loving plan was simply a grace.
There were some Martha taking orders, buying cakes and doing advertising, just like the pilgrims — Joseph and Mary — en route to Bethlehem. The Martha in motion may forget the big aim when she was so caught up with the act of doing. On that holy night, God also gave hints to the shepherds and the Three Kings via the star and the angel because He loved to lead them to the Truth. I was aware, too, it was my job to give guidance to the group I was working with and to the participants in the activity.
We selected a few significant points like morning assembly to do special Advent prayers. The aim was to link the event to the birth of Baby Jesus and most importantly, the implications to our life. For example, in the theme “The Joy of Waiting,” students were reminded of the beauty of waiting. As we waited, we could pray for the sponsors, for the recipients, for those who experienced physical and spiritual hunger every day. When they got their cakes that afternoon, we shared with them another theme on “Giving Thanks”, how Jesus — the greatest gift for humankind — showed us the joy of giving, the joy of appreciation and the joy of knowing that we were loved.
I mused on the whole picture, sensing the joyful excitement of receiving the infant Christ among us, seeing His sweetest face, together with Mary, in the crib and marveling at the most loving touch of God at each point He led in the activity.
That was a silent night; a night when God’s light shone through my heart.
“That was the real light — the light that comes into the world and shines on all mankind.” (John 1:9)