Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6
The Second Sunday of Advent may well be called “Sunday of the Public Works and Highways”. The prophet Baruch in our first reading and Christ forerunner John the Baptist talk about road building and repair. “Make the ground level,” “straighten the crooked ways,” and “make the rough road smooth,” (Bar 5:8, Lk 3:5).
Both prophets are not, however, concern about road repairs, although their words serve well to remind our DPWH authorities to fix our present bad roads. The prophets are conveying a message that the morally crooked ways must be eradicated, the rough edges of our character must be made smooth and warped attitudes straightened.
Poetically, John uses image of the road to show how we can either encourage or impede God’s entrance into our lives, (The primitive roads and nameless path traveled by the Baptist were a great contrast – winding, rough and mountainous John understands, like the present day highway builders, that the more hazards removed, the better the road). Like for example, as reported in Philippine Daily Inquirer dated Dec. 3, 1994, when Sharon Cuneta was invited as guest of honor in the grand opening of a new shopping mall in Pasay City, while motorists fumed and cursed for hours due to the traffic jam at Taft Ave., vendors from nearby Libertad public market and curious passersby gamely crowded the narrow island in front of the Masagana Citimall waiting for the actress arrival.
A sign was even put up at the mall’s narrow parking lot that says, “This space is reserved for Ms. Sharon Cuneta.
Once informed that the actress is finally arriving, traffic cops immediately cleared the street in just a few minutes. Jeeps and cars bound for Manila were ordered to use the parallel Burgos St. instead. So, the car of Sharon Cuneta ran smoothly, anyway, she’s the daughter of the mayor of Pasay City.
Another example could be that: Sen. Angara said that General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) is needed to sustain our growth. He further said that a rejection of GATT would just be like a coup d’ etat which will stop our growth. “The Philippines should ratify the GATT if it wants to sustain the 5.9% economic growth it posted in the third quarter of this year,” pro-GATT Senators said as reported in Philippine Daily Inquirer dated Dec 3, 1994. Anyway US Senate has approved it on December 2, 1994 with a 76-24 votes that broke an age-old taboo by allowing foreign rice imports into its market over the objection of domestic farmers. GATT reduces trade barriers, where both parties have equal rights to exploit natural resources of one’s country.
The Advent Season invites us to self-examination leading to self-reform. God’s kingdom is a rule over man’s hearts and to belong to it means a change of heart manifested in a change for the better.
Advent is a challenge to repentance. It is a challenge to do something for God.
We have some crazy ideas about repentance. One is that repentance is feeling guilty (Pakonsyensya effect) or feeling sorry for not trying to be better person. This is a part of repentance but not the total essence of repentance at all.
I experienced this when a 60-year old woman said that she fought back her parents. In other words, feeling guilty. “I always feel guilty when I fight with my wife. She cries and it makes me feel depressed.” ‘I go to Mass everyday, but I still keep on talking bad about my friends; I have hurt my brother and I always say I’m not going to do it again, but then I do.” Feeling guilty is not repentance but just empty words and promises with no substance at all.
True repentance is:
- We are sorry to God because we have sinned against Him. We’re not sorry because we got caught or we are going to be punished. We’re not sorry because we have hurt someone else. We’re sorry because of God, because he loves us more than we realize and we have played a dirty trick on Him when we sinned. We have unfaithful lovers in return (Ps 51:4).
- Don’t just feel guilty, don’t just be sorry, and don’t just make promises to repent, show me!” (From: My fair Lady).
- Honest acceptance of our sinfulness. Even psychologist will tell you that the beginning of all real conversion and change is the acceptance of what we have done. Only in truth can repentance begin. Do not justify your sins, (Prov. 28:13).
- A turning away from sin and turning towards God.
How to do it? Practice it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. Practice the beautiful, loving, caring person God made you to be. You can be sure that the “morally crooked ways” in you will be straightened and the “rough edges” of your character will be smoothened.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C