|St. John the Baptist of Quiapo Church|
Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
The 2nd Sunday of Advent leads us into the desert to see St. John the Baptist, who was sent as a messenger ahead of the Lord in order to prepare his way. The message of the Baptist is clearly an invitation to conversion, an invitation to repentance: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. This sounds very much like an infrastructure project for the DPWH but seriously, it is a serious, no nonsense demand for conversion.
Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight his path: in geometry, we have a principle that says “the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line.” Thus, we have the call to make straight a highway for God. How to we make a straight highway? First, we level everything: valleys are filled in and mountains and hills are made low. Valleys are depressions of land between 2 mountains or hills. Mountains and hills, on the other hand, are excesses of land. There are valleys because mountains and hills have taken more land than they should. Therefore, how do we make a straight highway for the Lord? We have to level the excess land of mountains and hills and use it to fill in the valleys. In other words, the excesses of some should be given to augment what others lack. This is obviously a demand for conversion that goes beyond sentimental devotions. This conversion brings about social change.
Again, there are valleys because mountains and hills have taken more than they should. In other words, there is poverty because some of us have taken more of the share of the goods of the earth. When the Lord created the world for man, he intended that each individual should have an equal share of the goods of the earth. But when some take more than their allotted share, this would mean that the others would have to be deprived of what should have been theirs. When only a privileged few enjoy the bigger share of the goods of the earth, the greater majority are left to fight over the smaller share that is left. Therefore, if we want to build a straight highway for the Lord, then we must trim our excesses so that we could give the necessities to those who in need. Remember, the Lord blesses you not to increase your wealth. Rather, he blesses you to increase your generosity. I really think that this is the conversion that the Lord desires: trim our excesses in order to address the hunger of others. Pope Francis himself criticizes our culture of waste which is the very reason for the phenomenon of world hunger. Executives have hefty bonuses while many rank and file workers are not even paid what is fair. Some take more than what they can consume and by doing so, they deprive many others of their bare necessities. Perhaps, the strong typhoon in the middle of the holidays should be an invitation, or better yet, a challenge to increase in generosity by cutting down on luxuries. We should level the mountains of our excesses in order to fill the valleys. This is the more meaningful conversion demanded of us in the Year of the Poor.
St. Peter tells us in the 2nd reading: the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found out. Our old prayers used to say: the Lord will judge everything with fire. This means that on judgment day, everything that does not belong to Christ will be burned. And what are the elements that do not belong to Christ? They are our excesses. Di ba we are always told to burn our fats? Fats are our excesses. Therefore, if we want to withstand the fire on judgment day, we should trim our “fats,” trim our excesses. How? By sharing with those who have none. Ibigay ang hindi kailangan. Ibigay ang hindi ginagamit. Conversion is a call to simplicity. Conversion is a challenge to frugality. Level the mountains and fill in the valleys. Prepare a straight highway for our God!
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!