Straighten your crooked ways

Published December 5, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD


Fr. Bel San Luis

Some years ago when I was assigned at the Divine Word College of Legazpi, Albay, I visited an elderly SVD confrere who was a director of a high school in Sorsogon.

A social mixer, he got invited to dine in friends’ houses. He liked it because that saved him from cooking his meal and food budget as well.

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One afternoon we were invited to a sumptuous lunch. As we sat in one corner busy, doing justice to our overflowing plate, I leaned closed to my confrere and whispered: “Father, ano ba itong malaking handaan?” (What’s this big celebration?) He looked at me, stepped on my foot, and said: “Huwag kang maingay. Hindi ko rin alam. Basta’t kumain ka na lang ng kumain.” (Keep quiet. I also don’t know. Just keep on eating)

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That amiable confrere passed away, but that experience somehow illustrates how we celebrate our Christmas year in and year out. For don’t we tend to “eat, drink and be merry,” and forget why in the world we’re doing all this? How would you feel if guests come to your birthday party and don’t even bother to greet you but go straight to the dining table?

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Many look forward to Christmas as the most joyful event of the year although for most of us, it’s not so happy and merry this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic which have caused the devastating health and economic crisis.

However, Christmas will still and should always be happy because it’s the birthday of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the son of God, came into our world in order to save us from sin and death.

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The trouble is that our modern society has commercialized Christmas so much that we’ve mistaken the icing from the cake and have forgotten why we are celebrating. The truth is that Christmas is, first and foremost, a religious event — the coming of Jesus Christ.

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In this second Sunday of Advent, the prophet Baruch (first reading) and Christ’s forerunner John the Baptist talk about road building and repair: “Make the ground level,” “straighten the crooked ways,” “make the rough roads smooth” (Baruch 5:8; Lk 3:5).

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Both prophets are not, however, concerned about road repairs (although their message is a timely reminder for our DPWH officials to fix our rough and potholed roads!). The prophets are conveying in typical Jewish metaphor the message that the morally crooked ways be eradicated, the rough edges of our character be made smooth. In short, repent and reform our lives.

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Why must we straighten our crooked ways? Gunar Myrdal, renowned author of the voluminous book Asian Drama, an in-depth study on the Third World countries, says that one major drawback to economic progress of poor nations is attributed to their negativistic traits and attitudes. In other words, where there are corrupt practices, greed, social injustices, the country’s economy does not progress.

Author Gunar Myrdal observes that ill-gotten wealth stashed away by corrupt politicians, whether here or abroad, makes a country poorer.

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In the coming national election, what’s important and crucial is to vote for a good and qualified leader — one who has a political experience and an unblemished track record of honesty, and works for the people’s common good.

On the contrary, let’s not vote for candidates whose political track record and personal background are tainted with corruption even if they have huge amounts to dole out.

If we don’t vote wisely, nobody’s to blame but ourselves. And that means suffering for another six years.

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