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Straighten your crooked ways

In the gospel reading this 2nd Sunday of Advent, Jesus’ forerunner John the Baptist’s message to all creatures is: “Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand.” Unless we change our course to God’s way, we are headed for destruction.

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John the Baptist uses a metaphor about road building and repair, saying: “Make the ground level,” “straighten the crooked ways,” “make the rough roads smooth” ( Lk 3,5).

The prophet is not concerned about road repairs (although their message is a timely reminder for our DPWH officials to fix our rough and potholed roads!). The Baptist is conveying the message that the morally crooked ways must be eradicated, the rough edges of our character be made smooth and warped attitudes straightened.
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Why must we “straighten our crooked ways”? John the Baptist already said unless you reform, you are headed to perdition.

Gunar Myrdal, renowned author of the voluminous book Asian Drama, a monumental, in-depth study on the Third World countries, says that one major drawback to economic progress of nations is attributed to their negativistic traits and values. In other words, it means where there are corrupt public officials, disunity or crab mentality, economic progress is hampered.

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On the individual level, our selfishness, greed, insensitivity are the cause of other’s untold sufferings and anguish. Consider the cold-blooded slaying of suspected drug dealers and other offenders, did the perpetrators ever think of the misery they inflicted on the orphaned families?

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The same can be said about an unfeeling husband who spends lavishly for his barkada, but has no money for his children’s sustenance.

The gospel reading for this Sunday has also a message of URGENCY. John the Baptist asserts, “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the tree.”

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John the Baptist is telling us in more contemporary words, like: “If you’re thinking of making a Christmas confession, do it now. If you’re planning to be reconciled with someone, now’s the time. If you’re considering doing good to others, don’t dilly-dally. Do it now.”

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Why wait until some sickness strikes before we start getting rid of some evil habits like smoking or excessive drinking, cursing, gossiping, or watching TV too much?

According to the writer Omar Ibn Al Halif , “Four things come not back–the spoken word, the sped arrow, the time past, the neglected opportunity.”

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Advent is an opportune time to welcome Christ into our lives by bearing fruits of good deeds.

And consider this: “Every tree that is not fruitful,” John the Baptist warns, “will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

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LAFF WITH GOD. A house painter was widely suspected of cheating his customers by diluting his paint. Somehow he managed to get a job painting a church. True to form, he began painting the church with watered down paint.

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But, as he was just about finished with the job, a sudden heavy rainstorm washed away his work. And he heard a voice from above saying, “Repaint and thin no more!”

The Advent message: “Repent and sin no more.” (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)

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