Saturday, December 13, 2008



A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say about yourself?” He said: “ ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Right in the middle of World War II, when there seemed to be no end in sight as each side appeared to be bent on attaining the total annihilation of the other, a voice rose above the universal devastation. It spoke of better days and a “new world order” based on justice, mutual respect, collaboration and authentic Christian love. It was the voice of Pope Pius XII, who spoke to the whole world, especially through his Christmas and Easter Messages.

Echoing the Pope’s words of hope, and expanding their implications and application, an Italian Jesuit – Fr. Riccardo Lombardi – founded the “Movement for a Better World” which grew fast, especially in Europe and South America. Fr. Lombardi toured one nation after another, bringing to all the good news that a better world was possible, and that Christians had to work together to make that dream a reality.

The plan and the strategies were clear: to return to God and make Him the center of one’s life and plans; to take the Gospel as the guiding principle for a new type of relationship among individuals and nations. Many believed in that message and started working along those lines in the brave attempt to do their best to usher in a new era of peace, collaboration and solidarity.

It must have been the same thing when the prophet Isaiah announced a “year of favor from the Lord” to the exiles in Babylon, making them dream of the day they would go back to their land and rebuild their homes and their hope. His inspired words made the difference in the lives of the Israelites and in the history of the whole nation at that time.

The same message was echoed along the banks of the River Jordan by John the Baptizer when he started preparing the hearts of people for the real “year of favor from the Lord” which was to be ushered in by the promised Messiah. The people had to make straight the way of the Lord for the promised Messiah was not just coming, but was actually already living among them.

And not long after, in the
synagogue of his own village, Jesus, a young carpenter from Nazareth, announced to his audience that indeed Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled at that very moment.

The Lord is offering also to us his YEAR OF FAVOR which will bring “glad tidings to the lowly, healing to the broken-hearted, and liberty to captives.” As a result, he “will make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.”

On our part, heeding the invitation of St. Paul, we should “never cease praying and render constant thanks.” Likewise, we should not stifle the Spirit, while we should treasure the prophecies, retain what is good and avoid even the semblance of evil.

This is a simple recipe, which will enable us to make the most
of the opportunities the Lord will offer us in this Advent. The Lord is generous; he is at hand. Let us throw open the doors of our hearts to him in joyous welcome.

Euchalette, 14 December 2008

MCPO Box 1820, Makati City 1258, Philippines