Make straight your crooked ways

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD

AMAN ap­proached his priest friend and bragged, “Fa­ther, I got rid of all my vices – drink­ing through will power; gam­bling, will power; smok­ing, will power.” The priest said, “How about wom­an­iz­ing?” “Power fail­ure,” the man said sheep­ishly.

“But I’m try­ing hard to over­come it.”

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).

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.

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 na­tions is at­trib­uted to their neg­a­tivis­tic traits and at­ti­tudes. In other words, where there are cor­rupt prac­tices, greed, and so­cial in­jus­tices, eco­nomic progress is ham­pered.

On the per­sonal level, self­ish­ness, in­sen­si­tiv­ity, in­fi­delity, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence are some causes of other’s un­told suf­fer­ings and mis­ery. A hus­band , for in­stance, who spends lav­ishly for his barkada and vices, but has no money for the fam­ily sus­te­nance is self­ish and in­sen­si­tive.

“The Happy Hypr­o­crite” is a story writ­ten by the late Max Beer­bohm, one of the most re­spected writ­ers of this cen­tury.

It is the story of a man named Lord Ge­orge Hall, a man with no scru­ples – a ter­ri­ble vil­lain who’s not only mean but looks mean.

Lord Ge­orge Hall falls in love with a beau­ti­ful and in­no­cent maiden named Lit­tle Miss Mere. She re­fuses his of­fer of mar­riage, say­ing, “I can never be the wife of a man whose face is not saintly.”

As a re­sult, Lord Ge­orge Hall en­gages the ser­vices of the finest mask-maker in the land who fash­ions for him the mask of a saint – per­fect in ev­ery de­tail. (To­day in­stead of a mask, the cover-up may be a cos­metic surgery). Again Lord Ge­orge Hall seeks the hand of the beau­ti­ful and in­no­cent Lit­tle Miss Mere. But this time, he is wear­ing the saint’s mask, and she accepts his of­fer of mar­riage.

Day-by-day, Ge­orge Hall does ev­ery­thing he can to keep up the hypocrisy. In short, he tries to act like a saint.

He is care­ful al­ways to por­tray him­self as a kindly, un­selfish, pa­tient, and at­ten­tive hus­band. But one day he en­coun­ters an old en­emy who tears off the mask in front of Ge­orge Hall’s wife.

But when the mask is torn away, a saint’s face is re­vealed. Ge­orge Hall had ac­tu­ally be­come the per­son he was try­ing to be hour-by-hour, day-by-day. Prac­tice had made the trans­for­ma­tion. That is the chal­lenge of the Ad­vent sea­son for all of us. Prac­tice be­com­ing the beau­ti­ful, lov­ing, car­ing per­son God made you to be. And you can be sure that, grad­u­ally, your “morally crooked ways” like pride, vices, dis­hon­esty, and self­ish­ness will be straight­ened. PRAC­TICE MAKES PER­FECT.

GIVE LOVE ON CHRIST­MAS. I am ap­peal­ing on be­half of some in­di­gent sick we are help­ing like Dante Ca­bansag, a re­nal fail­ure pa­tient, M. Maranga, J. Lopez, Rosanna Cayunda who have pul­monary ail­ments.

In this sea­son of Ad­vent and Christ­mas. Let’s reach out to our less for­tu­nate sick brethren.


Oth­ers who wish to help may e-mail me at: [email protected]

The chal­lenge of Ad­vent for all of us is to prac­tice be­com­ing the beau­ti­ful, lov­ing, car­ing per­son God made you to be.

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