Balik-Tanaw | Make the winding roads straight

Malita Tagakaulo Mission, Diocese of Digos

Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6.
Bar 5:1-9
Phil 1:4-6, 8-11
Lk 3:1-6

We incessantly cross rivers, plod through mud, and climb mountains when we visit the Tagakolu communities here in the highlands of Malita. To read John the Baptist’s proclamation from Isaiah on the Second Sunday of Advent stirs in me different feelings.

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

Every valley shall be filled

and every mountain and hill shall be made low.

The winding roads shall be made straight,

and the rough ways made smooth,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

In a province where good infrastructure leads to the homes and farms of the wealthy and powerful while the Tagakolu become tenants on their own land, I cannot help but have conflicted feelings.

When shall the Lord come?

The coming of the Lord is an event that will change the world as we know it; it is not something that will solely take place in our hearts. It will not just be an individual personal experience but will be communitarian as well. The various parables of Jesus in the gospels about the kingdom help us imagine how it shall be. It is something like the world we live in and yet very different.

The Season of Advent is a time for Christians to prepare for the birth of our Lord Jesus. At the same time, it is a reminder that we should not live our lives as if there were no tomorrow. Advent reminds us that we are a people of hope. The way we live our life each day should reflect this hope. John the Baptist’s proclamation to prepare the way of the Lord and to make straight his paths is not news of coming doom but a reminder of hope: the Lord shall indeed come! To live a life of hope in the world we live in right now should be a striving to make straight paths, making low mountains and hills, and making the rough smooth.

The current situation in the Philippines has made even hope subversive. When people were going hungry during the pandemic and a woman thought of a way to help those who were going hungry and convince other people to share, she was branded a subversive. When another woman dared to report on the government’s war on drugs, she was bullied by the government. Another woman occupying the second highest office in the land had been sidelined by the government she served when she dared question problematic policies. These women showed Filipinos how hope looks

like in this godforsaken age of Duterte. They did not remain silent nor did they change sides when things seemed bleak.

This Second Sunday of Advent we are admonished to have a second look at how we understand what it means to repent. We are urged to look deeper at what it means to make straight the Lord’s paths, to fill the valleys, make low the mountains and hills, and to make smooth what is rough in a country where tyrants are buried as heroes, where the poor and indigenous peoples are treated like livestock, and where hope is red-tagged and considered seditious. The Christian understanding of repentance today is not merely sacramental, liturgical and sentimental. It is also that, but more

importantly, it is to hope and to strive to be a sign of the hope that the Lord shall indeed come! Let us look to Ana Patricia Non, Maria Ressa and Leni Robredo and learn how it is to be a person of hope, how to make the winding roads straight in order to prepare for the coming of the Lord. (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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