3rd Sunday of Advent (A)
December 15, 2013
HERO OR HEEL? REED OR ROD?
I am no Justin Bieber fan. I don’t know what he stands for, but right now, he is a hero to many young people in Leyte, whom he paid a surprise visit to, in order to give his help to all typhoon survivors in Eastern Visayas.
There are simply some people who rise to the occasion and prove their worth when tested, when tried, when needed. Isaiah was one such. More than a prophet, he proved to be an enabler, who encouraged, who gave strength, and who empowered people with buckling knees: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those who are frightened: Be strong, fear not.”
Leaders, they say, do the right things. Managers, they further say, do things right. Either of them, or both, while doing the right things and doing things right, may experience fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the process. When either, or both, surrender to fear or uncertainty, and refuse to act, potential would-be heroes crumble down to being simply heels. Some fade away from the scene. Others take resort to blame or finger-pointing, and leadership is reduced to merely holding a title or keeping an office.
They are reduced to being “mere reeds swayed by the wind,” toothless, spineless incompetents who do nothing but bark orders and berate inferiors (or enemies, for that matter) for not doing the right things and not doing things right.
John the Baptist was no such reed. Neither was he a heel, who only paid lip service to the truth. He was a rod of strength, who talked and walked his talk, till someone schemed to snuff out his life in glorious martyrdom.
Our times call for heroes, not heels. In a society and culture saturated with the need to impress, motivated by a shallow show business inspired culture, we need more than just motivational bombastic speakers who tell us the right things, but who don’t do and live rightly. We need John the Baptists who, unlike reeds swaying in the wind and shake with fright before princes and potentates, take a courageous stand and “tell it like it is.”
We need prophets who are not pushover reeds who are experts at double talk and accommodation, but straight rods of truth and justice, come what may, happen what might.
We have had enough as a people of honorable men and women who used to be followers of an old regime, but who, as if on cue, changed parties just a little before the old regime went down in shame, and who are now like reeds swaying in the new wind of compromise and political accommodation, because the new powers-that-be can now keep the juices of political patronage flowing. They are nothing more than turncoats who stand, not for objective truth and justice, but for the convenient and the personally rewarding.
So, pray, tell me … what kind of prophet would you expect John the Baptist to be? What kind of Church and clergy would you like us to be for you? Mute reeds that dance along with the prevailing wind and the tune of the day? Wimpy prophets who would tell you only things you want to hear? Would you expect the Church to only talk to you about a God of love and never even do so much as refer to a God of justice and a God who makes righteous demands on His people?
What do you expect us to be for you? Hero or heel? Swaying reed or steady rod of righteousness and justice?
Let John the Baptist show us the way. He was not a mere dude and dandy dressed in fine clothing. Last week, he referred to some as a “brood of vipers.” He is more than a prophet. He told it like it is. He was more than a leader and a manager. He was a messenger who talked the talk, and who walked the talk.
Rejoice! Today is Gaudete Sunday. Glad tidings are upon us, in our lips and in our hearts!
Sacred Heart Novitiate
Lawa-an, Talisay City
December 11, 2013