The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Felmar C Fiel SVD — DYRF-Radio, University of San Carlos, Cebu City
Friday 2nd Week of Advent
Photo: A Pink Sister approaching the Tabernacle in St Joseph Convent, Quezon City
One of the traditional Filipino games before the advent of cellphones was the “bahay-bahayan” in Tagalog or “balay-balay” in Cebuano language or other Philippine dialect in the south. In English, this is translated as house simulation game where a group of kids imitates a family set- up: a father, a mother, or children, or sometimes even pets. As a child, I always chose the role of an enterprising neighbor who sells grocery stuff.
In our Gospel today, Jesus used the image of a children’s game to compare the generation of Israelites during his time. He described them as children who complained to their playmates who would not dance to the tune of a “wedding”’ game nor mourn to the tune of a “funeral” game. This is in reference to the religious leaders who were jealous of John the Baptist and Jesus who earned an enormous following in contrast to them who had little influence among their own people. That is why they closely monitored Jesus, not to have their hearts changed, but to find fault in whatever he said or did.
I propose two questions for our reflection today: First, what are the aspects of my life that still refuse to listen to God’s Word? Is it my pride, my anger, my lustful thoughts and actions, my vanities? Do I have personal or secret sins that I always try to justify or rationalize? Jesus reminds us that “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). So, which part of our lives is still founded on the sand and not on the rock?
Second, are my decisions based on the desire to please God or win the approval of peoples? There is a natural tendency for us just to keep quiet or set aside our principles to maintain the natural order. Pope Francis laments in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti (par. 113) that “we have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith, and honesty.” He calls on everyone to “return to promoting the good, for ourselves and for the whole human family, and thus advance together towards an authentic and integral growth.” In this way, we are assured that godly traits are passed on and not only popular or individual interests.
In closing, we have to remember that God’s design for us is to seek the presence of Jesus day in, day out. Saint Arnold beautifully prays: “May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people.” We listen to Jesus to constantly rest our hopes on him, lean on him for strength and submit our whole being to his lordship.