Tribute to Those Who Prepare our Way

15 December 2005: Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent
Luke 7, 24-30. A Tribute to John the Baptist

Today, Jesus pays tribute to his cousin, John the Baptist. He says of him: “Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ I tell you, among those born of women, none is greater than John.” As Christmas draws near, and much emphasis has been given to material things, we take time to pay tribute to all those who have prepared the way for us: the generations of people who have passed on traditions, standards, and values to many of us.

There is a story about a family who had a treasure. It had been handed down through several generations. It was a genuine antique vase. It was kept on the mantel in the living room as a special object of enjoyment. One day when the lady of the house came home, she was greeted by her daughter. The daughter said, “Mama, you know that vase you told us has been passed down from generation to generation?” Her mother acknowledged that she did, in fact, said the vase was an important family heirloom. And then the daughter said, “Mama, this generation just dropped it.”

Our generation has been dropping many things --- many of the values, standards, and attitudes about the common good. But many people have symbolized and staunchly held on to these values. These are our personal heroes. Like John the Baptist who stood his ground, and prepared the way of the Lord for us by promoting the values of repentance and reparation, we look into our lives and give our gratitude towards those who have passed on values we live by, attitudes that promote growth, and experiences that have taught us to live authentically.

Finally, Advent is the season to thank the Lord for His graces. Because we have been gifted, we ask ourselves whether we have done something in exchange for the gifts bestowed on us. A final story:

It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The priest of the church was looking over the belen when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures. He hurried outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant Jesus. So he walked up to the boy and said, “Well, where did you get your passenger, my fine friend?”

The little boy replied, “I got him from the church.”

“And why did you take him?”

The boy said, “Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would give me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it.”

Today, let us pay tribute to the John the Baptists in our lives: our parents, our teachers, those who have been our friends. They are the ones who continue to prepare the way for us, those who have contributed to our hope as Christians. After all, we Filipinos pass on utang na loob as an endearing value.

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