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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for the Friday of the First Week of of Advent, Mt 9:27-31

Our Gospel today is about the literal healing of two blind men. But our first reading from Isaiah, which speaks not only about the healing of the blind but also of the deaf, gives me the feeling that the prophet meant it figuratively. He is prophesying an oracle about a coming time when the deaf will be healed of their deafness—but mainly to be able to “hear the words of a book.” He also speaks about blind being made to see again—but mainly to have a glimpse of hope in the midst of “gloom and darkness”.

The prophet is speaking about a coming time of fulfillment when the poor and the lowly will finally rejoice. Why? He lists down the reasons: one, because “the TYRANT will be no more and the arrogant will fade away”; and two, because “those who are alert to do evil will be cut off.” He is referring to those in power who use the law as a weapon against their perceived enemies, those whose mere instructions can get innocent people jailed, those who can get even the lawyers who defend them ambushed or eliminated.

As you can sense from the prophet’s words, none of what is happening in the present is new. The Book of Ecclesiastes has also said something to this effect. He said, “What has been will be, what has been done will be done, nothing is new under the sun.” There is one person whom these words of the prophet Isaiah remind me of. She is a lady senator who has languished in jail for the past four years already while the nonbailable criminal charges against her remain under trial and unresolved. She has not even been allowed to participate virtually in the hearings in the Senate, despite the fact that she is a duly-elected legislator of the country.

I can only hope and pray that our country’s judicial system can still function justly and fairly, that the judges handling her cases find the courage to bring them finally to a resolution, before all the convicted felons who have been made to testify against her would have died in the National Penitentiary. I hear that several of the earlier judges assigned to handle her cases have inhibited themselves, obviously for fear of displeasing higher authorities, and thereby causing a further delay on any judicial decision. Isn’t justice delayed justice denied?

There is a Japanese parable about the so-called “three wise monkeys.” We often see them portrayed on paperweights that are sold as souvenirs in airport shops. The first monkey is covering its eyes, the second its ears, and the third, its mouth. You will usually also find the inscription on the wooden base on which the monkeys are seated: “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.”

The saying is supposed to be a wise counsel about the need to avoid exposure to evil for those who wish to grow in wisdom. Are we not warned every now and then by the MTRCB about the material that people are about to watch, especially children? We get warnings like, “The following program is rated SPG (Strict Parental Guidance is advised.) It may contain themes, obscene language, violence, scenes of horror, sex or drugs that are not suitable for young audiences.”

I wonder if Congress has ever thought of applying MTRCB ratings on the social media? Did they even think of rating e-Sabong, for instance, as SPG for children before deciding to give it a legal franchise? Who will save our kids now from engaging in such addictive things that they are constantly exposed to online? Is it really good enough to just tell people that if they want to protect their children, all they need to do is close their eyes, ears and mouths to evil?

Perhaps if we were monkeys, that is obviously all that we can do before evil. But we are not monkeys, are we? If we are truly the intelligent creatures that we claim to be, then we should know that we cannot just turn a blind eye, or a deaf ear, or a silent mouth towards evil.

I remember when I was still a young seminarian, I learned a Cebuano song entitled BUTA, meaning BLIND. The song says,

“Pagkadaghan sa nahigmata nga nangandoy pang matulog
Kay mas tam-is ang magdamgo sa mga dili tinuod.”

“Ang saksi sa kamatuoran mupiyong lang kasagaran ug mag-antos lang nga pasipad-an ang luha ug kaangayan.”

“Buta kita sa pagpakabana buta kita sa luha, ug wa’y pulos ang hayag sa atong mga mata kon sa kasing-kasing magpabilin tang buta.”

Let me come up with a rough English translation:

“How many people with wide open eyes, are actually asleep? They’d rather remain asleep because it is more pleasant to dream of things that are untrue.”

“Many of those who witness the truth would rather close their eyes; they do not care that the dignity and rights of their fellow human beings are trampled upon.”

“We turn a blind eye to sufferings, we turn a blind eye to others’ tears. Of what use is the light in our eyes if within our hearts we remain blind?”

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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