December 12, 2021


Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
Luke 3: 7-18

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent December 12, 2021

By: The Rev. Victoria S. Esguerra
Retired Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

(Reprinted, with permission, from “O, Come Emmanuel: Advent and Christmas Prayers and Reflections,” booklet published by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and issued at the National Clergy Convocation in Davao City, November 19, 2018.)


Zephaniah, of royal lineage and a contemporary of Jeremiah, prophesied to Judah (640-609 BC) that on the “Day of the Lord” those guilty of idolatry (followers of Baalism) would be punished but God would save the faithful few (remnants).  The “foul and filthy” city of Jerusalem would be purged of human pride and purified.  Zephaniah prayed a song of joy for Israel and daughter Jerusalem.  “God will remove the judgments… He will renew you in His love and will rejoice over you…. The Lord will save the lame and gather the outcasts … He will restore your fortunes.


A great Old Testament prophet and one of the four major prophets, Isaiah lived in the 8th century BC in Jerusalem and was a prophet for over 40 years. His wife was also known as a “prophetess,” and they had at least two sons.  He saw a vision of God sitting on a throne in the Temple (Isaiah Chapter 6). Having seen the “Holy One of Israel” and the sins of humanity around him, Isaiah preached about God’s goodness; warned about the punishment and judgment on the evil world; proclaimed the coming of the Righteous King; comforted his suffering people through the knowledge of God’s love; and assured them of His forgiveness to those who remained faithful to the Lord.  Isaiah offered a prayer (song) of praise and thanksgiving to God for the return of the remnants of Israel and Judah, and to learn that the Righteous King would soon be coming from the root of Jesse.  Isaiah’s prophecies depicted God as a very loving Father and nurturer of His faithful.  


Paul advised the Church in Philippi not to worry about earthly, material things, as their citizenship was in heaven.  “He will transform our body of humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory…” “… by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul prayed for and with the Philippians for their needs and assured them of God’s peace accompanying His provisions. 


John the Baptist prophesied about the baptism of fire by the One coming more superior to him.  He warned the people to turn from their evil deeds, to repent and be baptized, and to be transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  His teachings included: (1) Repent and be baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit; (2) Bear good fruits – reform, transform, and conform so that one’s seeds (actions) will bring forth new seeds of Christian behavior that will multiply (“Unfruitful tree shall be cut down and burned.”); (3) Build treasures in heaven and not on earth; and (4) Proclaim the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus.

At this time of recollection, we reflect on what factors influence over lives that we may or may not be consciously aware affect our activities this Season of Advent and Christmas.

  • POPULARITY MATTERS?  -- How many “likes” did we receive in the social media for what we posted on our fb page?  Were they truthful, or as a result, did we get more friends? Or enemies?  [During this time of elections, do we vote for candidates who are popular or winnable, without considerations of their track records, empty promises, or character background?]
  • POWER MATTERS? – Over this past year, did we get closer to people of influence in spite of or despite their character background?  How many “selfies” or “groupies” do we have with famous or powerful personalities in our midst?  Or are we more elated by the greater number of people joining our circle of friends?  Or do we really care if we have lots or no friends of all?  [How many names matter because they belong to the political family dynasties and have powerful influences in government, business, or celebrities/ entertainment?]  
  • PESO MATTERS? – How much money do we intend to spend for giving and entertainment, or how much money do we expect to receive in return for favors we did this [Holiday] Season? [Or how much will the politicians spend to win over the voters to their side? Or how much will the voters sell their rights of suffrage?]
  • PIETY MATTERS? – How many times do we plan to attend the worship services in church?  Or if we do attend, how alert and conscious are we to listen to the Messages? Are we more in tune to the ringing tone of our cell phones or to God’s inner voice?  Or are we only physically but not spiritually present?  In our piety, do we also pray for others or just for ourselves?
  • MONEY MATTERS? – If we ask people if their Christmas will be a happy or sad one, the common response is that Money is the great factor because of the rising inflation [and the economic effects of this pandemic]?  The following insight on the importance of this commodity in our celebration of the birthday of the Prince of Peace and our preparation for His Second Coming is shared here:
    Money buys goodies and foodies, but it cannot fully fill the emptiness.
    Money buys cosmetics, but it cannot buy inner beauty (or “gandang kalooban”).
    Money buys medicine, but it cannot buy sustained good health.
    Money buys grades, but it cannot buy self-worth.
    Money creates jobs, but it cannot promote a person’s dignity.
    Money buys position, but it cannot bring respect.
    Money buys loyalty, but it cannot give integrity.
    Money can betray people (Judas), but it cannot enrich one’s soul.
    Money can gain the whole world, but it cannot redeem oneself [salvation].
    [Money can buy votes during elections, but it cannot assure the nation’s good welfare.]

The Prince of Peace was born homeless, lived pennyless, and died graveless; but He was truly not loveless, powerless, nor gloryless!

  • REJOICE, LOVE MATTERS MOST! – Jesus’ Admonishment:

    Awaken from your deep sleep!  From the start, from the dawn of My revelation to you, I asked everyone to return to Me, and live a holy life loving Me and one another … Without the bud of love in your hearts, you are a living corpse.” … “YOU WILL BE JUDGED ON THE BASIS OF LOVE!”  … “MY LOVE, REJOICE, I AM COMING SOON! (True Life in God, November 30, 2015, www.tlig.org.)



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