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Austerity And Compassion: Two Advent Disciplines

Background Music: Panalangin by Mark Anthony Cuevas
    Voiced by: Arlene Donarber

December 15, Friday of the 2nd Week in Advent
Daily Readings: Isaiah 48:17–19; Matthew 11:16–19

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”” V.19

The characters of the gospel today are Jesus and John. John’s life and his ministry of invitation to a change of hearts through repentance were characterized by "austerity,” as reflected in his attire and diet. “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey” (Mt. 3:4).  Whereas Jesus’ life and ministry were characterized by “compassion” through which he became friends with tax collectors and sinners, inviting them to a change of heart.

John’s austerity and Jesus’ compassion seem very different from each other. Although they seem contradictory, they are complementary because it was God’s call to conversion that manifested in both ways. Unfortunately, the unbelieving generation of Jesus' time misinterpreted both methods by calling John’s austerity as demonic possession and Jesus’ compassion for sinners as gluttony.

Today’s gospel presents ‘austerity’ as personal and ‘compassion’ as social disciplines of the Advent season and in our preparations for Christmas. John’s austerity presented amidst the Advent season is a gentle reminder of ‘Spiritual Christmas’ to interiorize the spirit of Christmas so that the features of commercial Christmas, namely gluttonous parties, frantic shopping, and merry-making, might not deviate us from the real spirit of Christmas.

Let the spirit of Jesus’ compassion help us to be charitable during the Christmas season by meditating on the Savior, who was born in a poor situation. Amen.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.