A young boy recently told me about his classmate calling Christ “savage” because Christ got angry and went wild. (I suppose this was a reference to the Cleansing in the Temple story.)
I explained to the boy the concept of fighting for what is right, the moral sense of righteous indignation when people do something wrong and unjust.
He then asked that if Christ was fighting for what is right, why was he put to death. Did he lose in the end? I replied, “No, he showed us the way to eternal life. They crucified him but this was his victory. Because of this, we have the promise of the Resurrection.”
“If we do good and right, we will have the Resurrection, but we will know this only when we die and get to heaven?” the young boy said and asked at the same time. I wanted to say more, but ended with this: “Yes, Christ showed us the way to live that will lead us to the Resurrection.”
I realized I needed to point out to the young boy that Christ’s fidelity to his mission, what God wanted him to do, is the main point of his story, of our being Christians.
This Sunday’s Gospel gives us a powerful and timely reminder that we must not compromise our fidelity to our mission and the values on which we have rooted and grounded our life.
It is a clarion call for all Christians, lay people, seminarians, priests, religious and bishops. We must overcome the temptation to lower the standards of our fidelity to what God wants us to do.
Last Sunday, after my reflection was printed and circulated through social media, one of my close and dear friends, whose support and friendship I value, critiqued my reflection. He said I was being ambiguous: “Why not say the problem is EJK (extrajudicial killing)?”
Also last weekend, someone shared a story of people being afraid to extend help to Kian de los Santos’ family. They sympathized with them but were afraid of reprisals if they were identified as supporters of the family.
After these two incidents, I changed the homily in my Masses last Sunday. I explicitly stated that as Christians who will need to answer Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?”, we cannot ignore the issue of EJK.
Raising the ‘fight’
The subject is no longer just a peace and order issue or a drug issue or a political issue, but a moral issue that confronts us with a moral imperative. We must take a stand.
I want to raise the “fight” to the level of values and principles and fight for what is right. The Filipino word is “manindigan,” to take a stand based on values and principles.
Two images come to mind. One is the image of the late, revered hero, Sen. Lorenzo Tañada Sr. during a protest rally near the Welcome Rotunda on Quezon Avenue. He stood his ground, kapit-bisig with the other protesters, even as they were being dispersed by the police and military with water cannons.
The old man Tañada, who was over 80 then, stood his ground.
Second, is the image of Mahatma Gandhi who, despite the protestors being attacked by the police, stood his ground. He himself was hit by a truncheon but he stood his ground.
These are images of how tyranny will crumble if there are men and women who will stand their ground. The Marcos dictatorship ended a few years after the Tañada incident. India won its independence through Gandhi’s peaceful, nonviolent movement.
Stand your ground
It is time to take a stand again—manindigan. EJK is wrong. It mocks the rule of law and due process that have been principles and values as old as communities we know of, even the so-called primitive and tribal communities.
Some will say Edsa 1986 did nothing to change things and this is why the peaceful, nonviolent movement was a failure. I will stand my ground that Edsa achieved its purpose to topple a corrupt and brutal dictatorship.
The failure came after Edsa. That was when we squandered our hard-won freedom and democracy.
Yes, we must denounce what is wrong and unjust. But we must go beyond denouncing, otherwise we will commit the same mistake of the post-Edsa period. A peaceful, nonviolent movement is still the way to go, just as the way of the Cross and the Resurrection remain as the core of our Christian vocation and mission.
The Cross and Resurrection is a package deal—one without the other doesn’t make sense or simply cannot be. It is buy one, take eternity.
Yes, young boy, “We will only know this when we die and get to heaven.” But this is why Christ came. He is the promise and the guarantee that this is the way to go. Manindigan. —CONTRIBUTED