Viewing violations of God's commandments
How Do We View "With the Eyes of Faith" Clear Violations of God's Commandments? (A response to Cardinal Tagle's Statement on Rodrigo Duterte's calling God--OUR GOD--"stupid") As early as during the 2016 presidential campaign, I had found Luis Cardinal Tagle's statements on Rodrigo Duterte disappointingly wanting in the strong chastisement that, according to my Catholic Christian formation, his transgressions against God and His commandments have warranted. I say that with a mixture of sadness and hiyâ. The sadness comes from the pain of seeing the highest leader of the Philippine Catholic Church, in which I was born and raised, seemingly looking the other way, or lacking the courage to speak out against blatant violations of God's Laws. The hiyâ comes from knowing that I have had the temerity to question a Cardinal. To those who may not know, a priest is appointed Cardinal only if he is found to possess, by God's grace, two gifts: (1) exceptional intellect; and (2) outstanding spirituality, or perceivable holiness. Who, therefore, am I, a mere volunteer catechist, to presume to question someone with those two extraordinary gifts from God? Knowing my incomprehension of a good many areas of study and my lapses into one or more of the Seven Cardinal Sins (Pride, Lust, Avarice, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth), how dare I presume to know more and to have greater spiritual discernment than a Cardinal? But despite the highly hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, never have we Catholics been taught to behave as unthinking robots. So democratic is the way we are raised as Catholics that our behavior inside our churches makes the more discipline-loving among us wish we could be less free in our demeanor. Unlike certain denominations, we have yet to be exhorted to vote for any particular candidate. Let me express here, therefore, my admiration and affectionate, high regard for our priests, bishops, archbishops, and the chief Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis. I am aware of the presence in the Catholic Church in various parts of the world of priests who have succumbed to the three sources of sin: the vulnerability of the self, the allurements of the world, and the constant attempts of the Evil One and his minions to entice us to displease God and ruin our soul. But surely, these pitiable priests are the exceptions, not the rule. I have not digressed. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the incumbent president, has called the Catholic Church "the most hypocritical institution". As a Catholic Christian, I take exception to that. This Church taught me to from childhood to ask Mary, to "pray for us sinners". We Catholics know that the Bible says, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." How can an institution that has never denied that we are all sinners and that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" be accused of hypocrisy? I have heard many a priest say, "Ipagdasal din po ninyo kami (Pray for us, too.)" While there may be boastful Catholic priests somewhere, in my entire life I have not encountered anyone, priest or lay person, as arrogant as the one who called our God "stupid".
Second Commandment of God: Thou shalt not take the Name of your God in vain. Neither has any president of this country so categorically announced, on national television, "I will kill you!" and "I would be happy to kill three (?) million Filipinos!" No one, let alone the president of the land, has ever called the any Pope "son of a whore" ("Putangina mo, Pope, umuwi ka na" were his exact words). It is so tedious, not to mention mind-boggling and heart-wrenching, to recall and repeat all the paglapastangan sa mga Utos ng Diyos--and now sa Diyos mismo!--ni Rodrigo Roa Duterte. We are told that the number of indigent Filipino VICTIMS of the illegal drug trade who have been summarily killed in this incredibly coarse, lascivious, murderous creature's so-called war on drugs has reached more than 20,000. Thou shalt not kill. The corruption, the plunder going on in this Administration, is unprecedented. Were any such report "false" or exaggerated, how are to know, when no less than the Presidential Communications Office is itself an unrelenting purveyor of clearly FAKE news? How, when no credible investigation has ever been ordered by this president, who has freed convicted plunderers and ordered the jailing on clearly dubious testimonies and unproven charges, the senator who dared investigate his involvement in the killings ascribed to the notorious Davao Death Squad during his term as Davao City mayor? HOW, then, are we to view "with the eyes of faith" these horrific deeds of someone who has even displayed a clear lack of loyalty to our country, who has called our Constitution "nothing" and "just a piece of paper". How do we view with the eyes of faith someone who is showing that he LIED before the GOD that we believe in and whom Cardinal Tagle serves, when he took his oath of office, vowing to uphold the Constitution, whose Preamble states, "We, the Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence..."? Yet now he says, "Your God is not my God." Let me say to everyone reading this: Yes. Cardinal Tagle is right. Indeed we MUST be calm. Indeed it is the wise course of action to be patient. For we are dealing here, with an entity, a being, who is so enveloped by the fatal Pride that moved Lucifer to question God's commandment for him and all angels (for as you know, Lucifer began as an Angel) to "serve human beings"-- to serve us, the way Rodrigo Roa Duterte is duty-bound to serve us, not kill our poor fellow citizens, whether in his barbaric war on drugs or by causing more of our poor to die of hunger as a consequence of the highly inflationary TRAIN Law. Yes, Cardinal Tagle is right. All the evidence to which we have been witness since even during the campaign, points to the enormity of the evil that we face: this can be no less than the Anti-Christ. That being so, God in His Infinite Wisdom has been trying to tell us: This is My Battle. But No. We are free. We Catholics have always known, from the account of Creation in the Book of Genesis, that God gave us Freedom. Free will. This gift that Rodrigo Roa Duterte ridicules, in evident lack of comprehension, is what Eve, first, and then Adam, exercised when they CHOSE to disobey God. And THIS is the same free will that Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been exercising ALL his life. He has always been FREE to choose what is good, holy, true, just, pure, chaste, honorable, life-preserving and -nurturing. Yet it appears that to this day, he CHOOSES to say and do that which is disrespectful, arrogant, lascivious, false, pretentious, treacherous, vengeful, dishonorable, life-denying--in a word, that which defies God. And so how do we view our horrendous plight "with the eyes of faith"? Simply this: GOD is All-Powerful, All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Merciful, Infinitely Loving, AND All-Just. Do we believe all the above? Then let us be calm and patient. Cardinal Tagle has not asked us to stop posting and reacting and sharing on Facebook or Twitter. He did not say we should stop thinking, attending protest rallies. He did not say we should stop praying for People Power or whatever exquisite, awesome miraculous way Our God--who is neither stupid nor ineffectual--shall FREE us. In His Perfect Time.
We are but humble soldiers of Christ. HE is our Commander-in-Chief. Let us be ready for His Call.
To Him be all the honor and glory, now and forever! [Note: the icon above is the Battesimo di Cristo (Baptism of Christ), Olio su tavola, Scuola Fiorentina (primi decenni del XVI secolo), Provenienza: Chiesa di San Giovanni in Sugana. Oil on panel, Florentine School (early decades of the 16th century), Provenance: Church of San Giovanni in Sugana. Photo by Gene Alcantara, Tuscany]