Israel steps up air strikes in the Gaza Strip after Hamas again fired rockets into their settlements. US jets continued to strike IS targets in Iraq and Syria after the beheading of an American journalist which was broadcast in social media. Clashes in Ukraine leave many dead.
Police disperse riots in Jakarta protesting cheating in elections, in Ferguson, Missouri protesting the killing of a black youth by police, and in Liberia after a nighttime curfew was imposed to stem the spread of the Ebola virus.
Meanwhile, the hearings on the overpricing of a Makati building continue. Rites of remembrance for the 31st death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino (his murder remains unsolved to this day) were held.
The Liberal Party met to clarify if President Aquino is seeking a second term which is prohibited by the Constitution. Social activists are clogging the Internet with calls for another million march to protect the Constitution and screams for the prosecution of those involved in the PDAF and DAP scandals. There are 300,000 more jobless people. The Bangsamoro draft law was submitted to Malacañang with provisions that many think are against the Constitution. The SWS survey of the food-poverty rate (families who do not have enough money to buy the food they need) rose to 40% this year.
The news of late is enough to make a person feel paralyzed with helplessness and despair. Most prayers these days are of the tired, desperate sort: “How long, O Lord? Will you hide your face from us forever?”
In the Gospel today, Peter proclaims boldly: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What does it mean for a Filipino Christian to say that Jesus is Lord in the light of the screaming headlines in the contemporary world?
Christians believe that in Jesus of Nazareth, the Creative Designer of the universe revealed who He really is and what His plan for the universe is. This revelation of the cosmic plan is the Good News of salvation, a force for liberation from slavery to sin that is manifested in individual sinful acts and in unjust social structures that dehumanize scavengers in garbage dumps, child prostitutes in tourist belts and poor and oppressed peasants and fishermen who can only weep in silence and bleed in pain.
The consequence of belief in Christ as Lord
Faith in Jesus as Lord is the moral ground Christians stand they listen to their consciences and respond to the call for action to combat poverty and corruption, preserve the biosphere, as they face the moral challenge of doing something to solve social problems, as they honor their vocation to anticipate the integrity of creation, justice and peace of the Kingdom. It is never enough that a Christian only join processions and participate in devotional practices.
Faith in Jesus the Christ grounds the Christian conviction about what it means to act rightly in a dysfunctional society so that this can lead to moral transcendence and effective interventions. It provides the value structures to transform consciousness and behavior in the face of existential threats to the survival of the human race. This transformation of consciousness requires tremendous creativity, emotional intelligence and spiritual strength if Christians are to build the Philippines we want.
Following Jesus as the Word-made-human in the Way of the Cross is the personal articulation of what discipleship means in the context of the vastness and immensity of this convergent universe, its unimaginable diversity and creativity and the global emergencies that beset us. To both atheists and believers, Pope Francis said in his homily (May 22, 2013): “And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”
It is in faith in the Divine Word that we will discover the deepest truth about moral responsibility. We have to craft an evolutionary Christology that embraces and merges insights from the frontiers of scientific observation and the experience of indigenous peoples and mystics. We have to clearly define the implications of belief in the Cosmic Christ to motivate us in the struggle to raise the standard of living of the wretched of the earth while assuring coming generations of a sustainable future and the long-term survival of all life-forms.
The Way to a future of peace and justice
“There is now a single issue before us: survival. Not merely physical survival, but survival in a world of fulfillment, survival in a living world, where the violets bloom in the springtime, where the stars shine down in all their mystery, survival in a world of meaning,” wrote Thomas Berry.
In this dynamic and evolutionary cosmos, the way of the Divine Word is to offer meaning as opposed to nihilism, joy instead of boredom, and vibrant hope rather than the despair of death without ultimate fulfillment in a universe that will ultimately be overwhelmed by eternal darkness.
Belief in the Incarnation mandates that Christians should care for the common good and feel responsible for it. Pope Benedict declared that “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” That person is Christ, the Son of the living God.
Glorifying the Father and guided by the Holy Spirit, Christians witness to the Word in the world by proclaiming God’s love in conscious evolution towards greater wholeness and deeper consciousness as they struggle for justice, peace and preserve the integrity of creation.
Transforming the way we understand the world in the light of faith in Christ takes collective courage and a powerful foundation of collaboration, trust, and openness. It is a long and arduous task.
To work our way through the social problems we face requires many minds and a shared commitment. But it is the only way for the human race to survive. Pope Francis wrote in the encyclical Lumen Fidei: “Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. […] it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope” (§ 51).
In the new heavens and the new earth, all our tears will be wiped away. Following the Word because his life is our life, his mission our mission, Christians continue to be buoyed up by the hope that since the universe is convergent, we will not merely survive but prevail, and our laughter will not die in sorrow, as we embrace the Christ who is future – “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5)