Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reconciliatory Solutions

The countless victims of the many wars and conflicts, the desperate hostage-taking, the homicides of our world, the distressed evacuations and sufferings of people and children, and the very fact that no amount, however great, could ever pay for the lives lost or murdered. And that is basic in God’s law, the fifth commandment—“Thou shall not kill” (Ex. 20:13), expressed in the Old Testament.

But Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son, upon whom God the Father showed His approval during the transfiguration with the words: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (cf. Mt. 17:5), tells us a deeper approach for obtaining peace, an approach of forgiveness, understanding and reconciliation. God’s word defines love as: “humble, patient and forgiving: (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-13).

You may get a cue from that proverbial saying: lose a battle but win the war. We win the war when we obtain peace, save lives and progress further in the deeper relationships of love and understanding. Like in the game of chess, you can sacrifice a pawn to obtain over-all victory. Yes, humble your pride, reconcile, and obtain peace and love.

So we must listen to God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the very hope and expectation of all the ages and nations, that even the years are counted from His birth, year one, A.D. (Anno Domini), the year of the Lord. “I tell you, then, that if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past: ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial.’ But I tell you: whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council; whoever humiliates a brother or sister deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Don’t forget this: be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay until you have paid the last penny” (Mt. 5:20-26).

People have somehow to realign concepts of justice and right conduct by the light of God’s Son, Jesus, the light of the world (cf. Jn. 8:12), the Prince of peace.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hasty Answers, Hasty Blunders

If only we realized how important it is to be on the side of truth we would not be so hasty in our statements or answers. We ought to be conscious of what the truth really is or means. First it is identical with a complete reality being spoken of or described. So in courts of justice where they require from you the truth, they will ask: Do you promise to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion? So it is said a lie is a half-truth, that is, part only of the truth. So let’s beware of voicing out inaccurate statements, just because of hurry or we want to appear like a hypocritical know-it-all person. What will you get from such appearances when they are only other forms of deception. It’s essential to follow the way of truth because the very opposite is being part of the devil’s tactics, how he has attempted to deceive humanity from the very beginning, and bring as many as possible to the underworld of eternal hell. St. Teresa of Avila , a Carmelite and great teacher in the Church showed how much she favored truthfulness in our talks or statements. Her quoted maxim is quite proverbial. She said: “Never affirm anything unless you are sure it is true.” That will be important advice for media people who are heard by the many who tune in to their radio or TV sets.

Why did Jesus undergo such torments of the Cross for love of us? Because if one were to be condemned to the fires of hell, they are an eternity of pain. I realize why St. Faustina who was privileged with a vision of hell (see paragraph 741 of her diary), ended with a prayer: “Consequently, I pray even more fervently for sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O my Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend You by the least sin.” This shows why the Church places great value on humble suffering, as Jesus saved us by His sufferings on the Cross. The Cross has become the sign of our redemption (cf. Col. 1:24 and the encyclical of Pope John Paul II – Salvifici Doloris).

In Jn. 8:44, Jesus describes the devil as a murderer and the father of lies.

The last book of the Bible talks about the kind of people who will be welcomed into the gates of heaven. “The pagan nations will live by its light and the kings of the earth will bring it their treasures. The gates of it will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there and the nations will come bringing their treasures and their wealth. Nothing unclean may come into it: no one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:24-27). Doing what is loathsome or false points to a life that is not in accord with God’s rulings of purity, righteousness and truth because God is truth and justice par excellence. Yet in his infinite mercy He invites and calls us back to His fold in a life of change and conversion towards our eternal destiny in heaven. The lives of saints testify how their many trials contributed towards their ascent to the heights of sanctity. “We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hagedorn’s Exemplar

(Care for the environment)

We keep on looking for models of how life and environment has to be amid the complexities of modern life. But right there in the island province of Palawan , Mayor Edward Solon Hagedorn of the capital city, Puerto Princesa, which is booming in progress, is giving us the tip for success. You know, examples speak louder than words. Well, he has explained his secret. He was once a miner and logger. But he made a turnabout in his life. He realized how important it is to respect creation and the environment. And it’s of course important that he has the political will because “where there’s a will, there’s a way” (a popular proverb). The internet encyclopedia Wikipedia writes this of Hagedorn: “Hagedorn is best recognized as one of the more successful progressive local leaders of the Philippines with his passion and dedication towards the protection of the environment. Hagedorn’s leadership is directed towards establishing a harmony between the environment and development. The mayor has established the City of Puerto Princesa as a model of eco-tourism for the country.”

So we don’t need to talk so much. Just see for yourself how in that capital city, Puerto Princesa, of the island of Palawan , creation and environment are being cared for in a laudable way. It can be done, of course, but with certain commendable qualities of the person, knowledge based on experience and the sincere will to do what has to be done. Jesus tells us too: “Everything is possible for anyone who has faith” (Mk. 9:24). Also an important aspect of this phenomenon is that the common good of man and environment is being attended to more than the material gain which naturally follows this correct mode of action.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Judas Iscariot’s Lesson

When we look back in history we must take a lesson from some happenings in lives of personalities. They could serve an example for us positive or negative; positive if we are to follow, negative if we are to avoid the mistakes. In the case of Judas Iscariot, let’s learn this lesson—never to be motivated by material gain in our life’s mission or work. Why? Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and afterwards he hanged himself.

The same therefore with projects that are intended mainly to make money, they tend to self-destruction. This is in accord with Jesus’ rule of life: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all other things will be given you as well” (Mt. 6:33). A wise business analyst, Robert Townsend, writer of the bestseller Up the Organization (1970) summed it up this way, when applied to business affairs: “Money, like prestige, if sought directly, is almost never gained. It must come as a byproduct of some worthwhile objective or result which is sought and achieved for its own sake.”

So in all our interests or enterprises let’s not make money our main aim: We will then be heading towards self-destruction or suicide. Remember the lesson of Judas Iscariot. Judas had commented this of him: “Alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!” (Mt. 26:24). There are many corrupt projects in our world that only exploit people and the earth’s resources for the sake of money. They do not see where their direction is heading to, their own nemesis. Let’s not forget the perennial instruction of Jesus: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money” (Lk. 16:13).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Pro-Life Victories

The Pro-life stance of the Catholic Church is based on protecting man’s first right, which is life. The Virgin Mary is one figure that stands for life, as she is seen bearing the child Jesus in her arms. She stands for purity and fidelity to God’s word, as can be heard in her answer to the Archangel Gabriel, at the Annunciation. “Let it be unto me according your word”. (Lk. 1:38)

All the excuses for development, poverty alleviation, overpopulation are not above man’s first right-the right to life. The anti-life groups may pose such excuses as ignorance, overpopulation, poverty, etc. But none of these gives you the right to violate life, or prevent its normal course towards birth or conception by artificial contraceptives and abortion. If you really care for people, then live and let live, not just prevent other’s lives, for the sake of your comfort. The Virgin Mary showed such sublime example when she lovingly cared for the Baby Jesus from conception till death on the cross. And now she is the Queen of heaven, Queen of all saints and Queen of all the living. To go against her policy by mistreating or undermining human life is only exposing oneself to God’s anger or vengeance. We cannot break God’s commandments and still go unpunished. Jesus told us the substance of the law and the Prophets: “Do unto others what you want others do unto you.” (Mt. 7:12)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Basic Error

The use of money is something natural and common anywhere. What’s wrong is when one becomes enslaved to money. It then becomes a source of corruption. Then what we do will not really benefit humanity but only use them to make money. So the temptation is there always, making use of different services or activities for the sake of the money. There is where we need to have a reversal of values so as to avoid being enslaved to money and then become tainted with corruption in whatever task we become involved. The reversal of values means that from the depths of our hearts we have to focus on a noble goal, such as service to God or the true good, the common good of man. Otherwise, when we become infiltrated by wrong ideas, as that of being enslaved to money, then that’s where the trouble begins. We are going in the direction of failure or self-destruction. Just as Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and hanged himself. Our world must learn the lesson of truly seeking the common good of man, according to God’s will instead of committing the basic error of being deluded by the specter of money. Listen to God’s word that can’t deceive nor be deceived: “People who long to be rich are a prey to temptation; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge them into ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evils and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds” (1 Tim. 6:10). Let’s consider the cases of corruption like people peddling pornography and spoiling the youth, people destroying the environment and causing devastations, people selling contraceptives and obstructing new life, all these for the sake of the money, not because they care for man. As you can see, all that tends to self-destruction, like Judas Iscariot who hanged himself.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Moratorium

(logging and mining)

Groups from the Catholic clergy and people of Davao Oriental have been requesting a moratorium of the large scale mining and logging operations taking place in the same province. We believe this is for the good of the people. Considering the worldwide dangers of global warming and environmental calamities (e.g. floods) in many areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao , it’s about time. The honorable mayor R. Hagedorn of the capital city of Palawan, namely Puerto Princesa, has clearly shown in word and example, how Palawan has progressively boomed through preservation of its natural resources of wood trees and mining minerals, thus preserving the economy by tourism and the usual and normal livelihood of the native or local inhabitants. He made a reversal in policy or conversion of heart from being a logger and miner previously. He even assured our priests of Davao Oriental that he is willing to talk about his success story in Palawan to our people here in Davao Oriental. You see for yourself and go to Palawan to see how truth speaks for itself.

As the world has always shown, the temptation and corruption comes because of the money in the various sorts of commerce happening around. People get lured because of the money offers. But transactions done because of the money lead to self-destruction, as Judas Iscariot hanged himself, after betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and the many calamities causing loss of countless lives that came as a result of irresponsible logging or mining transactions. What’s our guiding word from the Bible or even genuine business people of our times. We have to approach the whole matter the way God wants us to do, putting first things first, scil. the will of God first or the true good of man, before the monetary considerations. “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt. 6:33). “The love of money is the root of all evils and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds” (1 Tim. 6:10). Remember Judas betrayed Jesus for the money, then hanged himself. The great business analyst Robert Townsend, author of Up the Organization, writing about 40 years ago (1970), had cautioned us: “Money, like prestige, if sought directly, is almost never gained. It must come as a byproduct of a worthwhile objective or result which is sought and achieved for its own sake.” Of the irresponsible people, logging and mining for the money, devastating the environment, we can only pray as Jesus did at the cross: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

War or Reconciliation?

In the Bible the gospel is called the gospel of peace. Peace is everyone’s yearning here in Mindanao . For how can we have progress without peace? There is a truth in a sentence by Benjamin Franklin who said: “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” Why? Could you pay enough for the value of one life? Why did Jesus say: “If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering” (Mt. 5:23). The gospel is called the gospel of peace because it leads to peace if truly and heartily put into practice. Just that simple gospel maxim may help us avert so many conflicts and wars – “Judge not and you shall not be judged….The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you. Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you miss the plank in your own? You hypocrite! Remove the plank from your own eye first, then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mt. 7:1-5). This gospel truth, a simple truth but a basic truth (cf. Mt. 5:19).

Hence this is how St. Paul describes the spiritual warfare. “Finally grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put God’s armor on so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. That is why you must rely on God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground…. So stand your ground, with truth buckled round your waist, and integrity for a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagermess to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to put out the burning arrows of the evil one. And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword. Pray all the time asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all the saints; and pray for me to be given an opportunity to open my mouth and speak without fear and give out the mystery of which I am an ambassador in chains; pray that in proclaiming it I may speak as boldly as I ought to.” (Eph. 6:10-20). In our great longings for peace in our country and the world of today, we must ask our heavenly Queen, Mary, to aid us in the work for peace because she is our mother and truly the Mediatrix of all grace. She was the instrument of the birth of God’s beloved Son into our world, Jesus Christ, the very source of grace, peace and reconciliation.