Me and My Neighbor

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“…Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mt. 22:39)”

My thoughts on life preoccupied me these days, and I found myself challenged. I am challenged by the fact that many news sources are mentioning that there is violence against life. These forms of violence emerge in different ways, and I admit that I found these “wrapped in beautiful boxes”. Violence now turns to deceit – making people believe that such proposals are for the purpose of development. Well, look again!

It takes a third round of eye, a critical and keen eye, to discover the truth behind proposals presented before us. It takes a lot of courage to seek what is true, uncover it, and fight the deceitful. The battle for life is not new, but is evolving in new forms, which, if we are not careful, might do real harm for us.

I have known some of my friends telling me of their regret for doing “harm” to others because they thought that these proposals are worth-believing at an instant. Now, how many more of your friends would tell you of their regret, and us sitting down doing nothing about what happens today? I know this blog post would be so small a voice, that it takes concrete witnessing to fight and defend life, especially the innocent ones.

Now, we cannot let the inordinate and selfish so-called “dreams” of those who think that “life is under man’s manipulation” to make the final say. The younger generations are directly affected by what was quoted because they are the direct recipients of the so-called proposals offered by those who control life. I say that we let the youth dream according to what is authentically life-giving.

True development starts from developing the basic unit of community – and that is the human family. What good are high-rise buildings and esteemed organizations if they do violence against human life? We all have the power deep within to resist the wrong notion of “progress” and “development” that treats human life as mere commodity. My proposal is to start on interdisciplinary researches in different fields: science, technology, philosophy, psychology, medicine, theology – and let these fields dialogue together, plus a firm plan of action. Doing research on human life may become a noble act to stand for life because such stand comes with affirming the truth about human life.

This time, we take our stand: we stand for “authentic human development”.

We stand for life!

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Life and Progress

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Yesterday, we commemorated the Holy Innocents who were martyred on the account of the Child Jesus. Yet that celebration calls us to a fundamental response which we, as children of the First Christmas and of the Easter Morn, have to revisit in ourselves.

Months ago, I recalled posting about “Intrigues of Progress: On Ethics in Advertising”. The point I made there was on how we perceive “progress” in terms of “development” in so many aspects. What is interesting is that the problems concerning our society nowadays seemed to have been rooted on how we perceive “progress”. It often leads us to ask the “why” of “progress”.

So? Personally, I observe that on the pursuit of achieving “progress” in our society, one fundamental question (even personal) is attached: “What’s in it for me?” Our ability to ask this question expects us to clarify and evaluate “progress”. Admit it – not everyone has the same notion of “progress”. That’s because we came from different contexts – period (we have to respect that). But what makes us reflect together about “progress” is because of the “why” (not only in the utilitarian sense of it) – together with the question “what’s in it for me?”

And I propose that upon hearing “breakthroughs” in our society, our participation would be to ask questions – clarify and evaluate. We are no longer passive agents of whatever’s-happening-out-there because as individuals, we are more concerned on the search for meaning in our lives – explicitly or implicitly. Then, another important question surfaces: “How can I be facilitated in  my search for meaning in my life?” Interesting!

Practically speaking, there is a need for us to sit down, listen and discern well. We are neither puppets nor robots for use in production mechanism – we are human persons formed “fearfully and wonderfully” (Psalm 139:14) to love and to be loved. Perhaps, this is an important criterion we adopt when we approach “progress”. There is more to love that facilitates the search for meaning than being mere puppets or robots of what’s happening. 

Then, does our notion of progress make us more humane and loving? Interesting!

Children of Easter Morn: On Porta Fidei

Christ’s Resurrection is the triumph of our faith!

One significant to remember: Faith is because of the Risen Jesus. Hence, we are called “the children of the Easter morn”. Christ’s Resurrection recreated and renewed everything…and everyone! What took place on the third day brought life to all. His Resurrection was so powerful that all creation is renewed in meaning. Life no longer ends in death, as we are accustomed to, but in faith life brings forth life. The identity of creation no longer rests on mere generation and corruption, but unceasingly renewed in life through the Risen Christ! I think this is what the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei is spoken to us…Christ’s faithful.

The challenge now for us, as children of the Easter morn, is to remind the world of its original vocation to embrace and welcome the Kingdom of God, just as it was created in its original splendor and beauty. I recently talked to a Professor and mentor whom I acknowledged because of what she wrote in a journal regarding creation-centered spirituality. This was the point-of-departure I specified when I delivered a paper regarding religious education. I was actually touched by what she wrote because she reminded me in a nutshell what was essential and basic: that all creation belongs to the God and will return to God.

Oftentimes, we may have been too hostile to the world, much as we may have forgotten that the whole creation was redeemed and sanctified by the Lord too. Such hostility is marked by our neglect of the basic needs of our neighbor. We keep using our natural resources to the expense of our environment – and our neighbors, to the extent. We thought that progress is when we are able to spend and spend. We still have that mindset: to be is to have more. For this, many continue to suffer because of lukewarmness and ignorance of the plight of others. How I pray and wish that someday all of us will share in the same table-fellowship that the Lord Jesus invited us – that all will be filled and quenched!

As the Year of Faith draws near, we rejoice in individuals and communities unceasing in bringing Christ to all. We are  challenged to challenge the values we have, the mindset we have, and the ideologies we believe in. Bringing the triumphant Christ to all means true love made known and lived by all. Unless we stop grabbing and having what we can, true love cannot be known. Faith is not intended for multiplication of rubrics, but rubrics that transform us to become servants of God and neighbor. Faith is a gift to us so that God’s gifts be available to all. This is distinct for the children of Easter morn: ability to challenge ideologies in the name of the Risen Jesus.

The Year of Faith draws near… have we prepared ourselves enough?

Let us Enter: On Porta Fidei

Let’s face it. Technology rapidly develops in a short span of time. It is also coupled with a consciousness that as if technology can address man’s daily problems and challenges. Such consciousness may even challenge the necessity and authenticity of faith in man’s life. Nations keep developing and rising in various aspects because of the promises of technology. Indeed, technology promises to address various aspects in man’s life, but does it have the final say of everything? Is it really enough to say that technology solves man’s perennial problems? And, does it even have to determine everything – even in matters of faith?

In a recent Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio Data) entitled Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict XVI inculcated the need to harness that “sense of faith” even in the context of globalization. On my reflections, what he mentions about “sense of faith” is not a faith that is “extraneous” to man’s life, but wholly integrated in his everyday living because it speaks about his true identity. It is true that coupled with the rise of techno-cultured society is everyone’s search for identity. We got social networking sites capable of facilitating that desire to express who we are, what we do, what we want to do, what we desire, and what we think right now. Such sites are increasingly becoming compasses of the search for identity.

In this Apostolic Letter, Pope Benedict XVI calls the faithful to intensify that sense of faith even in our time. As a seminarian, it is important to live that sense of faith in every moment of the day. Of course, it is a challenge for me to live that life because there are lots of difficulties and influences made by globalization. One difficulty is the risk of confusing things according to our own standards. The evidence is found in our choices. Sometimes we choose things because we want to, and we think it is right. But to live in that “sense of faith”, we choose things because we have discerned about it, passionate about it, genuinely happy about it, as rooted in the love of Jesus.

Hence, living that “sense of faith” harnesses our Christ-like compass, that is, the compass to love. When faith is towards communion, not only membership, there is intimacy among the persons in the community. Membership is concerned about registry and obligations, but communion invites deep concern among persons. There is this sense of solidarity among them, solidarity that is moved to love. It is no surprise that when a person is upright and just, it is because of the community that brings that person to be upright and just. Being a seminarian, in my case, is not of a vacuum. I entered the seminary because of the influence of the community around me. They are my co-discerners. They had that compass to love because they knew well how important a priest is in a community.

Let us then enter this “door of faith”! May this “door of faith” lead us to discover who we really are, so that in our journey, we may find true happiness. We are, first of all, facilitators of technology because we want to be truly happy. We do not get eaten by technology, but rather as an aid for us to harness that compass of love because love is what makes us truly happy. Faith, as a way of life, is never antagonistic of technology insofar as technology serves the true good of humanity. Hence, the “door of faith” invites us to be present, making that compass of love possible for others to discover. What a wonderful world we have where each has that compass of love, united yet unique in its own way!

Let us enter that “door of faith”!