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Wagging God

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“SINASADYA KO ‘yan eh. You know why? This country is in doldrums. I am shaking the tree para mabuhay lahat, para makita ko. I am shaking the tree pati mga salita ko bastos and I am trying to go to the boundaries of hanggang saan.”

An admission straight from the foul mouth of your President. Of some sly method to the outrageous madness of his calling God “stupid” over the creation story in the Bible, onto idiotizing the people in the Last Supper.

And then some iteration: “Your God is not my God kasi ang God mo stupid.”

A case of the tail wagging the dog – public attention purposely being diverted from the critical concerns of the day to trivialities – descending to blasphemous depths with Duterte wagging God Himself.

Aye, no mere violation of the commandment not to take the name of the Lord in vain there, but gross violence heaped upon God. Okay, maybe not his and his minions’ god, but everybody else’s God.

Shocked, the nation fell for Duterte’s scheme with the collective and individual damnation of his deviltry getting the monopoly of public discourse. All other issues dumped on the back burner.

After days of silence – amid calls for him to make a stand “for God and His Church” – Luis Cardinal Tagle on Wednesday issued a letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila that carried, among others, precisely what we are talking about here in his caveat: “While these questions are extremely important for the dialogue between faith and current concerns, let us not be distracted from addressing other pressing concerns with the fervor of faith and love…”

Concerns, he exampled as “the increasing prices of goods, job security, exploitation of women and children, violence in homes and neighborhoods, different types of addictions, crimes, vulnerabilities of OFWs, the daily paralyzing traffic in big cities, flooding, reconstruction of destroyed cities, combating terrorism, corruption, and others.”

Those “others” we can easily supply as the slumping peso, Philippine stocks plummeting to bear territory, the sharp fall in foreign investment pledges, the unceasing territorial penetration by the Chinese – their military planes now landing in Davao City – the debt trap poised on the nation by the Build, Build, Build program, the pandemic idiocy in the bureaucracy…

While mindful of Duterte’s blasphemies against our God, let us not lose our focus on the evils right in our midst.

Indeed, the Cardinal: “Be at peace. Be calm. Don’t let things disturb your inner peace. Let us read the situation with the eyes of faith.”

Not with the eyes though – the all-too-weak Christian that I am – but with the prism of faith that I read the situation at hand and respond, correspondingly.

I am a Catholic and proud of it. My God is not stupid. So many have started wearing faith on their sleeves, be it in the web or on their shirts. Why, even my seminary brethren during our lunch-fellowship Wednesday at the Immaculate Conception parish church of my classmate, the Rev. Fr. Larry Sarmiento in Guagua town strongly considered coming out with I am a Catholic shirts of our own.

A Church militant made the call of the day. But I begged to diff er.

The Church persecuted is the Church triumphant. So, I declared during our short sharing.

So, what else is new with all these slanders against the Church, these blasphemies against God? So, how many tyrants long, long before Duterte have ambitioned to destroy the Church?

All of them have fallen. The Church stands. And as promised: “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Rife in persecution is the history of the Church, as it is now. And lest we forget, our faith is nourished by the blood of martyrs – our own Fathers Tito Paez, Mark Ventura, and Richmond Nito offered to the altar of supreme sacrifice only in recent months.

So, it is written: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Redemptive suffering, one more way to Christian perfection. That which St. Augustine qualifies thus: “the profitable thing is not suffering those evils, but bearing them with equanimity and cheerfulness for the sake of Christ.”

No, I did not take offense on Duterte’s ululation of that stupid god. On the contrary, I took pity on him – on Duterte. Prayed, and still pray, for him.

Cardinal Tagle wrote, “God is the Savior. We do not need to save God. It is God who will save us.”

Indeed, if there is anyone that needs saving, it is Duterte. To be saved from himself.

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