It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
— Benjamin Franklin
MOST definitely, I am not what you may call a Sunday Christian who goes to church and prays to God on a weekend, only to go back to sinful ways during the preceding days after.
But I do believe in God and have faith in Him, though I seldom attend mass and pray to the Almighty regularly and consistently. Yet what I do know is that I offer prayers of thanks to Our Father more often than ask for material things and worldly desires.
This belief has actually brought me at loggerheads with my sister, who is older than me by five years and is now a ‘devoted’ Born Again Christian after turning her back on Catholicism decades ago. She is always reminded of the importance of attending church service to receive God’s blessings but she also knew that I disapprove of it because my belief is that prayers are without value if not done with good deeds.
So let me now go to the observation that for most Filipinos, Christianity is not really evident in their lives because while most believe in God and Jesus, their Christian spirit remains elusive.
Actually, Filipino Catholics boast of being from the only Christian nation in Asia. A 2020 report revealed that 92 percent of our population is Christian and about 89 percent are Catholics.
Despite these figures, though, the true Christian spirit taught to us by the Spanish has remained elusive among our country’s more than 100 million people?
The truth is that religious belief in the Philippines does not necessarily translate to public life and this is why it is truly mind-boggling how a Catholic country such as ours can commit nearly 30,000 extralegal, drug-related killings, based on data provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in 2020. And of this figure, only 23,000 were classified as ‘under investigation’ because there were formal complaints filed by victims’ families.
But in spite of these killings, Sundays and feast days find Catholic churches full of devotees and the faithful. In fact, there has been a clamor from both churchgoers and clergymen to reopen churches amidst the quarantine restrictions and lockdowns so more worshippers can be accommodated—and perhaps collections and contributions may somehow increase.
And have you heard about the joke that a killer of drug suspects goes to church to pray that he won’t miss his target for the day while in another section a known prostitute prays to get a moneyed customer to take home.
Likewise, we also find attending mass our country’s plunderers since the majority of them are the most generous donors to the church. Never mind how they got their millions, what is important is that they give serious donations for church projects.
Because of this hypocrisy, many Filipinos are becoming poorer and hungrier—all due to graft and corruption.
And look at our Christian faith, we seldom see it in politics and in society. The chasm between religion and public life has made the poor even more destitute. Faith does not lead to good works, just as religion has nothing to do with personal decisions.
Our socio-political situation actually speaks for itself as seen in widespread poverty, hunger and joblessness that has reached new levels not seen in 30 years of surveys, inducing that conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) which has adopted the term ‘catastrophic’ as a new description of the situation.
Still, I do understand why many of our countrymen choose to become ‘Sunday Christians’ rather than remain Christian for the rest of the week.
Catholicism in the Philippines has been described as “disruptive public religion” by Ateneo de Naga University president Father Roberto Rivera SJ.
Come October (the current year), candidates will once again file their certificates of candidacy for public office—and a Duterte-Duterte tandem is looming to occupy the top posts in government.
Noting such a possibility of seeing presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio running for president with her father Digong as vice president, we ask where is Christian faith in survey results that say most Filipino people are convinced by the present administration’s war on drugs?
In this we can only hope that Filipinos’ belief in Christ will translate to our country’s socio political sphere. Christianity is a radical faith that challenges a nation’s social ills like corruption, including a lack of respect for human life. It is a faith that sees every man and woman—no matter how poor—as brothers and sisters of the Lord and thus deserving of every respect and dignity.
I look back to my sister, who got mad and blocked me on Facebook when I told her that “prayers are nothing without good deeds.”
And until now, we have not contacted each other after she remarked that I shed crocodile tears at my mother’s wake. Talk about being Christian . . . eh? (AI/MTVN)