In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
— Acts 20:35
FOR some politicians, typhoons and other natural disasters could be a boon to their political career as it gives them a chance to showcase what they believe is genuine care for the people they serve.
Take the case of People’s Champ, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao, who reportedly was disgusted with some of his critics who claimed that he was merely taking advantage of the crisis and using his vast amount of money to promote his presidential bid in the forthcoming national and local elections scheduled on May 9 next year.
If the Pac-Man’s detractors are saying that the eight-division world champion is sordidly flaunting his wealth to entice the electorate to support him through the splurging of relief packages and money to victims of super typhoon Odette (international name Rai), then what about his rivals who advertise their faces and names in government projects said to benefit the populace even though the funds used to construct them were actually appropriated from the so-called people’s coffers or public funds?
It appears then that when elections are the issue of concern, those who are in power forget about the mandate given to them by the people—that of serving the public without selfish interest.
And it’s amazing how our leaders are now showing true colors of deception and guile even if our country has professed to be the only Christian-dominated nation in Asia and its people, who are proclaimed to be followers of Christ, are bound to have faith in the Almighty—no matter what!
Yet despite the chaos and destruction brought by the recent super typhoon Odette, the more than 84 million Catholic Christians, particularly those in the Visayas, have faithfully continued attending traditional pre-dawn masses in the run-up to Christmas. Many of them flock to churches in this time of dire need, and even the worst affected ones vow to complete the novena masses, known locally as Simbang Gabi and held between December 16 and Christmas Eve.
Father Dennis Llogon from Surigao del Norte did not express surprise, saying that “many of our parishioners are still attending our dawn masses at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral” despite the hardships they face in the aftermath of Odette—severe hunger, homelessness, and deprivation and even with no electricity nor ample communication to air their predicament to the national government and charitable institutions like Caritas and the Philippine Red Cross.
Still, Fr. Llogon expressed amazement at the devotion of churchgoers even though many had lost their homes to the storm which as of December 22 (on my birthday) had left at least 375 dead and 56 people missing.
He added that many of our Catholic brethren still believe that attending the dawn masses was one of the holiest preparations a person could make for the coming of the Christ-child.
But there are a lot of questions around why such a calamity happened and why during this Christmas season.
Quizzical about the situation, though, we must realize that what is important is our staunch faith in the Almighty. If we have that kind of faith then we should feel God’s presence—as so do most of us who have a true relationship with God.
For me, I hear God’s words in every person I talk to and I feel Him in everything around me—even the animals and objects that surround us, God talks or make us feel His presence every day.
Nearly a week after one of the strongest storms ever to hit the Philippines struck, many victims are crying out for aid after being left homeless and being forced to sleep on sidewalks and in makeshift shelters and this apart from the hunger they feel and lack of drinkable water.
Now is the time to work together—and not the time to campaign for next year’s elections. We must stop converting or using the situation for political gain.
So in this time of dire need, we hope that our politicians will set aside intrigue and politics. Our leaders should remember that we can only survive this crisis—and many more crises to come—if we start to think of others.