16th Sunday in Ordinaty Time (A)
July 17, 2011


Patience is what the readings lead me to reflect on today, even as I wait patiently for a delayed flight to Cebu, where a task awaits me over the weekend. Patience is what I needed to have all through the week, as once again, I saw how a powerful PR machinery has all but reduced the Catholic Church to a humiliating, defensive stance, beset by unfair, and, for the most part, untruthful, accusations involving two separate issues: SUVs or so-called luxury vehicles, and supposedly illegal receipt of funds from the state-run and state-owned lotteries.

The accusations later turned out to be duds, inventions and machinations of a PR team that was apparently well-funded, who did their homeworks, and almost succeeded to pull off a caper consisting of half-truths and suggested associations with a much-hated and also much maligned former president.

Despite the clarifications that ensued in the Senate investigation last Wednesday, the damage has been done. Most of the Filipino people believed what manipulative media and certain personalities in media who hammered on the issue of the "Pajero 7" "Mitsubishops" kept on saying - just one more case of a big lie that when repeated often enough, at a certain point became truth.

Despite the apologies of one of the 7 whose "lapse of judgment" led him to ask for help from the President then, the moniker stuck ... Pajero bishops, Mitsubishops, and other unsavory titles some of which had nothing to do at all with the issue at hand. Those who hated the Church to begin with, appeared to have gotten a few more weapons in their growing arsenal, and those of us who believed all along in the Church as a community of saints and sinners, a field where there are real plants and tares, and wheats and weeds, were at a loss trying to defend what reputation was left for the institution that was hated by those who have always hated her, and loved by those who have always understood the fact that the "Kingdom-in-the-making" encompassed both saints and sinners.

Saints ... we have them in the Church, here, there, and everywhere. Sanctity is alive and well ... holiness is thriving in the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The ordinarily snotty bishops, whose stature, real or imagined, is made bigger by their miters and croziers, were humbled ... And humble, I might add, a number of them really are.

Saints ... I see them from where I stand ... people who keep on believing despite the bad examples of their leaders, their priests and pastors, who keep on believing the holiness of the Church, despite it all, because the founder Himself, Jesus Christ, is holy and undefiled.

Saints ... I see them in former students of decades back who refuse to give in to discouragement and despair seeing how much maligned the institutional Church is for speaking about and standing up for moral truth. I am awed by how erudite and passionate some of them have become in seeking for personal holiness, and seeing the richness of the liturgy of a Church that is seen as less than holy by those who simply refuse to believe what they have set out from the very start as not worthy of belief.

Sinners .... I see it in mendacious media practitioners who claim to be catholics, but who choose what to believe in ... I see it also in some of our leaders, who are guilty not only of "lapses of judgement" but who foray a little bit too much into the controversial world of partisan politics. I see it in pastors who become a little too friendly and cozy with rich friends who can give them what they ask for, including, as we have seen of late, Mitsubishi Monteros and other worldly goods.

Sinners ... I see it in people who sacrifice even the reputation of a whole institution just to cover up their own shenanigans crying out to high heavens for justice. I see it in criminal high profile families who suddenly, like the proverbial leopard changing their spots, turn a new leaf and ask to be made into state witness, like as if everyone in the country was born yesterday.

Sinners ... I see it in the deeply embedded and hydra-headed institutionally built-in world of corruption in and out of government, from top to bottom, where after they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, just about everyone gets a sudden medical condition, and goes into pretended hysterics, crying crocodile tears, professing undying honesty and integrity, even as, as we all know by now, hundreds of millions, if not billions, have gone somewhere up in the clouds, with not a single one of them knowing where they went. Cloud computing was not invented by Apple ... no, but by these crooks who all profess they know nothing about what happened to the money, which are apparently somewhere in the clouds right now!

Sinners ... I see it in me. I see it in you my dear reader. I see it in all of us, the massa damnata that St. Augustine referred to, and lest we forget, "there but for the grace of God, go I."

But I also see hope in this sobering reality that has occupied primal place in our waking and sleeping thoughts in these past few weeks. I see it in the good news that juts out of all three readings. I see it in a God who reveals Himself as a patient, long-suffering God, whose "might is the source of justice;" but whose "mastery over all things makes Him lenient to all." (1st Reading).

I see it in the Holy Spirit who, despite our propensity to be hard headed and crooked, "comes to the aid of our weakness," and "intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will."

I see hope in the parable of the Lord who today shows us the reality of a world filled with all sorts of characters: the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly; the saints and sinners that we all are without exception.

I see hope in a God of patience who waits and allows us to be what we are, to become what we are called to be, each in our own pace and capacity.

I see it in a Church that though humiliated, took resort to further humility, and humbled themselves even more, by saying sorry to a flock that has been hurt and offended once too often by both leaders and followers, who willingly on unwittingly, have inflicted serious wounds on the Church, and our passionate and dedicated love and commitment for Her.

I am one of those wounded. As a priest, I am wounded by lapses of judgment of our superiors. But I am wounded, too, by unfair, unjust, and blatantly harmful lies and half truths designed by a PR practitioner, to hit right for the jugular, and cause untold harm to the ordinary people's simple faith and obedience to a Church that, they see, and they know, is the sure guide to holiness of life and salvation.

I am wounded. I am even angered. But I am not defeated. I am not discouraged. I am a sinner... that much I know ... that much my friends know. But I am, like everyone of my readers, also inspired and encouraged to go on striving, for this Kingdom-in-the-making, is hard-wired by the Founder, to lead us to fullness of life, to fullness of human flourishing, and to eternal salvation.

In the meantime, we have to struggle in this valley of tears ... you and I ... and we ought, and we will travel far together, till we reach heaven that is our true home.

NAIA Centennial Terminal

July 15, 2011 6:25 PM


Very well said. Tagos sa puso.