Where’s Jesus Christ?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-02-03

Where’s Jesus Christ? How come there’s hardly Christ that’s reflected in the behavior of people who call themselves Christians, most of them Roman Catholics? Christ commanded us to love the least of our brethren but the least is hardly cared for in our country. Instead, the least are exploited.

Where’s Jesus Christ? How come some of his Bishops have abandoned their vows and are now embracing worldly bad habits. They’ve metamorphosed as today’s Pharisees. How come some of the Catholic Bishops have actively embraced politics, the realm of the temporal power, when their role is to shepherd the spiritual needs of God’s flock?

“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus Christ said and so why are the men of the cloth so rich and do not even open their vast lands to provide homes for the poorest of the poor?

Where’s Jesus Christ when an Archbishop here said that there can be no reconciliation with the current administration because of the RH Bill? Didn’t Christ preach that we should love your enemies and turn the other cheek? “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Christ also said.

Where’s Jesus Christ? How come some of those lay organizations, that we had hoped would be the saviors of the Catholic Church, have lost their dynamism to reach out and embrace the least of our brethren? Many of them have transformed into exclusive clubs instead of going out and sharing their ideal with the least who have not experienced it or even heard of it. They were supposed to go out of their comfort zones and uplift others — yet they barricaded themselves like a quarantine camp, fearing contamination.

Christian groups that operate like exclusive social clubs are falling into the very same syndrome that engulfed the early Church under St. Peter. Christianity would not have grown if they had persisted in hiding in the catacombs. It was the ascendancy of St. Paul that paved the way for Christians to go out and spread the faith among the nations.

Today, the Catholic Church is badly in need of a St. Paul — one who sees a brother in every different race that he encounters and in every person with a different mindset that he meets. Christianity is a revolution and isn’t meant to be an exclusive club or a quarantine area. Christ embraced the lepers. How much more vivid an example do these Catholic groups need in order to appreciate and internalize the point?

As it was then in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ today continues to be betrayed by those who are supposed to champion His cause and raise His standard on earth. His very enemies, the Pharisees, have passed on their disease to some Bishops here and other members of the clergy. The Pharisees were good at posing as pious men while privately they worshipped Mammon, not the Lord, and played politics.

To be fair, there those like the Jesuits who remain dedicated to the Christian dynamism that St. Paul exemplified. The Jesuits set the example in spreading the Christian mission as well as promote worthy causes like the Gawad Kalinga of Tony Meloto. It’s no coincidence that some Bishops opted to treat Tony Meloto as a leper and ordered the separation of the Couples for Christ from Gawad Kalinga.

This issue demonstrates the divide between Catholics who see more importance in just talking about God instead of embracing the lepers of this world like Christ did. Who’s the real Christian and follower of Christ — the so-called ‘evangelist’ who does nothing but preach or the person who embraces the least of his brethren, provides them homes and teaches them values that help them rise from their sorry conditions?

Jesus Christ simplified our trek to Heaven by issuing a simple commandment that would have ensured that we would remain in the state of grace. That commandment of the Lord is: “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren, you do unto me.” Knowing our pigheadedness, the Lord even rephrased that commandment to: “Love one another as I have loved you.” That means that we embrace the lepers, we suffer for the sins of others and we even offer our lives for others.

In the Gospels, the only instance when Christ demonstrated anger and physical violence was when He created a commotion in the temple over the commerce that was being transacted there. That would underscore that the Lord saw the insidious corrosion that the filthy coin of commerce does to the soul. The coin of commerce is the currency of Mammon and we should not be too attached to it. We should be especially wary not to catch the disease of wanting to have too much of it.

A Jesuit education is aimed at developing men for others. And yet, Jesuit-educated Ateneo alumni have taken their ignoble place as the Blue Vultures that plundered our poor country. To steal P10 from the poor is greater transgression in the eyes of the Lord than to steal P100,000 from a billionaire. How could Jesuit-bred Ateneans steal so much from a very poor country like ours? Theirs is the disease of Mammon.

Where’s Jesus Christ? How come that after over 400 hundred years of administering the Christian faith here there’s so much greed, violence, back-stabbing and hatred in our archipelago? Isn’t this a condemnation of the failure of the Catholic Church in the Philippines? How come, with all their parishes, they never made an impact on promoting values the way Gawad Kalinga has successfully been doing it? How come then that some Bishops separated themselves from Gawad Kalinga? Maybe it’s the fear of the unworthy to stand beside the worthy and thus be exposed.

One of the most dramatic messages that catapulted Ramon Magsaysay to the presidency in 1953 was an artist’s rendition of how he carried the body of Moises Padilla, a local hero who was publicly beaten and then killed by a powerful warlord. On Plaza Miranda, Magsaysay wisely followed up the impact of the poster and announced that when he carried the body of Moises Padilla (which he never did), he felt that he was carrying the body of the Filipino people.

Our Catholic Church leaders could learn a lesson from the late president Ramon Magsaysay over the carrying of the body of Moises Padilla. It’s time that our Catholic Church leaders embrace and carry the least of the Filipino people. Open your coffers, share your lands and stop indulging in politics.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

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