A time to hope

By: JASON BAGUIA December 01,2017 - 11:23 PM


Ten years ago, our then pope Benedict XVI released the encyclical letter “Spe Salvi” (Saved in Hope). The letter to Catholics across the world was released November 30, the feast of Saint Andrew, Jesus Christ’s first-called apostle, and the eve of Advent, the penitential season in preparation for Christmas.

I keep returning to the letter because over the years, I have found it to be a ready source of helpful meditations on hope amid a world where the news tends to deliver deadly doses of despair.

Like his first encyclical, the Christmas release “Deus Caritas Est,” Pope Benedict’s “Spe Salvi” is a salve for the soul, written in accessible language and with prophetic relevance to our unfolding history.

There is much reason for the Filipino to return to the letter over and over again in our turbulent days. Our political leaders have demonstrated yet again that our redemption is not in the hands of the powerful of this world.

For instance, I see a judiciary marred by jealousy and strife. High officials to whose names the word “justice” is appended seem to so lack the wisdom and disposition to resolve their internal conflicts, they now have to make a spectacle of their dirty linen in a branch of government whose majority has long ago made an oblation of their own chamber’s independence on Malacañang’s doorstep.

I have read that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a woman of faith, so I do not think she needs more spiritual insights in this hour when her good office is under fire.

Nevertheless, I am sure that those of us who stand in solidarity with her hope that she is receiving something of the word of Benedict, himself a continuing subject of unfair ridicule, who wrote:

“A first essential setting for learning hope is prayer. When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me. When I have been plunged into complete solitude, if I pray I am never totally alone” (Spe Salvi, no. 32).

The only sin that the Chief Justice committed was that she insisted on the primacy of due process in the face of the current administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

For this, she is being punished with an attempt to unseat her through proceedings that appear to simply go through the motions of due process.

Her accuser is confident that she will be impeached. This certainty, together with the de facto expulsion of the Chief Justice’s lawyers from the Lower House, shows that no one, at least no one in the so-called august halls of the Lower House, is really willing to listen to her anymore.

Elsewhere, supporters of the President have taken to the streets to demand for the establishment of a revolutionary government.

Do they know what they are doing? Do they know they are prodding their principal to undermine the very Constitution he swore to uphold?

Malacañang plays coy, with the presidential spokesperson saying that for now his boss sees no reason to declare a revolutionary government.

But such a statement conveniently ignores the fear that has been generated by the mere conjuring of the specter of such a putsch-based government in our public conversation.

It also fails to soothe a populace that has been lied to, told that martial law will not come to pass, that lasting peace will be achieved, that Marawi City would be swiftly won back, that the mayor of Davao City two years ago had no presidential aspirations, that our West Philippine Sea territories are now in good hands.

Toying with the idea of a revolutionary government highlights the despair of its advocates who desire to perpetuate in power someone they perceive to be a sociopolitical messiah.

I can only hope that those inclined to support a revolutionary government listen to the wisdom of Benedict:

“God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is ‘truly’ life” (Spe Salvi, no. 31).

Let us not run the bark of our nation aground with a desperate revolt in which our hopes are reposed on a misperception of perfect leadership, of divinity in one man who has brandished his flaws like a trophy.

Like Christmas, the birth of the Savior, the events that truly dignify humanity and make life flourish do not happen in the grand moves of the great and mighty.

They happen in stillness and are witnessed only by those who have the humility of shepherds and the discernment of magi.

They are as quiet as the consoling of those who are falsely accused and unjustly killed, as hidden as the rehabilitation of those who used to be shackled by addictions, as anonymous as the tenacious dedication of those who genuinely serve the poorest without fanfare.

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