By. REV. MARMA URBANO
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Last Friday, June 5, 2020, I witnessed how a young girl was handcuffed, forcibly grabbed and carried by a big man holding an M16 as if she were a pig to be brought for slaughter. I heard another girl crying. More than the words she was muttering, I heard so much rage but also so much fear. No matter how she invoked her rights on top of her voice, she appeared helpless in the face of these armed men. These two girls were among the seven students of the University of the Philippines in Cebu who were arrested for violating social distancing during Covid-19. The UP Cebu administration averred that their students held a peaceful protest against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill. For that, they were given a foretaste of the terror that the Bill could do. The sight was so disturbing, so outrageous. I could not even claim to know how the mothers of these girls felt.
COVID-19 has revealed the deep roots of systemic injustice and reminds us why seeking justice, pursuing peace is essential. We have seen thousands of cases of extra-judicial killings, of arrests, of the intensification of attacks and threats against community leaders, human rights defenders, and political dissenters. Living out our faith in Jesus is more than ever important when laws like the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 are enacted. The current Human Security Act of 2007 which will replace it is problematic enough.
Today’s bible texts have become so clear and relevant. In times like these, nothing can be so reassuring than the Trinity – the power and collective authority in heaven and on earth that has been given to Jesus.
Being attuned and committed to the heart of Jesus’ mission and ministry of transforming persons, systems and patterns of relationships has become very comprehendible to me. The message of Jesus’ Gospel and its imperatives in today’s context have become crystal clear : 1) a radical critique of the reigning political establishment, 2) a radical opposition against any power that seeks to exploit, oppress, dominate and dehumanize people, 3) the liberation of the Filipino people from any power—domestic or foreign; 4) the creation of a society that is just, free, and human where everyone can enjoy all the rights that are inalienable to every human being. Teaching the people to obey everything Jesus has commanded is all the more very crucial.
Being baptized in the name of Jesus means that by Jesus’ authority and power, we will have the heart and the strength of will, the depths of courage to do these things for our people, for our country, for God’s world. Grow your love. Claim the power.
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).