By REV. ARIEL SIAGAN, IEMELIF
Isaiah 6: 1-8
John 3: 1-17
The lectionary reading for this Sunday presents us the different complimentary facets of the persons of the Holy Trinity. In Isaiah 6:1-8, God sits on a high and lofty throne, glorious and holy. It was narrated on a backdrop of the death of King Uzziah. The Holy God is on the throne in the midst of a social crisis, a show of his sovereign rule. In John 3, God is en-fleshed in Jesus, the unassuming teacher to Nicodemus who at that time was conflicted, experiencing the dark night of the soul as he appeared in the middle of the night. In Romans 8, God is the Spirit who testifies and advocates, that we should no longer live in fear and shame. Throughout the different biblical time-period, God has clever ways of communicating in ways and forms that may give comfort, assurance, and empowerment to the people of God in a conspicuously comprehensible manner.
God is in the business of caring for all his entire creation. The Holy Trinity is a manifestation that he never ceased to be a distant God who walked away after creation. God, in different times and places and contexts, have manifested differently and relevantly. The Holy Trinity evidences to the fact that God is intervening in the flow of history. The manifestations of God defies normal logic. They manifest themselves in ways that surprises the people. God indeed cannot be boxed. God would go as far as defying the orthodoxies of people’s doctrinal commitments just to show and manifests his love, especially to those who have been marginalized and excluded by those human orthodoxies. In the lectionary, the readings show the shifts and turns of how God would manifest and make concrete his love for humanity. God did not remain on the throne, he was born as flesh and blood to be the worthy sacrifice for our sins. Yet he did not remain dead on the cross, he lived with and among us through the Spirit. The Holy Trinity fulfill its concrete presence in the lives of the people. That is how God operates: it defies boundaries of human logic and expectations just to express care and love.
The recent government’s pronouncement on community pantries is the exact opposite of expressing care. General Parlade of the National task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflic (NTF-ELCAC) has red-tagged community pantry organizer Ana Patricia Non announcing its links with rebel groups. He goes as far as demonizing her by comparing her with the snake in the Genesis narrative. His pronouncement, linking the organizers to rebel groups, has sent shockwaves of fear that threatened many. Some community pantries have to closed down for good reasons, despite the clamor of poor people for more help. Some were not deterred. Irish Inoceto, a community pantry organizer in Iloilo, was included as one of the persons depicted by tarpaulin banner hanging in a highly trafficked area in the city. She felt harassed, though her motivations came from the noblest of intentions.
This government move should not come as a surprise. Just last year, Jory Porquia, an activist and urban poor organizer, was red-tagged by the government before he was murdered by unknown assailants at his home in Iloilo City. He was just distributing food items in his economically-insecure, urban poor community. Other activists known for their work of alleviating their community’s suffering have suffered the same fate. The faces of Randy Malayao, Randy Echanis, and Sarah Alvarez come to my mind. The Duterte government seems to have countless ways of maligning those who wants to help the suffering poor people. He is apathetic to the concerns of the ordinary poor Filipinos. Community pantries should have not been an option if the government cared for the plight of the poor during this pandemic. Furthermore, a large sum of budget intended for the pandemic has been sitting somewhere in government banks unspent despite obvious suffering of many urban poor communities. Many have lost their jobs and therefore unable to sustain their lives. But the government has the audacity to remain the same, not spending the budget meant for the people. Their inaction is a big atrocity especially that for many, it spells out the difference between life and death.
At this time of pandemic, the image and concept of the Holy Trinity challenge us to care more and express it in a comprehensible manner. It is also a fitting critique to the indifferent, heartless, incompetent, and calloused response of the Duterte government to the plight of the Filipino people. At times like this when the pull towards isolation is greater than having oneself be of service to others, it is important to reflect how far the Holy Trinity is defying the human logic just to express how they love and care for us. We can do the same: defy the logic of our own selfish interest and have it surrendered to the greater work of justice and peace.
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).