Opinion & Analysis

Bridging faith and action

6:46 PM, December 21, 2018

Philippines:Catholics striving for a better society are challenged to bear witness to God's love.

Piety is demonstrated during the Christmas season in the Philippines when Filipino families attend early morning Mass every day for nine days prior to Christmas Day. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

It was one of those holy days in the heavenly realm. St. Peter took a day off while he was being relieved by his brother St. Andrew.

The Lord said to Andrew, "Andrew bar-Jonah, let's go to Earth and see how things are."

They came upon a group of fishermen in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea, who were fighting for their rights against those who were trying to bully them as they were fishing within the zone of their maritime area.

"Andrew, who are those?"

"Lord they are those who follow your words about social justice, setting at liberty those who were oppressed."

"Oh, Andrew," said the Lord, "they shouldn't have taken my words too seriously."

They moved on a little farther and saw a group of environmental activists who are opposing the building up of three mega dams.

The Lord asked Andrew, "Who are those?"

"Lord, they are those who follow your words about preaching the Gospel to the whole of creation, protecting the environment since they are now left only with a decade to revert the worsening effects of global climate change."

The Lord shook his head, and said, "They shouldn't have taken my words too seriously."

They moved on and saw people who were trying to console the family of the victims of extrajudicial killings.

The Lord asked, "And who are those?"

Andrew answered, "They are those who follow your words by taking care of the widows and the orphans."

"They shouldn't have taken my words seriously, Andrew."

They finally came into a massive well-decorated church with people busy preparing for their fifth centenary, in a country where everything seems to deteriorate, from economy to values.

"Who are those?"

"Lord, they are those who are not taking your words seriously."

On the Feast of St. Andrew last month, the readings during our celebrations stressed the importance of the Word and the challenge to bear witness to it.

The Gospel, taken from Matthew, follows the Markan tradition. Jesus called apostles, and they left their nets.

There are some more accounts that tell of Andrew, supposedly the apostle who told Jesus of the boy with barley loaves, who commented on the massive walls supporting the temple, and who served as the bridge between the Jewish and Greek followers of Jesus.

But among all these, what seems to be not given too much attention to is the fact that Andrew was the protokletos, he is the one "first called."

He is the one who even led Peter his brother to Jesus. He served as the bridge between his brother and the Lord. We have already pointed out that he also served as the bridge between the Jewish and the Gentile believers.

People who are called can serve as bridge only after they have allowed the Word to go through them, enabling them to bear witness to the love of Jesus.

The Word of God first went through Andrew when he listened to the words of John the Baptist who himself bore witness to the love of the Lamb of God. When Jesus invited him to come and see where Jesus was staying, stayed, at least on that day.

It will be revealed much later in the Fourth Gospel that Jesus would want his disciples to remain in his love. Love is where Jesus is staying.

Jesus let his followers to experience his love before inviting them to remain in such love. Now, this highlights the fact that the bridge can only serve well when it is connected to Jesus himself and his love.

The greatest challenge for today's followers of Jesus is to bridge God's loved for us and the kind of faith we profess, which is deeply connected to the love that is much needed today in our society.

The Philippines is heading towards having had 500 years of being Christianity. There is so much to reflect on what's happening around us, on our sovereignty, on global climate change, on an ever-escalating violence.

There's so much to do as well.

We, who love the Word, are now challenged to serve as a bridge between the faith we profess and the actions we do, which will truly bear witness to God's as we aspire for a better Philippine society.

Only then we can say that we are taking the Word of the Lord seriously.     

Franciscan priest Cristino Robles Pine is dean of the Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Manila.

Source: UCAN

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