Sever the roots of corruption
Brothers and sisters, many people have used the verses 5:2930 from the book of Matthew to justify claims that the Bible agrees with the brutal and inhumane acts of punishment for those who committed a grave sin. this is what we hear from Jesus during his sermon in the mountains about adultery. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.”
A fierce warning, isn’t it?
But like what you have heard, we must not take these words literally. According to Bible experts, what Jesus stated is a clear example of hyperbole, phrases or statements intently exaggerated to emphasize the message he wants to convey to his followers and listeners. In this case, our Lord focuses on the importance of avoiding sin and man’s ability to stop himself or herself from committing sin. Beyond the meaning of these words, which seemed to be having a cruel tone, we
can see that the will of God is our way of redemption. If we keep ourselves away from sin, we will keep ourselves away from hell.
Nevertheless, it is easier for some of us to interpret the words spoken in the Bible in a literal sense. And we can see this being done by some of our leaders. In the past week, for example, the loyal assistant of President Duterte, Senator Bong Go, suggested to punish those behind the immense Philhealth corruption by cutting their fingers to “end the calvary of the Filipinos.” According to bible experts, what Jesus stated is a clear example of hyperbole, phrases or statements intently exaggerated to emphasize the message he wants to convey to his followers and listeners. In this case, our Lord focuses on the importance of avoiding sin and man’s ability to stop himself from committing sin.
He made this proposal “out of frustration” during the virtual public hearing conducted by the Senate on Philhealth irregularities. It was also said that Senate President Vicente Sotto III would have liked the idea, but as he mentioned, severing the fingers of corrupt government officials was inhumane and unconstitutional. They may not have used the Bible to justify their suggested cruel punishment, but what they said proves that the belief of using cruel ways to stop people from committing sin exists.
No matter how many fingers we sever from corrupt officials, corruption per se will not cease as long as the mechanisms that oversee every step taken and decisions made by those we entrusted to serve the people remain weak. As long as there is a chance for some of our leaders to do wrong, corruption will continue. As long as those on top of our government continue to dismiss the allegations against their allies, corruption will continue. As long as we overlook the crooked ways of government officials because of fear or beneficial prejudice, corruption will continue. Corruption is a complicated problem in government because it is not only about our officials’ capabilities to stop committing sin; this is accompanied by the systems and structures needed to be maintained strong so that from the beginning, there wouldn’t be any room for corrupt acts and practices.
Brothers and sisters, the Catholic social teaching Centesimus Annus considers corruption of our officials in government as one of the many reasons for the loss of strength of a country, and the loss of this strength is an obstacle toward true progress. In other words, corruption in government has a large and extensive negative effect. We cannot sever this by just cutting the fingers of corrupt officials in government.
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