A ‘the­ol­ogy of re­silience’ in the Philip­pines

Watchmen Daily Journal - - OPINION - By Br. Jess Ma­tias

Filipinos are known for their nat­u­ral re­silience, man­i­fested in those who, after a cat­a­clysmic event, are able to rise from the de­bris and ashes of their de­stroyed lives, at times even with a sense of hu­mor.

It ap­pears that this in­trin­sic re­silience em­anates from an act of self-tran­scen­dence. The Filipino is ca­pa­ble and ac­tu­ally tran­scends be­yond one's suf­fer­ing and senses God's wis­dom, thus en­abling one­self to ac­cept one's cir­cum­stances with more hu­mil­ity and pa­tience, and to be­gin the process of self-restora­tion.

This may yet be one of the more im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions of the Catholic faith to our peo­ple: the Philip­pine Church's nearly five cen­turies of ex­is­tence has solidly im­printed on our cul­ture an al­most in­domitable and nearly mys­ti­cal trust in the prov­i­dence of God.

This un­wa­ver­ing faith shown in the many forms and va­ri­eties of ex­er­cises in pop­u­lar piety is the strong foun­da­tion that sup­ports self-tran­scen­dence and con­se­quently makes re­silience pos­si­ble. This sel­f­un­der­stand­ing of God that strength­ens Filipinos in times of crises may be called a "the­ol­ogy of re­silience."

The the­ol­ogy of re­silience — a self-un­der­stand­ing of God that strength­ens Filipinos in times of crises, aided by a nat­u­ral ca­pac­ity for self-tran­scen­dence and founded on strong Catholic re­li­gios­ity — is the theod­icy that may ex­ist in the con­text of ma­jor­ity of Filipinos who are eas­ily sus­cep­ti­ble to suf­fer­ings in many forms due to poverty: un­af­ford­able ed­u­ca­tion, il­lit­er­acy, low-pay­ing oc­cu­pa­tions, lack of ac­cess to qual­ity health sys­tems, con­stant ex­po­sure to so­cial vi­o­lence, etc.

What can the Gospel of Je­sus Christ teach us in af­firm­ing this the­ol­ogy of re­silience as a rel­e­vant theod­icy for liv­ing — or sur­viv­ing — our Philip­pine con­text?

A clear hermeneu­ti­cal clue to val­i­dat­ing our pos­i­tive at­ti­tude of Filipino re­silience may be seen in the en­tire paschal mys­tery — the life, death and res­ur­rec­tion of our Lord.

Je­sus, like Job, had an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with God, with a fidelity so zeal­ous for the re­al­iza­tion of his Fa­ther's king­ship that he eas­ily be­came a rad­i­cal fig­ure in his time and a dis­turb­ing mem­ory for our time.

But he was also vul­ner­a­ble, and in spite of a stead­fast trust in his beloved Abba (fa­ther), he suf­fered from doubts, lone­li­ness and the emo­tional an­guish of feel­ing for­saken.

He also suf­fered through­out his min­istry, con­stantly aware of the hurt and evil around him, of the ex­tent to which pride and self­ish­ness in an oth­er­wise "civ­i­lized" so­ci­ety can cre­ate and per­pet­u­ate a caste of the hu­mil­i­ated marginal­ized, and of the heroic ef­forts nec­es­sary to change this dis­torted so­cial or­der.

Con­fronted with his own hu­man lim­i­ta­tions and this task of im­mense mag­ni­tude of ad­vo­cat­ing for a self­less love as the cor­ner­stone for so­cial jus­tice and peace, he amaz­ingly learned the way of ac­cep­tance, of pa­tient and hum­ble sur­ren­der to the will of God.

And the way of ac­cep­tance has be­come the way of the cross. In those fi­nal hours of agony, not only did Je­sus gave us the per­fect por­trait of ac­cep­tance and com­plete sur­ren­der in suf­fer­ing but also the chal­lenge of for­giv­ing the pride and self­ish­ness that caused it.

In his min­istry, his love for those in the pe­riph­ery and his com­pas­sion for those who seek free­dom from the bondage of an in­escapable and dis­crim­i­nated so­cial im­age was bound­less.

Sur­pris­ingly, in his Pas­sion, this same mercy was poured out even to those who were in the tight grip of evil: to his "judges," tor­men­tors, to all who re­jected him and to all who re­mained in­dif­fer­ent and un­con­cerned.

Dur­ing his trial, the in­no­cently ac­cused yet un­for­given one be­came the for­giver of all; truly in his death, he gave life.

At the mo­ment of death, the way of ac­cep­tance, com­plete sur­ren­der and un­con­di­tional for­give­ness led to the death of "death" it­self, to the ir­re­versible demise of the power of sin and to the un­ques­tion­able vic­tory of God over evil.

Like Job, God will al­ways be with us in our suf­fer­ings, and in the end he will lead us to be with him in his eter­nal tri­umph.

The res­ur­rec­tion, in which the Spirit lifted up Je­sus from the realm of the dead, is our en­dur­ing as­sur­ance that God will al­ways have the last word.

This paschal life-con­fig­u­ra­tion — suf­fer­ing be­cause of evil, ac­cep­tance of suf­fer­ing, for­giv­ing evil, and the hope of vindi­ca­tion over evil — can serve as the ba­sis for the

un­der­stand­ing that God will sup­port us in our suf­fer­ings, and that he will carry us to live to see its glo­ri­ous end­ing. Destruc on, vi­o­lence and de­spair will have its own me of ex­pira on.

Like the pli­ancy of the bam­boo — s ll un­bro­ken de­spite strong typhoon winds — we are made firm, per­haps un­con­sciously by our yearly fas­ci­na­tion with the three-day drama of the do­lor­ous "senakulo" and the ju­bi­lant "salubong."

If we are con­stantly re­minded that Je­sus won in the end, then we will win, too.

The ex­em­plary min­istry of Je­sus af­firms con­sis­tent and per­sis­tent pres­ence and com­pan­ion­ship as a vi­tal el­e­ment of ef­fec­tive pas­toral care.

It also af­firms a "grace of suf­fer­ing" in the con­text of mis­sion and min­istry — that our own pain, doubt and anger, as well as our re­al­iza­tions of hope in the face of suf­fer­ing, will be im­por­tant in help­ing us help those who are in sim­i­lar pain, doubt and anger.

Too often, we may only see the suf­fer­ings of oth­ers as "ex­ter­nal" to our "own happy lit­tle world." Their strug­gles must be­come our strug­gles re­lived for their sake; their bat­tle be­comes our bat­tle to­gether.

As Chris­tians, we must see the plight of the down­trod­den, with the eyes of the one who wept along with those who cried out from the dev­as­ta­tion of their hearts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.