Weekly Reflections: A Christmas and year end message 2016


“Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die? No, I would rather see them repent and live” — Ezekiel 18:19

Change is coming

“Change is coming!” proclaimed our newly installed president of the Republic, President Rodrigo R. Duterte. He solemnly promised that under his leadership graft and corruption, illegal drugs, and criminality will be reduced to the minimum, if not entirely eradicated. And he repeatedly said that he is willing to kill or to be killed to fulfill this promise.

President Duterte said that his government is not only a “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” but also “a government for the least, the last, and the lost.” He responded positively to the yearning for peace in our country to our hearts’ delight and excitement, and worked out for the resumption of the peace talks with the rebel forces that had been suspended for many years.

Similarly, Vice President Leni G. Robredo also emphasized that her services as the second highest leader of the land will be focused on “those at the margins of society.”

All these progressive statements make us extremely hopeful and expectant that fundamental changes in our nation’s life will, indeed, come about with this new government.

Shaking of the foundations

Indeed, we are living in these changing times. Foundations of the present order – be it political, social or even religious – are now beginning to shake. Some are alarmed, because of the extra judicial killings happening almost daily. Thousands have been killed already since the Duterte Government started its relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

While we support the government’s drug campaign and deeply sympathize with the President’s drug concern, it doesn’t mean though that we also support the killing of people related to drugs, be it judicial or extra-judicial.

As one writer rightly said that the spring of lawlessness in this country is not lack of respect for law. It is lack of respect for human life. This cannot be solved by the harshest punishment or even the strictest enforcement of law and order. Ironically, it can only be solved by the strictest enforcement of human rights.

Sanctity of human life

Human life is sacred and precious. The Writer of the Book of Jonah, for instance, believed that God sent Prophet Jonah to the City of Nineveh to preach to the people there so that they would repent, change their ways, and they would be saved. But Prophet Jonah didn’t want to go there, because he wanted God to annihilate the people of Nineveh for being evil, for they were the ones who destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

But the Writer of the Book of Jonah believed that the God of the Bible is a good God and his love is for all, not only for the righteous but even for the sinners, not only for those whom we consider as friends but even for those whom we regard as enemies. In the Book of Ezekiel, God also said, “Do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die? No, I would rather see them repent and live” (Ez. 18:19). Hence, there is always hope even for evil people.

Vision of the Kingdom of God

But many are excited that genuine changes people are longing for a long time may finally come to pass. The hopeful promises of the Duterte Administration should not make us complacent though, but rather it should challenge us and make us even more vigilant in accompanying this new government in all its efforts to fulfill its promises for the common good. We must do our pastoral and prophetic tasks even more seriously. Our vision of the Kingdom of God must remain as our overriding vision of society.

The Duterte Government is not the Kingdom of God. All governments, including that of Duterte, must be assessed and evaluated in terms of the values of the Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus Christ our Lord in words and in deeds.

The Kingdom of God should be our hope as well as our criterion by which we view governments in terms of their distance or proximity to the aspirations which God himself projects for this world. In this way, the Kingdom of God helps us to live in this world, to care for this world and to involve ourselves in the transformation of this world.

A personal note

As we look back to this passing year and look forward to the coming year, we do feel a deep sense of gratitude for God’s gracious faithfulness shown to us as a family and as God’s servants in many ways beyond measure.

Our eldest Son, Leo, took the bar exams last November. He is dreaming to be a lawyer someday, although he has already a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master in Microbiology from the University of the Philippines.

Our Architect Son, Lean, and his Architect Wife, Annabelle, decided to return abroad and work in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, after coming home from Doha, Qatar, and worked with a firm in Makati for quite some time. Lean was top three in the Licensure Exams for Architect in the entire Middle East.

Our youngest Son, Roland, is a medical doctor, passed the Board Exams this year, and now working as a resident orthopaedic physician at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

Our “Adopted Daughter”, Aileen, has a Bachelor of Church Music, a LET passer, and now working with us in our Seminary as Library Assistant. Hopefully, she would be taken in as teacher in an international school of a partner church in South Korea.

Our Seminary, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS), is yet to be relocated to give way for the development of our unfinished Seminary building into a hotel. Unfortunately, the plan to buy a lot at Quirino Hill to serve as relocation site for ETS did not materialize.

But apparently, God has better plans beyond our imaginations! The Rivera-Concepcion Family graciously donated to our church their 800 square meter lot at Camp Seven purposely to put up our seminary facilities there, including a chapel and a retreat house within three years time.

This is surprising and unexpected! It is not part of our drawing board. Indeed, God has an awesome way of responding to our needs! Truly, God’s sustaining grace is sufficient for us in the past, at the present, and in the years to come. God is good, indeed, all the time!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! # nordis.net


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