By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” — Psalm 121:1-2
Indigenous People’s Month
October is the month set aside for us to remember our indigenous peoples. It is not because they are a special people, but rather because we do share with them a common humanity; their survival will also be our own survival. They are among the least of our brothers and sisters. According to Matthew’s Gospel, when the Final Judgment comes, we would hear the Master saying, “What you have done to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me” (cf. Mt. 25:31-46).
Indigenous peoples today are among the primary victims of development aggression. Their land and their way of life are being subjugated by those whose god is their money and whose un-Christian way of life is consisted with things they possess.
Mountains as God’s dwelling places
It is quite interesting to note that most indigenous peoples live in the mountains. Some would say that they have been pushed into the mountains due to development aggression. The lands they previously occupied were taken over by those whose God is their money and whose law is their gun.
But there is a deeper reason why indigenous peoples live in the mountains. Since ancient times indigenous peoples believe that the mountains are the dwelling places of God whom their help comes from. Thus, the Psalmist says, “I look to the mountains; where will my help come from? My help will come from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).
Actually, God dwells not in places made by human hands: not in temples or cathedrals, not in churches or mosques. It would be the height of human arrogance if we claim that we could make a house for the God who made the heavens and the earth. God dwells in places made by God Himself: in the mountains, whether in Mt. Sinai or Mt. Zion, in Mt. Banahaw or in Mt. Kabunian, in Mt. Pinatubo or in Mt. Apo. God dwells in the mountains. Perhaps, this is what modern man and woman could not understand: when we destroy the mountains, we actually destroy God’s dwelling places.
The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo sometime ago was interpreted by the Aetas as God’s way of reminding us how much we have destroyed God’s dwelling places – the mountains.
Guardians of God’s dwelling places
Indigenous peoples are the guardians of God’s dwelling places. They live in the mountains where God dwells. To live in the mountains is to be close to God. By opposing the destruction of mountains due to development aggression, indigenous peoples are actually protecting not only their source of life, but also defending God’s dwelling places.
By opposing government policies and laws destructive of our environment, we are also participating in the protection of God’s dwelling places. This is a divine task we need to do in this Indigenous People’s Month and beyond. # nordis.net