Weekly Reflections: Vicarious death
By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“He was arrested amd sentenced and led off to die, and no one cared about his fate. He was put to death for the sins of our people.” — Isiah 53:8
Many have reacted when Catholic bishops regarded the deaths of soldiers in Mindanao as senseless, and that the President should put a stop to the war offensives going on. Well, in what way are the deaths senseless? Did they not die for the sake of our country? Soldiers are supposed to be there to defend our country from external aggression, but in reality they are there fighting against what they call “terrorists” who are also Filipinos like themselves.
Moreover, their officers are also saying that they are there for a “test” mission after a special training. And their lives, indeed, have been tested upon! But far deeper than that, they are also there to implement a government policy of all-out war against those who are perceived to be enemies of the state. Thus, apparently they died not for the sake of our country, but rather for the sake of an administration that is war-like and has very little regard for human life.
The only way the soldiers’ death becomes meaningful is if and when the administration listens to the cries of their widows to stop the war and start addressing the problems of poverty, injustice, corruption and underdevelopment which are at the roots of unrest and rebelliousness in Muslim Mindanao.
While mourning the senseless deaths of our promising young soldiers, we also remember the heroic death of Ninoy. Actually, August 21 reminds us not only the assassination of Ninoy, but also the Plaza Miranda bombing. Both are demonic images of tyranny. Both are attempts to silence truth and the bearers of truth. Whoever perpetrated these treacherous acts did not realize the fact that heroic death is not the end but a beginning of a new life.
Ninoy’s death is heroic because it awakened a people who had been complacent and indifferent. His death inspired a mass movement that led to the downfall of a well-entrenched dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in our country. And to paraphrase the Book of Hebrews, though Ninoy is dead, he still speaks to us (Heb.11: 4), especially at this point in time when we seem to be under a state of undeclared Martial Law.
Meaning of death
Martin Luther King Jr. said onetime that a person who does not know the thing he would die for is not fit to live. The meaning of our death is found in the life that we live.
When Jesus was crucified by the powers-that-be, the disciples did not understand what it meant, until they came across the Suffering Servant Songs in the Book of Isaiah. A portion of the Song says, “He was arrested and sentenced and led off to die, and no one cared about his fate. He was put to death for the sins of our people.” (Is. 53:8). The disciples began to understand that Jesus’ death was the consequence of the life he lived. If Jesus did not heal the sick, forgive the sinners, feed the hungry, denounce the hypocrites, and proclaim good news to the poor, perhaps he was not crucified.
A life of genuine and faithful service to people and to God may lead us to death. But it is a vicarious death. It is a death that brings salvation to people. It is a death that gives new life. #