By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“What you have done to the least of my brothers (and sisters) you have done it unto me” — Matthew 25:40
The Street as paradigm
The street is a paradigm of our country’s political life. A paradigm is a pattern or example. Some of the crucial and significant decisions affecting our country’s political life are done not in congress or in Malacañang; they are in fact decided in the parliament of the streets.
Martial Law, for instance, came to an end through the parliament of the streets. The two women presidents of our republic came into power through the parliament of the streets. It was in the streets, indeed, that people power had been decisively shown.
The streets are the places of people’s struggles for change. It is in the streets where people could voice out their sentiments and could shout to their hearts content their genuine opposition against all forms of evils in our society.
However, it is also in the streets where people experience political repression. It is in the streets where massacres, abductions, and political killings are committed. It is in the streets where crimes against lives and properties are done.
Moreover, the street is also a paradigm of our country’s economic life. Economic activities do happen in the streets. Common people earn their living in the streets. Poor people build their shanties along the streets. Beggars roam the streets begging for survival.
But then the street is also a paradigm of our Christian life. It is interesting to note that the street, the road, or the way, is used to describe what Christianity is all about. As a matter of fact, the early Christians were called Followers of the Way. They are regarded as pilgrims or sojourners on their way to their own Promised Land (cf. Heb. 12). Jesus Christ our Lord said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).
And Jesus taught his disciples that living the life of the Kingdom is like “walking in the narrow way” (cf. Mt. 7:13-14).
Sacred vs. Secular
One of the tragedies that modern people, like us, had done in this world is to divide realities into sacred and secular. The things that are sacred are of God and therefore it is holy, while the things that are secular are of the human, and therefore mundane and sinful. But the problem is that the things that we declare as secular are much, much bigger, much greater, and wider than the things that we declare as sacred. As if we are the ones that created the heavens and the earth.
For instance, in terms of space, we consider only the small altar inside the church as sacred, as if the outside world is no longer created by God. In terms of time, we designate only Sunday as a day for God; not even the whole day, sometimes only an hour on Sunday, as if the other days of the week are not for God anymore. In terms of resources, we set aside only the tithes or one tenth of our income as something for God, as if the ninety percent of our resources are not of God. Indeed, we have reduced the living God who made the heavens and the earth into a dead ritual or ceremony – someone whom we call upon only when we have baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
Apparently, we never consult God’s will and purpose anymore when we make big decisions that would affect our country’s life and future, like the hello Garci scandal, the Jueting payola, the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal, the Malacañang bribery scandal, political killings, abductions, and disappearances, and many others. Perhaps, we need to ask ourselves whether or not these decisions of the powers-that-be are in keeping with God’s will and purpose for life as reflected in the Scriptures.
Making the street an altar
The call for us today is to make the street an altar for the Lord. This is our urgent ecumenical task. The altar is a place of worship. It is there where we would encounter the reality of God. It is there where we would commune with God. It is there where we discern God’s will and purpose for our lives, for our country and people. It is in the altar that we offer unto God our sacrifices of thanksgiving. It is there where we make our commitment to our God.
To make the street an altar for the Lord would mean that we have to identify ourselves with the people in the streets – the masses of our people who are struggling for survival. Their sufferings and hopes, their struggles and aspirations should become our own. We must be able to see in them the face of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “What you have done to the least of my brothers (and sisters) you have done it unto me” (Mt. 25:40). This would now mean, therefore, that ecumenism is no other than our solidarity with the masses of our people in their sufferings and struggles.#