By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Many of those who have already died will live again: some will enjoy eternal life, and some will suffer eternal disgrace. The wise leaders will shine with all the brightness of the sky. And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever.” — Daniel 12:2-3
Rizal’s 150th Birthday
June 19, 2011 was Dr. Jose Rizal’s 150th birthday. People in various parts of the world had come together to remember and celebrate his heroic deeds. His two great novels – Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo – helped a lot in raising our people’s consciousness relative to the abuses and oppressive rule of the Spanish colonial government. He was accused, arrested, imprisoned, and executed for fomenting rebellion against the Spanish crown.
The meaning and significance of Rizal’s birth can be found in his life and death. Rizal is long remembered because of the life he lived and the death he died. If Rizal did not live and die for our country, then perhaps his birthday would not be celebrated as we do today, or even be remembered at all. According to the survey conducted by the Social Weather Station, about 75% of our population regard him as our national hero.
Of course, like anyone of us Rizal may have had his own weaknesses and limitations as a human being. However, his playboy attitude, for instance, and his love relationships with a great number of women are somehow overshadowed by his genuine love for country and his passion for freedom. There are those who even go to the extent of deifying him and worship him, like a god.
Resurrection in the Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel talks about the resurrection of those who died of fighting for freedom. This Apocalyptic Writing was written when the Israelites were under the oppressive rule of the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes. He issued a degree revoking the Law of Moses as the official law, ordering the burning of the Jewish Torah, and imposing the Hellenistic Law. He even built a pagan altar in front of the Temple, and placed inside the Temple the statue of the Greek god Zeus.
Consequently, a massive revolt erupted through the able leadership of Judas Maccabeus, one of the sons of a priest named Mattathias. The Greeks were driven out of Palestine, and the so-called Hasmonean Dynasty was established. The Israelites believed that those who died in their fight for freedom from Greek colonization will live again in the free nation that would be established. Of course, it was not physically, but spiritually. Their lives and sacrifices would be forever etched in the memory of freedom loving people. But those collaborators of the enemies would also be remembered in disgrace.
And so, the writer of the Book of Daniel says, “Many of those who have already died will live again: some will enjoy eternal life, and some will suffer eternal disgrace. The wise leaders will shine with all the brightness of the sky. And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
Quality means Longevity
Eternal life should be understood not only in terms of its longevity, but also in term of its quality. Eternal life is a life characterized by genuine freedom, peace, justice, joy, goodness, prosperity, and well-being. It captures the best and highest aspirations we have in life. This is the kind of life that lives forever. It is a life that goes beyond death.
One of the Ten Commandments says, “Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you” (cf. Ex. 20:12). Living a long time in our land is dependent upon being respectful to our mothers and fathers. Our quality of life determines our length of life. Similarly, we can also say this in terms of our country. Those who respect our motherland and fatherland, even to the point of giving their life like Rizal, may also live a long time in this land of our birth. # nordis.net