GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

Magis! This means More! There is so much more that we and the rest of the world can do to be genuine, loving followers of the Risen Christ. After the historical Ascencion, His followers formed a community and followed what Christ missioned them to be and do. Allow me to quote from today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need” (Acts 4:32-35). This is more like living the religious vow of poverty.

But let me clarify what it means for our lay Christians of today. It means living a lifestyle of stewardship, simplicity, and sharing. First and foremost, we are not the creators and owners of our own lives. We are stewards of God, who created each one of us with our respective and unique qualities and gifts. We are missioned to live a simple lifestyle, not an extravagant one, so that we can share our time, talents, and treasures with those who have less. The rich and middle-class reaching out to the poor. Indeed, there may be a number all over the world who live this way. But the great majority of the world’s population live by the global capitalistic system, which is predominantly materialistic, egoistic, and Godless in practice, if not in belief.

A 2017 international study came out with the horrendous reality that one percent of the world’s population control 82 percent of the wealth generated globally! We need no less than a global revolution. In faith, I believe that it will come in God’s own time. It may take many decades, but I believe it will come.  For this to happen, we will need numerous political, socio-economic, and religious leaders who will do what needs to be done for God’s love and justice to be fulfilled.

Our own President Duterte, in his Holy Week message, said: “Let us take a moment to pause in the spirit of contemplation and work and unite as one people to build a truly equitable and inclusive nation where everyone can enjoy a decent comfortable life.”

Pope Francis wrote a whole encyclical letter, Laudato Si, precisely on our human lives all over the world as a “universal fraternity.” Civic and political love, he calls it. “Thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism. These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story which can be remembered and handed on. In this way, the world, and the quality of life of the poorest, are cared for, with a sense of solidarity which is at the same time aware that we live in a common home which God has entrusted to us. These community actions, when they express self-giving love, can also become intense spiritual experiences” (Laudato Si, p. 147).

Jesus as God the Son came to be one among us, to show us the way to God’s love for humanity. But more and more political and economic leaders today are living in the opposite direction of God’s ways. Jesus could have been born in a royal palace, and could have been crowned as a king, surrounded by worldly power and possessions. But His simple lifestyle and His compassionate reaching out to one and all, especially the poor and underprivileged, is indeed most meaningful and inspiring. Moreover, during the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His apostles. This was unheard of. You can just imagine how dirty the apostles’ feet were. But Jesus was precisely teaching them what loving service is for those whom they will lead to God and God’s ways. “If I, therefore, the master and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn.13:14-15).

Allow me to repeat what I have expressed in this column years ago. I am convinced more than ever that laissez-faire capitalism and economic globalization are not the answer. The effects of SELFISM are too obvious to miss.

I strongly believe that as a long-range national vision and mission – in progressive and determined steps – Democratic Socialism is the answer. This is what I call a revolution from above. Like the socialist system in Scandinavian countries, which if translated in spiritual terms is what the Catholic Social Doctrine is all about. Its core, human value is the common good, based on the principle of solidarity.

“The individual is by his nature ordered to society and this in turn, to him. Briefly, this means mutual involvement. Every single individual is a member – at least as long as he is a member – inextricably involved in its destiny; and the society can in turn not loose itself from its involvement with its members; the normative aspect follows: every individual shares in the responsibility for the success or failure of the community; this in turn bears responsibility for all its members (‘each for all, all for each’)” (Sacramentum Mundi, Vol. Five, p. 110).

Socialism is the system of governance and socio-economics that will ultimately bridge the gap between our small-community rich and the great majority of our Filipino poor. This is the road to justice and peace. For the whole world, in fact.

Yes. Peace. No less than three times, the Risen Lord Jesus said to His disciples in today’s Gospel reading: “Peace be with you.” And He follows this with: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This also means you and me. The Risen Lord is sending all His disciples all over the world, to preach, love, serve, and die as He did. If we follow what He is missioning us to do, who then is afraid to die? No one. Absolutely no one! Amen.

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