People of little faith, even after 500 years of Christianity

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - April 18, 2021 - 12:00am

We have just celebrated the landmark historical blessings given by God to our country and people. Of the more than 100 countries in the east, from the eastern boundaries of Israel to the Pacific Rim, the Philippines was gifted alone, with the blessing of Christianity, half a millennium ago, a grace not granted to all the other nine ASEAN countries. And still, we have failed to deepen our faith in God, and our people are still gripped in overwhelming fear, bewildered, confused and cowering in a crisis of unbelief in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In today's gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 24, verses 35 to 48, the apostles were still debating among themselves about their experience on the road to Emmaus. Many of them were still unbelieving, and their faith has not been made strong, despite the fact that they walked with Jesus for three years, prior to the Lord's passion, death, and resurrection. They ate with the Lord, they talked with him and they were together in many events and actual face-to-face encounters. The Philippines had been Christianized for 500 years already. Our faith has not yet deepened in the face of the COVID crisis. We are just like the apostles, still doubting, still unsure, still restless, still unbelieving. It was only Thomas who experienced a crisis of faith. Actually, almost all of them, with the single exception of John the beloved, were at a point of asking themselves whether the master was indeed the messiah. Today, we are experiencing that crisis.

We are a people of little faith because we are so overcome with fear, with too many doubts, with obvious lack of trust that at the end of this all, there will be a redemption from COVID. Many of us are so terrified with the reality of death and are on the verge of believing that God is abandoning us, and that there is no salvation from the scourge of this viral pandemic. Many of our countrymen are expressing their fear by being so critical of others, blaming everyone else except ourselves, trying to relieve the heaviness in their hearts by putting the burden of guilt on the others. In this kind of situation, the evil one has become victorious because fear is the bad seed that Satan is planting in the hearts of Christians. When fear replaces faith among us that is the best evidence that we have surrendered ourselves to the devil, and that we have turned away from God.

Indeed, we have been tested and we are found wanting. We do not have faith even as small as a mustard seed. We are full of anger, full of resentment, full of spite and hatred. We find fault in the government, in our public officials, in public figures and all others except our own selves. We blame others for many things and we never quilted down and contemplated on our own imperfections and excesses. We are quick to cast the stones of criticisms and complaints against everybody. We have never accepted that we, too, are part of this social sin. These are evidence that we are lacking in faith, we are still far from being ready to face our creator in his second coming. We have forgotten to be grateful for all the blessings that we have received. We are focusing on the things that we do not have, instead of thanking the Lord for the many blessings we have been gifted with.

I have seen naked children in Africa, singing their praises to God. I have seen half-clad nomads and gypsies in the jungles of South America and in the Pacific, and they are so full of joy, dancing and singing, unmindful of all the burdens of COVID and poverty. I have seen rural folks in Tibet, who are not even Christians and yet, so full of faith and hopes. I have seen monks in Bangkok and in Myanmar and Laos who do not know where their next meal will come from. They have never been Christianized, but I have seen the faith of Christ in their eyes. And I am deeply inspired to believe.

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