In a noon mass, Father JV Ilano, parish priest of the Baguio Cathedral, turned away parishioners who were for the Reproductive Health Bill. He was quoted in saying, “If there is anyone in the Mass here who are pro-RH bill… please, go out. It’s useless.”
Today is Black Saturday, where the Christian faithful commemorates the day when the Body of Christ was laid in the tomb. For many of us, it is a day to reflect on the suffering and passion of Christ on Good Friday, where he was crucified for doing things that, even by today’s standards, remain revolutionary. In His time, Jesus was the leader of a group of radicals that taught things that ran against the grain of convention: to love your enemy, to turn away from sin. He was first in a very revolutionary belief that He bore the message of God.
I ask, does a statement like turning parishioners away from Church for things they do not believe in follow in the same radical, revolutionary ways of Christ?
By no means am I an obedient, faithful Christian, but for all our differences in opinion I think we would all agree that it is not the way of Jesus to turn people away from a place of worship: even if their views run contrary to human, fallible doctrine invoked in the name of God. “What would Jesus do?” is not a question of doctrine, but a question of faith; that Christians should take to heart not what is preached in the pulpit or the altar, but faith deep in the heart to know and follow the revolutionary ways of Jesus.
Where it has become almost a requirement towards heavenly indulgence to put tithes in the collection plate, Jesus turned over the tables in the temple where indulgences are sold. Where it becomes all too common to invoke canons of the Vatican and the various interpretations of verses of the Bible, Jesus – at a very young age – taught the scribes at the Temple the way of God for man. The King of the Jews, in an act we commemorate every Holy Week, was scourged and crucified like a common criminal for teachings we now take for granted.
And while some of us put so much value in the miracles of Cana and the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus taught a great lesson by way of example. In His ministry, Jesus had tax collectors, lepers, the poor, the downtrodden, prostitutes, kings, and paupers. Not one of them, I believe, deliberately turned away from the markets and public squares Jesus taught in. Jesus talked and preached not on doctrine but on faith; He did not turn away the multitude when all He had on hand was five loaves of bread and two fish.
This is not to chastise the priesthood – after all, I’m just another one of those wayward souls that would probably rot in the depths of Hell for believing that the RH bill should be passed. Yet for all the introspection that Black Saturday provides, even that quick laundry list of the teachings of Christ should be a reminder for all of us of the revolutionary way of Jesus. For the priesthood, at the very least: that we do not turn away the faithful from Mass for whatever uselessness and futility there is in arguing for or against RH.
The Man on the cross died for our sins, something deemed impossible for mortal souls. If all of the sins He died for are useless, beyond faith and beyond salvation, then there wouldn’t be any meaning and truth for faith at all.