Keep the faith
During the Mass held to show support for Vice President Leni Robredo on the first day of the vote recount in relation to the electoral protest filed by losing candidate Bongbong Marcos, the homilist Fr. Ted Gonzales, SJ, paid homage to women who, like the veep, keep the faith and keep up the good fight.
That Easter Monday, Father Gonzales recalled the women in the biblical account of the events after Christ died on the Cross. It was women who stayed by the Cross while most of the male apostles fled in fear and cowered in their hiding places. But the women remained with Christ’s body, helping clean the remains and wrapping it in burial cloths before being interred inside a cave.
Thus, it was women, visiting the cave three days later to look after Christ’s remains, who found the cave empty save for the wrapping cloths lying abandoned on the cave floor. And when the women — who were considered mere followers in the Gospel accounts in keeping with Jewish tradition that assigned women to subservient roles — found the assembled apostles and told them of what they saw, the men at first refused to believe them until they went to the cave and confirmed the women’s story.
So it is, too, that a woman is pushing back and sharing the good news of faith and trust and justice in this world.
“Do not be afraid,” Robredo assured the audience at the Mass held at the chapel of St. Scholastica’s College.
Echoing the homily message about the women who stayed by Christ’s side despite the threats in the air and were the first to share the good news of salvation, Robredo reminded everyone, specifically “our supporters and our friends who are here today, the same message our lawyers want to convey” that “we have nothing to fear. Have no fear for we are fighting for the truth.”
True, she added, “there are many reasons to fear.” But she reminded everyone at the Mass to have faith. “Keep on doing what you have been doing. Do not let your resolve be weakened. There are many limitations, but given how small the world is, we are needed. We have to keep on going to continue giving light.” This is important, she added, “because if we will give up, the world will be darker, and so many people are looking up to us, for us to fight for them. Let us keep on going.”
Certainly, there are many reasons to doubt the outcome of this electoral contest. This is so especially because the Vice President’s opponent does not only have deep pockets and a large number of followers, he also enjoys the support of President Duterte, who has said many times that he considers Bongbong’s father, the late dictator, his “idol.”
So, would anyone be surprised if the President and his minions, including perhaps some justices sitting on the electoral tribunal, were to be revealed to be pulling strings behind the scenes and manipulating the results?
We have just come from a season of intense prayer and even mortification. We gave up eating meat on Fridays and holy days, gave up even simple pleasures as a form of atonement, visited churches, followed the Way of the Cross, and sat through homilies in stultifying churches at the height of summer.
Perhaps all these were just in preparation for another season of penitence, during which our fondest dreams for our democracy and way of life will be challenged and brought into question.
In the light of all those preaching realpolitik, counting the numbers ranged against the cause, citing previous instances of the dawning of a new age of repression and abuse, perhaps all people can truly do, as the Vice President says, is to keep the faith and pray for a turn for the better.
After all, the campaign of vilification, the harsh propaganda war targeting her, began even before the 2016 elections, when Robredo surfaced as the LP’s candidate for vice president. So, a more intense, more hurtful, meaner artillery war is only to be expected. But against these battalions on social media and the world of politics, is ranged the simple, humble power of prayer and faith. The Easter story should tell us how such a lopsided battle turned out.
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