PH when transformed by the power of mercy
A family inviting its domestic workers to its noche buena can draw praise. But if the small wages of the domestic workers are asked to be increased to the level needed to reasonably sustain a family of six and to rent a decent house fit for human beings and not just a hovel in a squatter area, expect a flurry of violent reactions, such as: Oh, no. That’s too much. I worked hard for what I have now. They did not study well and they did not practice family planning.
Social inequality exists when the powerless cannot demand to live as human beings. In many countries, household helpers receive a just share in the national wealth. But in the Philippines’ National Capital Region, one is obliged by law to pay domestic workers only P2,500 a month.
God’s mercy can open people’s eyes to the unchangeable truth that everything comes from the loving Father and that we are all brothers and sisters who have to take care of one another irrespective of color and social status. This is the basic teaching of Jesus. We own nothing in this world and we leave everything when we die. This truth can liberate hearts to prioritize the sick child of the domestic worker over one’s need for relaxation and vacation.
Pope Francis leads us to “experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things,” where “we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness.”
He asks us to enter the Holy Door of Mercy in this Jubilee Year (Dec. 8, 2015).
He reminds us that God’s mercy is “not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which He reveals His love as that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child.” In each of these “little ones,” Christ Himself is “visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled … to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us.” (No. 6 and 15 of “Misericordiae Vultus”)
For Pope Francis, mercy and justice are two dimensions of the same reality.
The Dumagat experience God when they divide their catch equally with every family in their tribe, including those who did not participate in the hunt. The wild pig is a gift of God to be shared.
On God’s Holy Mountain, Isaiah prophesies: “The calf and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to guide them” (Ch. 11). Here the impossible becomes possible. The Church leaders’ commitment to pay their catechists a family wage moves parishioners to conversion. Hence, rather than beautifying churches, they first ensure that the poor who are “living temples” of God get enough food. Mary, who predicted that “the poor will be filled,” is happy that she no longer receives the yearly gilded robe.
A paradigm shift unfolds.
More and more Church leaders dare to preach beyond words even if it means lower collections at Mass. They transform people to be as courageous as Heneral Luna in implementing the words of Pope Francis in Malacañang: “Reform the social structures that perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor.” Doubting Thomases now believe that there is power in the word “mercy” because Jesus lived it, and was killed for it, but his Spirit continues to be born in so many people who are trailblazing the transformation of our society.
Political leaders internalizing their experience of passing through the Holy Door of Mercy return Hacienda Luisita to the farmers. The military does not intrude into the ancestral domain of the lumad for the benefit of miners. The Department of Labor and Employment defends the right of the workers to unionize. Legislators pass the proposed freedom of information and antidynasty laws. There is now a new law that guarantees the basic human rights of the urban poor to life and to shelter near their work.
The law on contractualization, which literally grabs food from the mouths of the poor, is abolished. Aling Linda, the 60-year-old street sweeper on Agham Road, now receives a decent family wage instead of P75 a day for four hours of work. Judges, drawing strength from the Ultimate Judge, immediately set the innocents free, like the two Dumagat mothers, as soon as powerful people clap them in jail using all kinds of tricks.
The pathways and toilets used by ordinary people are as clean as those used by tourists in Makati. The police and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board apprehend trip-cutting jeepneys that prey on hapless commuters. Against the will of the World Bank, which has been using our foreign debt as strategic leverage, most of the funds of the conditional cash transfer program are now allocated to provide farmers with irrigation, tools, seeds and fertilizer to secure the food supply of Filipinos.
The Philippines finally shakes off foreign interference, and we now produce our own steel from our own vast mineral resources. Because of that, overseas Filipino workers are coming home to enjoy quality life with their families. Politicians, together with high government officials, reduce their fat salaries to upgrade the salaries of lowly government employees.
As it happened in 1986 with People Power, Filipinos, transformed by the mercy of God, become witnesses of a better world order because they are united and vigilant to fight corruption, to care for the poor and to protect Mother Earth.
Fr. Pete Montallana is the coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples’ Apostolate of the Diocese of Infanta, and chair of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. and of Sikap-Laya Inc., which advocates for the welfare of the urban poor.
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