Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Punished With AIDS?

ABS-CBN been showing news reports and even did series of stories on HIV/AIDS for almost a week now. The message is this : the number of Aids patients in the Philippines is increasing at an alarming rate. Since the newly appointed Secretary of Health Esperanza Cabral went public with the recent information on said virus, as expected, media sensationalized it. I was horrified not because a was in a high risk situation but because when a news or a social concern is sensationalized such this,- chances are, our attention to such issue would not last long. Long enough to encourage authorities to push for better or alternative prevention programs.

By the way, in the late 80s, there was a rumor that the first ever Filipino to have admitted to have contacted with Aids but later have given face to the disease, previously came to San Jose as sex worker and some of our politicians became her clients. But the truth behind this rumor is not established. It's just a whole damn lie. I mean, about the lady working here in San Jose, but not the truth that some of our politicians frequently visit our red light districts or the place in Brgy. Pag-Asa commonly called as “Gitna”. “Then”, I should have added.

The recent the news on TV reminds me of an elderly churchgoer who once remarked, “That (Aids) is God’s punishment!” Such remark is to say that there is a causal connection between the sickness and the sinful sexual act. But that is not so. I mean, the cause-effect model, because there are individuals with Aids who did nothing sexual to acquire it. Like hemophiliacs and small children. Our thinking that Aids is God’s punishment is contrary to the gospel’s image of God and the message of joy.

True, in Jesus’ time, sickness and suffering were seen as God’s punishment but Jesus unmasked this kind of notion by saying : "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (Jn. 9:3). And remember, His resurrection crumpled down, like deck of cards, the so-called cause-effect relationship between suffering and God’s punishment. The suffering of Jesus is in no way His Father’s punishment.

In the biblical times, the “responsibility to inform” is being advocated, similar to what public figures advocate today with respect to Aids. Leprosy in Jesus time is what Aids is today. If leprosy was suspected, a person went to the priest and seven days later a judgment was given. Such illness resulted in economic isolation, neglect and despair. Luckily, Aids is not as detectable as leprosy if we only use our naked eye. The Gospels, by the way, tell us that the Son of Man associated with lepers. And what would Jesus would say to Filipino Christians today? This is just a wild guess : “If you are informed that someone from your community has Aids,- go to his apartment, play, chat and dine with him or her and be his/her friend and neighbor.”

I was not able to explain this to that old woman : “Aids is a natural occurrence and not God’s punishment.” Not only Aids. Every human suffering confronts us with the question of the meaning of our existence and presents us with an opportunity for self-examination. And consequently we will realize that all God’s commandments are meant for joy and liberation.

Yes, including the sixth commandment…

(Photo from www.unaids.org)

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