Thursday, June 3, 2010

Breakfast, Revolution and Jesus

I was invited by Mr. Dominciano "Par Doms" Bagatsolon and Hector Aragones to attend a Breakfast Meeting and the Brotherhood Christian Life Program (BCLP) at the Sikatuna Beach Hotel in San Jose last Saturday,- May 29, 2010. The BCLP is an initial formation series given to prospective members of the Brotherhood Christian Businessmen and Professionals or BCBP whose mission is to be “committed to living out Christian values and being change agents in the marketplace…through a process of on-going personal conversion, a commitment to professional excellence, community and nation-building, practice of justice and integrity and responsible care…”

Before his talk, our guest speaker told us that having been into the BCLP, we, the participants, are advised to pray for spiritual guidance and make every session a “happy event”. And he emphasized two main things : “Be an empty vessel” and “Be your self.”

Our speaker is a former seminarian and a 19-year BCBP veteran, a well-traveled and experienced executive from a globally-known business establishment. Our main man from Cavite rendered the topic : “Who is Jesus” and made mention about the impact of Jesus on man’s salvific history and many more. I learned new insights from him and he is brilliant in almost all aspects of public speaking. He delivered his lecture nice and clean, except for his failure to broaden a certain term,- that to me, has a larger meaning thus needs further reflection and elaboration.

I have no problem when he,- during his talk, said that Jesus is the only person ever pre-announced, whose coming split history; the only person whose reason for coming is to die, the one who is no ordinary “good man”; and so on. But he said that one of the misconceptions about Jesus is his being a socio-political revolutionary. With due respect to our speaker, defining a “revolutionary” as the one who fights the government, a militant, a rebel or an insurgent; the one causing, bringing and favoring violent changes,- is a short-sighted if not one-sided definition of the word. Pardon me again but I am just trying to be honest with my self. For me, a revolutionary is the one with dynamic vision, an active participant for social transformation, the one who aspire for a complete change through entirely different cause. Through peaceful or other means. The one who is in no way indiffrent in thoughts and in deeds.

Jesus was an initiator of active non-violent struggle during his time. In fact, he even “revolutionized” that old concept of “revolution”. He taught us that revolutions need to be bloodless and a sacrifice (or doing something sacred)like our very own EDSA revolt. With my definition of the word “revolutionary”, I firmly believe that,- contrary to our speaker’s view, Jesus is also a socio-political revolutionary during his time. And let us remember, Jesus clearly died or was killed on political ground(s) because the powers,- both civil and religious, feared him, his teachings, his values and influence. Also, during his time, crucifixion was the punishment for political activities specially rebellion.

Some say that Jesus was killed because he disappointed people’s hopes of a political-military messiah. Maybe. But based from all appearances, it was his conflictive or revolutionary activity which paved the way towards Calvary. This what I’ve learned from the book that changed many of my perspectives in life. A book written by the late Filipino liberation theologian named Fr. Carlos H. Abesamis entitled “Third Look At Jesus”. I am sorry for not being an “empty vessel” or tabula rasa this time.

I do not have formal study on Christology but I think it is almost impossible to examine Jesus objectively. Our perception of Jesus has a lot to do with our own hidden agenda, our political stance whether we are activists or reactionaries or otherwise. Even the corrupt and greedy politicians in our midst have their own perception of Jesus in accordance with their subjective views and vested interests. Myself included. But we all agree, regardless of our political affiliation and beliefs, that the dominant model for the Christian is that of the mission and the actual experience of Jesus himself in the world.

Jesus, no doubt, was a disturber of the status quo of every person and every community or society. He is a question mark by his words and lifestyle of the existing religious, social and political order of his time and ours, in almost every aspect. In sum, a true Christian has a sense of political responsibility and obligation to responsibly participate in the election processes, be fully and reliably informed concerning political issues. He/she has the responsibility to criticize the government,- its policies and its agents, in the light of the gospel and Law of God including to support just and humane policies and to oppose those policies and particular decisions which are unjust or inhumane.

So, whenever we are having a bountiful breakfast (lunch, dinner or brunch) let us always remember that not only food can also be part of our spiritual salvation but food is a life-and-death issue in a world,- the Philippines and the other impoverished Third World countries, where millions of children, men and women are malnourished and hungry while in the Holy Eucharist, we believe that Christ is present under the appearances of foods like bread and wine.

This reminded me of the controversial Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, author of “The Eucharist and Human Liberation” when he said that in Third World countries “the central act of Christian liberation is the celebration of the political act of liberation by God”. For Balasuriya, every repetition of the Eucharist should signify a new commitment to the struggle for justice. He said that many of us tamed the Eucharist, distorting its revolutionary implications into a time for re-affirming the status quo. There are people indeed like Balasuriya who believe that the true celebration of the Eucharist is an act of revolutionary politics. People that are moved by love of God and of neighbor.

By the way, next Saturday, our BCLP topic is about Spirituality after having of course our breakfast on that same table…

(Photo from Reuters)

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