The new semester has started but instead of being fresh and raring to go, I am feeling extremely fatigued.
The reason is that I had had a short trip to Manila last week. When we landed, we were greeted by the periphery of a typhoon (which I believe to have become the terrific storm that hit Hong Kong). Although not very serious, it was rather significant to me, one who has not experienced a typhoon before.
I must confess that I left before completing spring cleaning and I reached home to a situation where there was much that still needed to be done. Needless to say, I have not recovered from my trip and the cleaning and packing tasks that I had given myself are facing increasing delays unless I buck up and start getting more rest and become more disciplined.
On to the main reflection. I saw so much potential in the Philippines when I visited Manila. Yet there are so many poor people. It is not that the economy is bad. From my observations, the culture is only Catholic and Christian in the cultic and ritual aspect. It would take an extremely courageous Christian to evangelise their culture. That individual would be called by God to be like Abraham: to abandon the familiar but problematic way of life that both rich and poor Filippinos are used to (see Gen 12:1); to take the risk to lose his own life but to gain the Kingdom for God (Mk 8:35-36). Would that individual would use up his riches to give the dignity of proper work to his less fortunate brothers and sisters? Could he make a break from unjust nepotism? Could he distance himself from irrational adherence to clannish and tribal ties? As a Catholic, would this person look at the people in his country as brothers and sisters, involving himself in God's righteousness rather than imperfect human justice?
Of course, we Singaporeans are far from perfect ourselves. Whenever someone asks for material help, I wonder if I have given the right thing. Could the Church in Singapore help by providing meaningful work rather than handouts? Would the Church in Singapore take the risk to do what was right in the eyes of God? It is definite easier to give in to popular opinions and call it justice. It is certainly easier to give an interpretation to the Word of God that everyone likes and attract lots of parishioners. However, we risk losing parishioners if we preach and live the truth (see Jn 6:60-66). I can see injustice about me, and, sometimes, in the Church but feel helpless because I am not sure if an immediate intervention would make the matter better or worse. It becomes more heart-wrenching when there is an abuse of authority and I cannot do anything about it. I myself have authority given to me from above. I can only pray that I am exercising this authority rightly in the eyes of God. I also pray that God may provide me the courage, wisdom and discernment to act in God's righteousness.