By Joey Natividad
Humility. Generosity. Compassion for the poor. To love your neighbors as you love God. Forgiveness of sins and how you forgive those who mock at you.
This was the essence of Jesus of Nazareth dying on the cross. He was nailed and crucified by the same people whom he promised to lead in salvation.
This week of Lent, “haves” and “haves not” join hands in observing the suffering and passion of Jesus the Christ. He was the Son of God, his teachings and virtues worthy to emulate, to guide people for deliverance from sinful lives for saintly living. Good Friday and the Resurrection symbolize death and rebirth, the old self and the newly reformed soul.
From this sacrifice, Christianity has grown, and still growing. Catholics today number about 1.2 billion souls and still growing. But, the numbers game end here.
Yearly, the rich and poor observe Lent. But, how many understand the meaning of the passion of Christ? Very few.
After the solemnity in observing Lent, the wealthy or the “haves” go back to their hedonistic ways, pleasure above all else – forgetting that some poor souls (“have nots”), their neighbors, are suffering in hunger. Their Christian virtues stop after Lent.
How many poor people were denied opportunities on the reason that they are poor? How many have been driven out from the haven of the rich on reason they are not properly clothed?
Our Filipino society has an ingrown social caste system that even sociologist refused to acknowledge.
The “haves” enjoy more privilege than the “have-nots”. Are not the rich enclaves in Metro-Manila heavily protected from encroachment by denizens coming from the urban-poor ghettos? Observe the rich’s “kasambahays” are trained to talk to their pet dogs in English while having a stroll at the park. Their uniforms speak loudly of their domestic maids role, a feudal bond of “master-slave” relationship.
The aristocratic anti-poor discrimination hypocrisy inherent among the country’s elite is so prevailing in any societal activities, from the work place to social events. Even charitable work, the “haves” feel self-fulfillment of doling out 3-kilos of rice to a hungry family for a day consumption during relief operations, and they talk before TV cameras as if they have been feeding the poor since childbirth. Are these acts of true Christians? No.
A public servant once said that if the rich are so wealthy, they do not have the license to mock at, nor trample upon the dignity of a poor person.
This Lent is the right time to cast away the aristocratic anti-poor discrimination attitude that is so prevalent among the country’s affluent society and most middle-class families. These unchristian traits contribute on why there is a worsening gap between the rich and poor, and the brewing social unrest in the countryside.