On one of my pilgrimages, I had a conversation with our tour guide about the different people and different cultures that she handles. She said that every year they would have a convention of tour guides and when they are asked which group they loved to handle the most, the response would unanimously be Filipinos. She said that they are warm, joyful and more flexible in accepting changes. They are amazed also that we have the happiest per capita when it comes to picture taking.
A fairly recent ad that CNN aired about the Philippines had a slogan that is very catchy and true: “When you are with Filipinos, you are with family.”
Certainly, being a Catholic country for almost 500 years had a great influence in who we are as a people and what we are as a nation. In fact, St. John Paul II said that we Filipinos have a special role in evangelization, not only in Asia, but in the whole world. Due to economics, the Filipino goes around the world for employment, and as a bonus the Catholic faith is also brought along.
Yet, we know that in our country there is still so much to be done.
- First, we are Catholic country yet we are known to be corrupt
- Second, we are said to be a very rich country, both in natural resources and human resources, yet we have a 50% poverty rate
- Third, we claim to love life but how many abortions are done in this country every year?
In the Gospel, Jesus said that love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand. It cannot be one or the other.
While we are no doubt a God-fearing nation and we have an immense love for Mother Mary, may we show our love for our neighbor in three ways:
- Be part of the solution and not the problem. According to studies, one of the reasons for poverty is due to corruption. Yes, we can point out all the corrupt people and the corrupt practices but hopefully, it does not end there. We remember the saying , “All that needs for evil to prevail is for the good people to keep quiet.” We are reminded to love and serve God alone. Jesus once said that in this life we cannot love God and money.
- Do whatever we can to help others, especially the less fortunate. When the Lord blesses us, it is not just for us alone, but also because we have roles to play in society. Besides, one of the nicest feelings in this world is knowing that you have made a difference in other people’s lives. Further, Jesus condemns those who take advantage of others.
- Remember this is spiritual warfare. Recently the exorcists in Mexico gathered to “exorcise the country.” Although Mexico is the second largest Catholic country, it is a country with problems like corruption, drugs and unequal distribution of wealth. In this world, we must remember that there is the seen and the unseen.
May we continue to pray for our country and promise to be a good citizens to show how much we love the people around us.