Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

By Apolinario Villalobos

In the Old Testament, it says that despite Moses’ plea, the king of Edom refused passage to the band of Israelites through Kadesh in the course of their wandering in the desert (Numbers, Chapter 20). History is repeating itself, as lately, some European countries refuse passage to refugees/immigrants on their way to countries that are willing to give them refuge. Some parties are even questioning their status whether refugees or immigrants. Will that matter, especially, as lives are at stake? The two mentioned cases are just classic example of man’s inhumanity to man today!

No question about it…greed is the root cause of all the inhumanities that have taken place in the days of the old and still are happening on earth at this very moment. Such desire is what can be found beyond the line of satisfaction. Survival should have been enough to spell satisfaction, but the hideous side of man most often brings out greed which is oftentimes masked with compassion.

When Spain embarked on a spree of colonization, in which the Philippines was not spared, she brought forth “religion” as the reason – to spread Christianity, in particular, Catholicism. As soon as the cross was firmly planted, the sword followed. In the course of their “spiritual effort”, centuries-old cultures of natives have been replaced with Catholicism which even during that time was already facing insurmountable questions that resulted to schism or division. Opposing natives who refused to give in were systematically eradicated in the name of “God”, when what the missionaries presented to the natives were also paganistic rituals, only using statues with different faces.

When the Americans took over the stranglehold of the Philippines, the same fervor of masked compassion was shown, but this time, democracy was used followed by evangelization of Protestant missionaries. The “assimilation” had a high price as what happened during the time of the Spaniards – death to the defiant natives.

Practically, the whole face of the planet is not only pockmarked with inhumanity, but is practically, denuded by its many forms foremost of which are exploitation and corruption. It has come to a point that survival of the fittest has become the norm of life again, despite his having been “civilized”.

In the African continent, the prevailing force, ISIS, are razing down archaeological landmarks that have been painstakingly preserved as manifestations of man’s intellectual superiority. Villages of the weak suffer the same fate as human occupants and fragile homes are devastated without mercy. Refugees who trek over mountains or brave the ocean squalls are refused passage to friendly countries. And, in Asia, greed of a once dormant country, China, has systematically jumbled the once tranquil setting with its garrulous territorial claims.

For all these injustices, who will pass the judgment? On earth, the man-made United Nations seems helpless and inutile. Man is then, left with nothing else, but the Ultimate Judge whose verdict may, yet to come…

Appreciating the Bible and Other Books

Appreciating the Bible

And Other Books

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The first religious book I had was given to me as a prize for beating the rest of the contestants who were my senior in an extemporaneous writing contest in English. I was in first year high school and the book was the freshly circulated “Imitations of Christ”, which today is one of the best sellers. I just kept it, forgetting even the name of the author.  A friend borrowed it and decided to keep it for good. Then, a lay minister whom we fondly called, “papa Joe” gave me a King James Version Bible which he fondly marked with a dedication. It occupies a space together with the Koran, two other versions of the Bible, Apokalipses of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a book about mankind’s search for God.

 

When a friend saw my collection, he asked what I will do with them. Despite the silliness of the question, I told him that I need to know what I am supposed to know. He used to be a staunch Roman Catholic but when he joined the Masonic Temple, he seemed to have drifted away and sounded different. I told him that for me, all books contain information that everyone must learn, especially, those “special” ones that discourse on religion, cult, God, church, Christian movement, Marian devotion, archaeology, astronomy,etc. I could have told him more, but noticed his irritation. So I closed my statement with the short, “knowledge is power” with a tone of jest. I just did not want to embarrass him with a remark that he is the only “Mason” I know who does not believe in God. I pitied him for his choice to be ignorant.

 

Had not my curiosity made me interested in religious books, I may not have known that:

 

-the eldest son of Abraham was Ismael, and whose mother was Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah;

-in the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to always have a trowel as a household

tool so that they can use it to dig the ground when they move their bowel;

-in the Old Testament, one of the Lord’s instruction was not for the wife to join in a fight in which her husband figured, and most especially, not for her to grab the testicles of her husband’s foe as her effort to help her husband;

-in the New Testament, it says how Jesus lost his temper and cursed a fig that did not bear fruits that he could have eaten that day;

-in the New Testament, it says that the chosen people of God were also partaking of dried fish as a staple food;

-the legend of the flood was universal, meaning, practically, every race has a knowledge about it, but with their own different version;

-the “Mother and Child” devotion is not limited among the Catholics but also prevalent in other religions and cults;

-there is also universality in the belief about end of the world.

 

Those are just a few of what I have gained from browsing the pages of the books which others abhor because doing so would mean that they already “believe” in God or rather, develop in them an attachment to a religion, a church or worse, God. I cannot understand such attitude, because, how can you hate something that you do not understand well enough?

 

Going through the pages of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which is the basis of other religious books is like browsing through the pages of National Geographic. Its historicity interspersed with “legends” made it some sort of a mini-library. I have the same interest when browsing through the pages of other similar books. There is a popular allegation that getting seriously immersed in these books would result to confusion and eventually, alienation from God. It did not happen to me. In fact, it developed in me more respect for others who are so dedicated to their own kind of evangelism to the point of fanaticism. 

 

In the Philippines, despite the deeply- rooted Catholicism among the majority of the Filipinos, there is enough space left for ecumenism that is why, in every activity of the national government wherein there is a need for invocations, different religious sectors are represented. This atmosphere is a great consolation among Filipinos who have diversified culture, yet united in their view as a race about the universality of God.

The Homing Pigeons and Wayward Souls

The Homing Pigeons and Wayward Souls

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ever noticed the heart that seems pasted on the beak of the pigeons? If not yet, try to scrutinize one if you are lucky to come closer. The pigeons are such loyal birds and the only one of its kind marked with the symbol of love. In the Old Testament, it is among the accepted sacrificial offerings of the Jews to the Lord. Lately, there is a craze involving these birds in which, entry pigeons are released by their owners from far off provinces and the fastest to find their way back are declared as winners.

 

This ability of the pigeons to trace their way back home may no longer be considered as just an instinct but a developed desire due to strong attachment to their owners, some of whom claim that their pets even persist despite bad weather. If released for some miles of flying from home, the birds sort of follow a built- in time indicator because they definitely are back just before dark. There may be temptations that can be seen from up in the air such as baits offered by home-based poachers, as well as, other flocks that call. But in the end, it is always the strong desire to fly home that prevails. Sometimes, though, the weaker ones give in to the temptations.

 

If only the wayward man can be like the pigeon that persists in coming home despite obstacles along the way of its flight, the world may no longer resonate with the sound of anguish and regret. Opportunities are given to man to make up for committed misdeeds and trace his footsteps back to the Lord, but there is vehemence in his refusal. Those who try, almost made it but instead of pushing their way on, they fall again and turn back to their old ways.

 

The different religions have their own instruments of atonement, from penances to scheduled seasons of penitence. But, after the so-called “show”, their flocks are back to the fold of the evil ways. Some say that only death can stop man from tracing his steps back to his sinful ways. Yes, it is true, and unfortunately for some, death stalls them before they can even amend their ways so that they can properly present themselves at the pearly gate.

 

 

Francis and Jesus

Francis and Jesus
By Apolinario Villalobos

There is no better choice to head the Vatican of today than Francis in view of his radical effort in reforming the papacy. His refusal to live in the posh papal quarters more than symbolized his humility. In his simple ways, he sheds off the royal trapping that for him sets the pope apart from the people. His actions are always with implied reminder that in the eyes of God, everybody is equal. His stubbornness to project simplicity irritates some Roman Catholics, but for the rest, he is Jesus personified.

During the time of Jesus, the community he lived in was also beset with hypocrites who regard themselves as authorities on the Jewish traditions and the proper worship of God. This kind of “faithfuls” are still very much around, cloaked in different colorful uniforms of religiosities to distinguish them from the “sinners” . That is why, just like Jesus who practically resorted to almost any way possible to carry out his mission, Francis today, even mingle with the people in the Vatican’s square and “invaded” the social media to be able to reach out to those who decided to join other flocks, in an effort to bring them back to the fold of Universal faith.

Francis and Jesus did not promise anything with monetary value. Both just showed their real selves and dwell on the doable expectations of God from us. Just like Jesus who was pestered by his detractors who patiently waited for his missteps, Francis is being watched keenly not by those belonging to other denominations, but by Roman Catholics themselves who abhor reform. Criticisms about Francis are already coming out in the social media.

Those who belong to this generation should feel lucky for witnessing a radical religious reformation, the tableau being completed by different assemblages of fanatics who profess to be the real messiah. Aside from proving the truth in the adage, “history repeats itself”, those who read the Bible will also realize that the prophesy about the coming of false prophets is already happening.

A Lingering Question About Jesus

A  Lingering   Question  About Jesus

By   Apolinario  Villalobos

 

My  favorite  pages  of  the  Bible  are  those  about  the  Old  Testament  because  of  their  historical  content.    I  also  like  the  New  Testament  which  tackle  values ,  development  of  Christianity,  Jesus  and  His  works.  It’s  about  love  of  God,  love  of  fellowmen,  faith  in  God,  etc.,  that  need  to be  practiced,  an  expectation  that  unfortunately,  failed,  somehow.

 

There  is  just  one  question  about  Jesus  that  has been bugging  me – his genetic  lineage.  According to  prophesy,the  Messiah  shall   come   from  the  House   of  David.  Josephis only a  “foster”  father  of  Jesus.  So,  though,  Joseph  belonged  to  the  House   of   David,  Jesus,  genetically  does  not.   Jesus  was   broughtinto  the  world  through  virgin  birth,  that of  Mary.  But  Mary  does  not belong  to  the  House   of   David.  In  other  words,  Jesus  does  not  belong  to  the  House  of  David.   To  simplify  the explanation,  the  Vatican just   emphasized  the  whole  thing  as  a  miracle,  and  that,  Joseph  is  presented  as  the    “father”  of  Jesus,  to  complete  the  picture  of  the  Holy   Family.  For  the faithful,  no  question  should  be  asked  when  miracle  is  used  as an  explanation. 

 

In  the  first  place,  there  could  have  been  no  question  if   the  writer  of  the  particular   chapter  in the  Bible  dealing   on  the  prophesy   about   the   messiah,  just  espoused  the  miracle  of   the  virgin  birth   and  understated     his    coming  from  the  house  of  David.  The  faithful  I   suppose  are  willing  to accept  it   just  like  the rest   of   the  miracles.  It   seems  something   is  lacking  in  the  way  the  prophesy  has  been  written.   The  prophet  who   announced  the  coming  of  the messiah  should  know  about  it,  because  the message   came  from  the  all- knowing  God,  or  there  should  have  been  some  kind  of  a  “by   the  way”  about  the  messiah’s  adoption  by  a  foster  father.   In  my  simple   mind,  perhaps,  the  writer    mentioned   the  “House   of  David”  to  inject   an   image  of  royalty   to   the  messiah,  though,  born  in  a  manger  to  portrait  humility.  Such  an  implied  intention,  if  ever,  is  a  deceptive  ploy  of  the  writer  which  drained  down  to  the  Vatican  which  is  now  submerged  in  a thick  muck  of  controversies.