‘Called to serve with selfless love’
This is the title of the missal distributed in all Catholic Churches yesterday which caught my attention as we joined the faithful in the observance of World Mission Sunday.
Described in the missal as “a day devoted to prayer and generous solidarity in favor of our brave brothers and sisters who are preaching the Gospel and witnessing to Christ’s love in foreign missions,” it is a fitting reminder not only of the work and sacrifices of the missionaries but of all the faithful as they go about their daily lives. That is, if they remain true to their faith and themselves.
As well it could serve as a reminder of what our people must expect from those who just filed to contest positions of leadership from senators to the lowliest municipal councilor in next year’s elections. Indeed, as the nation comes to grip with the developments in the first three years of the Duterte presidency, there is even greater need to remind voters to be more discerning and learn the lessons well from decades of participation in regular elections.
More so at this time of flux as the nation grapples with, among others, high oil and commodity prices, the ongoing trade wars among the world’s economic powers, the continuing war on drugs, credit tightening and pressures, local and overseas, on investments and employment. But the big question remains: Can we still expect unalloyed service from our officials?
I should think so. We must endeavor to work for it by choosing our leaders well.
As the missal said, there must be a way to bring the call for selfless love and service at the forefront of the discussions as we prepare for the 2019 polls. Even as almost everybody has resigned to the harsh realities of our elections as a flawed, money- and intimidation-driven one, there must be a way to exact service from those offering to do so.
The missal’s advisory is instructive: “...They are doing this in response to a special call from the Lord. In their apostolic labor they have become the ‘servants of all,” especially of those who are poor, sick or neglected in whatever way.
That is why their mission is not only to preach the Gospel but also to make it come alive through hospitals, schools and other forms of help to development. Quite true.
So as we go about our daily grind and await the elections next year, we should sk Comelec to do a kind of cleansing within its ranks. Not only in terms of shuffling personnel, for example, but in the rules and guidelines to be used in next year’s elections. Will Smartmatic remain our technology provider? If so, what are the main provisions of its contract? Who will be its sub-contractors for all the work it is expected to provide? Are we already going to put in place all the security features of the automated election system? Who takes charge of what in the entire process?
Then, as part of its cleansing operations, not only should it make available all information about the rules, guidelines and parties involved in conducting the polls in 2019. It should publish details of the parties and candidates contesting in the 2019 polls: From personal details to programs of government. This early, it should reach out to the private sector, NGOs and yes, faith-based organizations, to assist in collating and disseminating information about the candidates and their platforms.
There are more suggestions which have been coming our way regarding how the 2019 elections be conducted and how we can make use of it as the take off point to finally have our elections, our candidates, their backers and their parties break away from the discredited ways and practices of the past.
In this regard, even as the Constitution ordains the separation of church and state, it will be wise for the Comelec and other parties of goodwill to urge all churches of all faiths to come around and have their considerable moral compasses to bear on next year’s polls. Not just by prayers though that should be de rigueur. But in practical and realistic terms without violating the separation clauses in the basic law.
For in the end, it is our faith in the Almighty, of a Greater Being who guides the destinies of men and nations which, in my view, will make the difference.
As newly resigned US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley said in her speech in New York at the 73rd Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation fund-raising for the Catholic missions: “Just about everywhere I have been on humanitarian missions, I come across the Church doing incredible work that lifts up millions of desperate people. It is serving God’s will. There are real problems yes but we must not lose sight of the miracles that are performed every day. Those miracles are the way of the Church.”
To be sure, not just of the Catholic Church, but of all faiths whose only mission is to serve God and humanity selflessly.