Truth and justice

I’m not the most religious person in the world. I’m honest enough to admit that. I haven’t even read the Bible in its entirety and I don’t know all the apostles. I just know enough to try and be as nice as possible to people and not cause anyone inconvenience or harm. I mean, you don’t have to be a devout Catholic to know that screwing with people is wrong.

But if there is one thing I like about being a Catholic, it’s going to mass and hearing a really good homily. I think that priests are similar to Literature professors. After all, the Bible is like a really complex piece of ancient literature that should not be taken in literally. And if there’s anyone who could shed light to the masses about what it means, it should be the priests.

As I said, the homily is my favorite part of a mass. I love the lessons. I love the deconstruction of a scripture down to the word, its implications and relevance to our lives today, and how it could shape us, if we allow it. For me, it’s not a matter of faith in the Catholic Church so much as really understanding what’s being said in the Bible and being guided by it to live a life with the fewest casualties possible.

But that’s the problem sometimes. There are times when I attend a mass (which is not often, I admit), and the priest just downright destroys my faith in my religion. If there is anything I can’t tolerate, it’s discrimination and arrogance. Arrogance that other religions are not at par at whatever it is we think we’re prevailing in. I just don’t understand that part—that sometimes it feels like a contest against other religions. Why? None of us will come out alive in life anyway. We’re all headed towards the same fate. We already know we’re all going to die. Why still make other people’s lives miserable along the way?

But anyway, the homily. I love priests who actually discuss the scripture and not merely tell people what it means (or what they think it means). I like it when after a mass, I leave wondering about what the priest said. I like it when people make me think (not a good thing with other, err, topics though). My favorite priest is still probably Father Mark Lesage. Back in college when my friends and I used to attend the novena masses leading up to the parish feast, Father Mark Lesage sometimes initiated the mass. Unfortunately, the last time I attended his mass was in 2007 (I know).

Despite the time that passed, there is a particular sermon he gave that I could not, and will probably never forget. Father Mark Lesage doesn’t speak Filipino fluently, but he is still understandable and it was delightful when he did. What he said was about truth and justice. He said that truth has now become a relative concept, and most people don’t put a lot of thought into it anymore, that it has become merely a word. But what gives life to truth is justice. His exact words were, “Ang katarungan ang nagbibigay buhay sa katotohanan. Ang katarungan ang mukha ng katotohanan.”

And I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said, even after I went home that night or the following days after. Up to now, actually. When I look back to what he said, sometimes I think maybe he meant that it doesn’t matter if you know the truth if you’re just going to keep it to yourself. Because it doesn’t give it justice. There is no justice to keeping mum when the right thing to do is to speak up and tell the truth. But then I think about the people who are too afraid to talk about the difficult things that happen in their lives. I don’t necessarily think that they are evading justice. I think it’s sad though, that we don’t have the luxury to always tell the truth even if we want to. And I wonder what would make it okay again to be honest to other people, especially to the ones we love.

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