Catholic Church

[OPINION] The passion of the dissident

Christian Laurenze Lauron
[OPINION] The passion of the dissident

Illustration by Janina Malinis

'Dear Jesus, nine people were killed walking your path a few weeks ago, on the day of the Sabbath itself'

Instead of complying with my academic and org responsibilities, instead I am here writing about Christ’s place in our national situation. I am constantly surprised by the insights I encounter, and am doubly surprised by how little they are given a place to grow in our hearts and minds. As I am unable to proceed any further in my daily (dys)functioning unless I put those thoughts into a piece, perhaps this Holy Week may grant me shelter from the wrath of whoever seeks my updates on pending stuff. 

Dear Heavenly Father, the Philippines just celebrated its 500th anniversary of Christianity. Naturally, I kept hearing from my fellow brothers and sisters over the phone and the radio that it is such a privilege to be touched by your abundant grace, as shown by our place as a predominantly Christian Asian country. 

However, I am not ignorant of the fact that the people who brought you to our ancestors did horrendous things in your name. They used your name and glory to move us away from our land and into their poblacion, subjecting us to the rules of these constructed spaces. Not to mention that violence against man, woman, and child were done “in good faith,” most probably using their state-sponsored power to discipline. I suppose this horrendous track record is what makes me appreciate my Protestant elementary alma mater, as Protestants would present themselves as followers of Jesus Christ and not this arbitrary system of oppression that exists within Catholicism.

Dear Father, is it such a good thing to know your name? If by any chance this Christianity would have made me a kinder person, why does it always seem to come at the expense of our ability to see the tragedy we Filipinos are in? As a senior high school student from the ever-reviled and ever-aspired for national university, my mother probably believes that I have strayed from your Word once I stopped solely speaking to you and started interrogating you. 

Why must I come to you and ask for a reason for the continuation of intense lockdown restrictions? Every time I am told to trust in you that this will all end, a dozen more evils strike us from an unseen corner. Don’t they just reference you in order to give their words the appearance of a truth that transcends the power of this state and the field of political contestation? 

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We hope that you can tell us if we are still using your name “in good faith.”

Dear Jesus, your life is something that constantly inspires both my elementary and high school selves. Your Gospel shows us a story of a humble man challenging a state bound by an outdated set of religious morals. 

MATTHEW 5: 17-18. Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Though reluctant, governor Pontius Pilate gave in to the elders and sentenced you to death. Despite your good will, these elders saw you as a threat to their power and made sure to instill fear among the masses and convince them of the dangerous character of your heart through a public execution. This much suffering — the unique character of the human condition — would make us lose our own faith, so we wouldn’t blame you for doubting God for a moment, thus breaking the Holy Trinity, in a sense.

MATTHEW 27:46. Eli, eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)

Dear Jesus, nine people were killed walking your path a few weeks ago, on the day of the Sabbath itself. Like you, they defended the poor and the needy in the spirit of a humane society as enshrined in our Constitution. However, they were killed, added to other bodies that had also been murdered, to prove to us that whatever these dissidents were espousing did not make the Philippines “secure.”

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Eli, eli, lama sabachthani? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez phrased my concern better.

“It’s very difficult to sit here and listen to arguments in the long history of this country of using scripture and weaponizing and abusing scripture to justify bigotry…and sometimes, especially in [the United States Congress], I feel as though if Christ himself walked through these doors and said what he said thousands of years ago — that we should love our neighbor and our enemy, that we should welcome the stranger, fight for the least of us, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven — he would be maligned as a radical and rejected from these doors.”

Dear Jesus, we don’t know what we’re doing. Many people were killed under the pretext of holding a dangerous ideology, failing to see that we ourselves can never be innocent from holding an equally dangerous ideology, especially when it tears our families apart either by overseas work or by the drug war.

Instead of mounting a proper challenge to the already-stagnating line of thought this administration considers a terrorist ideology, they instead resort to hitting us below the belt with argumentation unproductive to the discourse. I have witnessed the result as I shockingly heard from a fellow high school student that the deaths of those nine people were somewhat justifiable, as it was unfair of those killed to complain to the government when they were supported through the SAP and her family wasn’t.

The essence of your Gospel, as the most accessible moral material to reflect on, has failed to inform us of the moral character of our leadership. My other religious friends have resorted to clinging onto you for strength, looking at you and only you, failing to see that the rooster has crowed too many times. I pray to you that your Word be fulfilled in the fullest sense.

I finish writing, but I am still not finished completely uttering this prayer. –

Christian Laurenze Lauron volunteers for the ASEAN Youth Advocates Network and the Institute for Nationalist Studies. He is a Grade 12 STEM student studying at UP High School Cebu.