Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Freedom Day

Irecently received the following e-mail from a friend which he sent during "Araw ng Kalayaan" or Day of Freedom in the Philippines. I think his is a timely message we really need to ponder:
I have been turning over in my head the past few weeks the scandal of “jueteng-gate” that has befallen our once again beleaguered nation. I almost decided that I would finally write again and express what was in my heart the same way I did in EDSA II when we, the students of U.P. Law, spoke out against Mr. Estrada. Almost.

I read a chapter on the life of Daniel (of the Bible) through Brother Andrew’s book, “A Time for Heroes”. And what he wrote floored me. “Even in the darkest hour, God will not forget a people as long as there is even one person who qualifies in the sight of God to be a hero of the faith, who can claim his nation back for God.”

After reading the scroll of Jeremiah, Daniel said, “I prayed to the Lord and made confession.” (Daniel 9:4) Brother Andrew continues, “In this mighty prayer of confession, he worshipped God, the great and awesome God who keeps covenants and is steadfast in loving kindness for those who love him and keep his commands.”

“Then Daniel admitted the condition of his people, confessing their sin – not just a few little mistakes, but “…we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from thy commandments and ordinances; we have not listened to thy servants…” (
Dn 9:5,6) In all this Daniel identified with the people, yet when we study the life of Daniel it appeared he is just about the only person (other than Jesus) of whom nothing negative is mentioned anywhere in Scripture. He was a mighty warrior for God, but he got on his knees in sackcloth and ashes, humbling himself to identify with his people.”

“After confessing the sin and praising the Lord, Daniel said, ‘O my God, incline thy ear and hear;… for we do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, give heed and act; delay not, for thy own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name. (Dn. 9:18-19)”

Finally, I almost wept after reading Daniel 9:7 where it was written that the people were covered with shame because they were scattered in far away lands brought about by their unfaithfulness to God and His commands. I thought of my own grandparents and other relatives; I thought of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who left for foreign lands – some to be abused, some even killed – because our own land could not adequately provide for their families.

Our beloved
Philippines is about to celebrate Independence Day once again. But instead of celebrating or protesting – depending on one’s politics or lack of it – I propose a different act of patriotism. The following passage about a different Biblical character will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:3-10)

I am suggesting that we put our money where our mouth is. I challenge all Filipinos who love our country to begin a forty day fast for our beleaguered nation beginning June 12 up to July 23. Skip just one meal a day – or even
merienda – and spend the time instead to pray for our country. Your church or organization or family can take turns even. But please pray and fast. It’s useless if we just fast as it’ll just be a diet gimmick. We have to pray. To ask forgiveness and ask for help. That is all.

I issue this challenge because the solution is no longer political. The battle is spiritual. And we Filipinos have to bring our country – but first ourselves – before the throne of heaven and of grace once again. Then genuine change will come.

Joshua Jerome Q. Santiago