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The ‘Our Father’ of My Childhood
The Contexts of the Story
The Historical Context of the Our Father
My Historical Context
Blending Contexts in an On-going History
Companions on the Way
The Word ‘Debt/Indebted’ in the Our Father
Main Focus on Luke 11:4
Usual Interpretation of ‘Sin’ and ‘Debt’
Larger Than Sin
Indebtedness in Jesus’ Historical Setting
Where has the Jubilee Year Gone?
Rabbi Hillel’s Prosbul
The Significance of the Word ‘Debt’
The Jubilee Year in the Lk 4:16-30
More Than Sin-Orientation: The Kingdom of God
Breaking Fixed or Petrified Perspectives
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through Jesus’ Eyes
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through the Eyes of an Awakened, Poor Jew
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Larger Context of Luke’s Gospel
Lk 18: 18-27: a Commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father’.
Social Justice in the Larger Context of Luke-Acts
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Context of Acts 2 and 4
Re-reading Luke 11:4 in My Context
The Need for an Alternative Spirituality
Before We Part Ways: Time to Recharge and Refresh
As We Part
Bibliography
Footnotes
All Pages

Re-reading Luke 11:4 in My Context. After going through a long journey of recovering the significance of the word ‘debt/indebted’ in the ‘Our Father’ which, hopefully, has resulted in a clearer view of the prayer’s message on social justice, it is now high time to look at the present Philippine scenario. Compared to the situation in Jesus’ time, I believe that nothing is significantly different about the Philippines as regards poverty, oppression and injustice, and yes, even indebtedness. We now have different historical circumstances, of course, but the aura of the historical evil of social injustice has never left us as evidenced by the following data provided by the recently published New National Catechetical Directory for the Philippines (NNCDP):

#23. The Philippines is part of the “two-thirds world” (the group of poor people who comprise two-thirds of the world’s population). Around 39% of Filipinos have per capita incomes below the poverty threshold. Unemployment rates hovered around 9% to 11% over 1991-2000, with Metro Manila averaging 12% to 18%. This indicates the significant migration from provinces to key cities. Squatters account for about 30% of the country’s urban population.

Like the rest of the two-thirds world, the Philippines strives to attain stability and sustainable development. Its economic policies continue to strongly favor free enterprise, free trade, globalization, and foreign investments as major engines of growth. But the national growth in recent years has been clearly unbalanced and has failed to benefit the poor. While the GDP continues to grow, its positive impact has not trickled down to the lower socio-economic income groups.

Further, the 2005 Alay Kapwa Facilitator’s guide of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) claims that the Philippines is in crisis both economically and politically. From 1993 to 2003, we had an annual deficit amounting to PhP 150-200 billion. One cause of the crisis is debt servicing in which an estimated PhP 400-600 billion or 40% of the yearly national budget serves as payment for debts. Regarding this, it is very disgusting to know that some of the aforementioned debts have been onerous, that is, they went straight to the pockets of corrupt leaders or were simply wasted in white elephants like the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

We note the fact that the economic and political programs of the government have failed to benefit the poor. We recall that this failure is a sin of social injustice which Yahweh, Jesus and the prophets abhorred and condemned. It is the sin which we are reminded to repent of and be converted from each time we pray Luke’s ‘Our Father.’

It is very significant and pertinent to note also that one of the predicaments of Philippine society today is heavy indebtedness marked with the blood-stains of social injustice. While we generally claim that we, as a country, are heavily indebted, it is very sad to note that it is the poor majority who suffer while the rich and powerful (many of whom are leaders) continue to live luxuriously.

Regarding Philippine leadership, the NNCDP has the following to say:

#27. Despite the laudable efforts of many honest politicians and civil servants, the political situation is burdened by much graft and corruption, dishonest elections, and the dominance of partisan and self-centered interests over the common good.

The 2005 Alay Kapwa, basing from World Bank studies, claims that PhP 160-200 billion goes to corruption yearly.

The 2006 Alay Kapwa has the following to add:

Our system of governance, including its laws, social policies and programs, tend to promote mentalities of competition, corruption, commercialization, manipulation and possession…

(yet) we glorify…the crooks, hustlers, proud, conceits many of whom occupy key positions in government and private institutions.

The aforementioned remarks of the catechetical directory and Alay Kapwa cannot but remind us of the stern warning of Jesus to Jerusalem leaders and rich oppressors. Be that as it may, we have hopes in many Philippine leaders who are enlightened like Zacchaeus. But since the forces of those who perpetuate social injustice seem to overpower the good ones, the social justice message of the ‘Our Father’ should continue to ring loudly and persistently for Philippine leaders to listen to. Also, it should remind us to be empowered and move significantly for the uprooting of all forms of evil from our beloved Mother Land.

The last remark of Alay Kapwa is worth pondering upon. Instead of being prophets, many of us glorify the leadership that promotes social injustice. The Philippine Church, indeed, needs a significant degree of awakening and conversion. We cannot just be blind and mute about the truth. More so, we ought not to side with and glorify corrupt and oppressive leaders, whatever our personal reasons or affinities might be. Gone should be the days when religions had to provide protection and legitimization to power structures that enslaved the common people.



 
 


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