Saturday, July 30, 2011

Message of Joy and the RH Bill

It is sad to observe how the unfolding of the public discussions and formal debates of the RH Bill has degenerated into personal attacks, unprintable verbal assaults, and wanton mudslinging unheard-of in civilized society. Religious and cultural sensibilities have with abandon been disregarded and ignored, the fine things in life as painting, poetry, and music used to hurl disdainful attacks at the very core of the faith of Christians. A defence of the faith, a sort of an ‘apologia’, is in order.
Meantime, in the midst of all these negative incidents, a group of Catholic lay faithful came up with a rally of its own, the smile rally. It was meant to bring across Metro Manila the pro-life message, that is, to proclaim this message of life with a smile. Life after all brings with it joy, a message of hope, an assurance of continuity, a message of vitality. Smile is the faint response to that invitation to the call to accept life and to uphold it.
The pro-life group actually just echoes the stand made by the Catholic Church which with much confidence proclaims the Gospel of life no matter the objections of the RH Bill proponents. It is first of all based on the Church profession of faith in God as Creator. It is a belief that may not originally be its own, but inherited from the faith of the chosen people of God, the Israelites. It is the ground for its solid adherence to the respect and preservation of life. This credo immediately tells us who God is and who we are. The world is not a product of mere chance nor can it be reasonably explained by the big bang theory that proposes the existence of all things, living beings included, through mere evolutionary process. The reasonableness of faith in creation tells us that everything is ultimately dependent on the mind of God the Creator. He holds history and all peoples in His hands, the Creator of all things, the source of power, the God who provides. It is this faith in God the Creator that gives man the confidence that there is Someone who freely produced him out of sheer love. It also gives him the courage to face up life’s challenges and to take upon himself the great adventure of life, for God loves him first. Realization of the great truth that we come from God, that the universe is the product of his freedom, his knowledge, and his love, empowers man to relate with others with respect and poise, trust the other without inhibition, and love as human beings without fear what the future would bring. As Benedict the XVI aptly put it: “God is the Lord of all things because he is their Creator, and only therefore can we pray to him. For this means that freedom and love are not ineffectual ideas but rather that they are sustaining forces of reality” (Ratzinger, ‘In the Beginning,’ p. 18).
Faith in creation is reasonable. The argument that the existence of order, harmony, and beauty of the universe demands and calls for the existence of a creative Mind and Reason that causes the existence of the former may not be a conclusive one for modern thinkers due to some shortcomings, but creation is still a better alternative. As Benedict XVI argued that today, as in the time of Aristotle, the reasonableness of the universe provides us with access to God’s Reason: ‘God himself shines through the reasonableness of his creation’ and ‘in the Bible is and continues to be true enlightenment which has given the world to human reason and not to exploitation by human beings, because it opened reason to God’s truth and love’ (cf. Ibid., p. 17).
For those who believe in God’s intervention in the world, they may look into the creation story in the Book of Genesis. For Christians, however, the normative scriptural account is John’s Gospel that says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God... All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (1: 1,3). God is a Creator. Man is a creature.
The pro-life group in its campaign to spread out smile to all is actually proclaiming that profound reality of the Catholic Faith on life. Life comes from God; it has to be respected; it has to be celebrated; it has to be greeted with a smile.