Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hypocrisy and the Likes of Us

In the news a couple of weeks ago, incoming president Duterte spoke against the leaders of the Catholic Church, calling them hypocrites and 'sons of a whore'. He even declared that he's more influential than the bishops because no matter how they campaigned against him, the people just ignored the warnings and voted for him overwhelmingly. Is it a sign of people's silent protest against the Institution?

Many had lauded Duterte for his bold (most of the time, brazen) stance to go up against the Church. Opinions had been written in all media agreeing to his viewpoint. People seem to unite against the hypocrisy of these so-called religious leaders.  But this is really nothing new. The Bible recorded a lot of instances of hypocrisy. Prophets, upon God's instructions, spoke against leaders, even at the face of death. Jesus himself spoke against the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his time.  Yet the Bible also reminded us not to fall to the same pretensions.

There are people who are quick to equate religiosity with hypocrisy.  I can't really blame them.  They must have experienced hurts or condemnation by religious people once close to them. I also pity those leaders who are earnest and true to their calling. Are the CBCP leaders really hypocrites?  Or maybe they just happen to be on the unpopular side of the issue.  Being judgmental is as bad as hypocrisy.

To those of us who claim to be Christians, let us be discerning and not quick to judge.  I know of some people who grew up in Christian churches, who are now religious rebels.  First, they rebel against their own parents and relatives accusing them of hypocrisy. When you listen to the parents, they say they were just correcting an aberrant behavior. When we expect love begetting love, it does not always happen.  Second, they rebel against their religious leaders.  They are quick to listen to gossips and remember only the bad sides of the story.  So when they talk about hypocrisy, they have tons of information about leaders who have fallen.  Third, they will deny that they are rebelling against God. But their actions speaks otherwise.  And when you talk about how good God is, they just give you a condescending look.

There is really this temptation when you go by the tide of public opinion. Who has fully obeyed the ten commandments? Are we actually listening to sermons when we go to church, or just waiting for words tingling our ears?  Or maybe we just sit there at the back for the sake of attendance and then look at the Priests or Pastors with suspecting eyes. At the back of our heads we ask, "How many girlfriends does he have? How many boys has he exploited? How much does he earn by using religion?"

Shouldn't we look beyond the messenger and focus on the message?  Perhaps in these days, moral uprightness is no longer a criteria we look for a political leader, and hypocrisy only applies to the religious. It is a very unfortunate sign of the times!

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