My faith. My religion.

December marks the month long celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It heralds the most wonderful time of the year – Christmas.

They say that we should never mix religion and politics. There is, after all, a separation between the state and the church.

A week ago during the sermon after the Gospel, Father Mel our parish priest had a scathing remark about “leaders” who malign the church and the ilk who clap and laugh at the tirades and “jokes” on God. 

When was God ever a joke? It is not funny that you come to church and yet when your God and your faith is maligned in front of other people, you clap and laugh. Why? What has God ever done to you to deserve this? Your religion is already being insulted and you clap and laugh when these leaders spew so much hate, discontent and fake news during gatherings.

You could hear a pin drop in church that day.  Even my mom looked my way and said that it’s really a sad time having to fight with evil and false news.  

My Catholic faith is solid.  There is no bargaining when it comes to my faith. While we were all raised differently, not even politics will justify my having to renounce my faith in my religion. My faith and religion is what keeps me grounded in humility, gratitude and forgiveness. It has made me celebrate with God the bounties of life. It has helped me carry my crosses during the worst days.

It is ironic that when we are sick or we have problems difficult to bear, we turn to our faith and religion. We make novenas, join pilgrimages and ask our friends to pray for our journeys through chemotherapy or various illnesses and offer masses – yet laugh and clap when our religion is maligned, insulted, and politicized. We give shout outs on social media to the Lord with posts on how religious we and our family are, yet toast and cheer the person who literally instigates hate and spills vile language at our religion. I don’t get the fact that when God needs us as his defense, we’re not even there for Him.  What kind of a people are we?

We go to church, we pray and receive communion, yet we cower in fear at Duterte who tells us to “build our own chapel to pray and stop going to church.” Maybe he is right.  If you can’t be who and what you are for your faith and your religion, don’t go to church.  Don’t give alms.  Stay at home and just build your own chapel.  Don’t get married in church. Don’t have your children baptized. Don’t send your children to Catholic schools. Hypocrites!

I am not what the politicians and trolls would call “dilawan”. Even when PNoy was president, I never liked his lack of empathy. He wasn’t a genius. He never achieved anything as a congressman. He was just lucky his mother Cory passed away before the election. His victory was mostly out of sympathy from the masses. He lacked affect and charisma. In what he lacked, he just happened to have more intelligent people surround him when he ran the government. But I doubt there was no corruption under his watch. They were probably less obvious. After all, decades of institutional corruption cannot be wiped out in six years. Even with lack of empathy. I knew how to pray and make the sign of the cross and understand my religion ahead of politics. When I could understand the impact of politics in my life, Marcos was President. For the past decades of my life, this country has always been at odds with the church in some of its policies and exchanged barbs with beliefs and practices. But to my recollection, there has never been a president that has cursed my faith. My religion. After all, there are some lines we do not cross. Some beliefs we just simply respect.

Why are we in a situation where we are asked to “choose” between our faith or our leader? On social media, I cannot fathom how people have turned their backs against God and the church. At how money and power has become the bait to turn away from our faith.

To me, choosing who I would side with is easy. That thin line that leaders cross is called faith.  My religion.

May the Christmas season allow everyone to reflect on how much God showers us with His unending grace and love. We will always need God. Sometimes during times of plenty, we forget about God. Yet even in the worst of times He is always there for us.

No president has ever loved us unconditionally.

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