Balik-Tanaw | In defense of life’s sanctity

http s:// The Angry Jesus byFilipino artist Lina Pontebon

Youth of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25

The season of Lent invites us to commemorate Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. In this holy season, we are called to reflect on Christ, who was beaten by Roman soldiers, humiliated, stripped naked, wounded, hung on a cross, and suffered until death.

Prior to the cross, we must be reminded that Jesus journeyed with the people. Jesus healed the sick, exorcised demons, ate with sinners and tax collectors, communed with outcasts, and fed large crowds of people. All these were done as part of Jesus’ ministry, not only to Jews but also to Gentiles. Though these deeds were good news for the people, particularly those on the margins, they were bad news for those in power.

In today’s Gospel from John (2:13–25), we see Jesus express anger and outrage over the desecration of God’s temple. He chased away the merchants with a whip, and overcome with emotion, overturned tables. Jesus spoke truth to power by declaring that God’s temple must be freed from exploitation and commercialization. Isn’t it true that instead of being a church serving the people, we have become like business entities? The very reason that hinders us from serving the poor, the vulnerable, and those who are in need of compassion and solidarity.

Today’s religious leaders would remind us that churches, cathedrals, parishes, and chapels we use for worship should be treated with respect and sanctity. The vessels and furniture we use must be set apart and used only for sacred purposes, and that is appropriate. So, we are offended when church sanctuaries are desecrated or when the prayers we utter and hymns we sing are misspoken or misused. But how about the desecration of life in our society? Human life, like all other forms of life, is holy. How about injustice and oppression, which disrespects the sanctity of life?

The extrajudicial killings in our country, reminds us of Jesus, who was falsely accused, charged with fabricated crimes, executed, and hung on the cross in humiliation. As Christ’s disciples, how have we responded on the unjust and inhumane treatment against those who are victimized by state violence? What about their families, who seek justice in the midst of their grief?

If we consider human beings to be God’s holy temple, are we not outraged by the crimes committed against the people of Gaza? Thousands of people, primarily children and women, are bombed even while inside hospitals or places of refuge and worship. Israel’s genocide against Palestine is ruthless and immoral.

The words of Rev. Munther Isaac – a pastor from the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine – would challenge us: “When churches justify a genocide or are silently watching from a distance, making carefully crafted balanced statements, the credibility of the gospel is at stake.” Indeed, our credibility as Christ’s followers is at stake because we have been apathetic to the cries and struggles of the aggrieved.

Have we expressed indignation when our nation’s leaders sell our land to foreign investors? Our resources are being sold at the cost of the environment and the safety of many especially in times of calamity. Indigenous peoples are unjustly driven out of their ancestral lands to favor a few. Development aggression that would never do anything good, prevents generations to come from enjoying the beauty and richness of the environment. We must be reminded of the importance of ecological balance that provides food and shelter to all.

As the country is in the grip of sociopolitical turmoil, are we not bothered when officials have dishonored their mandate by spreading lies and deception via social and mainstream media. What steps the community of believers can take with the so-called “people’s initiative,” which is actually “politicians’ initiative” aimed to extend their hold to power through Charter Change?

The message of this Sunday’s Gospel urges us to defend the dignity of human life and creation; in everything that God has created with all might, power, and wisdom. Though difficult to carry out, as followers of Christ, we are encouraged to open our eyes, listen carefully, and speak up fearlessly against the powers that desecrate life.

Let us seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our prophetic witness, speaking truth to power in a nation and world plagued with misinformation and deception. May we have the courage of Jesus Christ, who acted passionately against the desecration of God’s Holy Temple by using the whip and overturning the structures and powers that violate life.

May we continue to walk with God, pray, and seek the strength to speak up and express our anger and outrage in defense of the sanctity of God’s gift of life. Siya Nawa! Hinaut pa! (

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing, reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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