Lessons of the Lenten season: emulate Jesus in the struggle for freedom

Christians for National Liberation - Southern Mindanao
31 March 2012

The Christians for National Liberation-National Democratic Front of Southern Mindanao exhorts the Filipino faithful to find true meaning in the Lenten Season by reflecting on the significance of the life and martyred death of Jesus as reminiscent in the present suffering of the Filipino people. The Communist Party of the Philippines is right in refusing to declare a Lenten truce with the US-Aquino regime -- a regime that has resurrected the fascist, merciless and oppressive Roman Empire of the olden slave times.

For the pain and suffering of the Jews from the hands of the greedy and oppressive Roman state is never been more present in the suffering of Filipinos from the caprice of oil cartel, indebtedness and tax burden of the US-Aquino regime. In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were the most hated sectors of the slave society. The US-Aquino regime is just as ruthless in ignoring the outrageous overpricing and increases in oil prices and basic commodities, in lifting the hated 12% Value-Added Tax, in giving in to the demands of peasants for land distribution, as in the case of the Hacienda Luisita peasants, and in acquiescing to the demands of workers for an increase in wages and relief from the rapacious imperialist globalization.

Any discerning Christian can see through the falsehood of the Aquino regime which has continued the war of suppression in the countryside, against civilians, and lowly peasants under the Oplan Bayanihan. The modern-day slavery of Filipino people is made more treacherous as the Aquino regime refuses to free the captives, the political detainees and shuns peace talks and the implementation of previous agreements borne out of the peace negotiations.

Indeed, the Lenten season should be an occasion to emulate the life of Jesus for he was the embodiment of righteousness, justice, and peace. Jesus' Messiaship was demonstrated through his deeds, his sacrifice, and his revolutionary resistance to the evils of the Roman Empire.

In his ministry, he spurned the false sacrifices peddled by the rich in the churches, condemned the temple tax and other mercenary schemes of the church to squeeze off from penniless faithful Jews. After his baptism, he went into fasting for 40 days, foreseeing his martyrdom. In his mission statement as written in Luke 4:18-19, he declared his commitment to the poor and taught the people to call for the total liberation, freedom from captivity, captivity from the fascist machinations of the Roman empire, enslavement from indebtedness, enslavement from domination of the Roman ruling class of slave masters. He proclaimed a Jubilee year, a Year of the Lord, where all slaves will be freed, where debts are to be written off, and a return of the mortgaged lands.

For his political beliefs and self-less ministry, Jesus was falsely charged with rebellion, tried in the face of the hypocritical mob of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, abandoned by a reactionary governor, detained, tortured, and murdered. His death was meant to silence the growing discontent and squash the growing clamor for change and liberation from the clutches of Roman imperialism.

The Holy Week is more than the commemoration of the Paschal mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, but a reliving of the struggles of Christ in opposing the greedy and oppressive schemes of those who are in power. It highlights the suffering of those who dared to raise the voice, combat the injustice and who devoted their lives in the self-less service of the people. Jesus’ death was a consequence of his fight in the struggle for justice and emancipation. To the faithful, to the disciples and apostles, he had said “those who wish to come after me must take up the cross and follow me.”

The killing of Jesus is reminiscent in the extra-judicial killing of the victims of Oplan Bayanihan like that of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio. Like Jesus, Fr. Tentorio, left the comforts of his home country, took up the cross, and carried the burden of the peasants and Lumads in Arakan. He was killed in the hands of a reactionary and fascist state intolerant of dissent and struggle. Exacting retribution for his martyrdom and the deaths of countless others remains a persistent echo in this Season of Lent in the hearts of the revolutionary forces and the masses. *