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ROUGH CUTS: A joke more serious than funny

LAS Sunday we heard mass only on television. The mass emanated from a chapel at the Divine Word Seminary in Quezon City and was celebrated by a priest who, we believe, was in his middle 40s.

The celebrant was expounding on the day’s Gospel which was about the parable of the two sons. In the Gospel Jesus was talking to the chief priests and the elders. He told them there was a man who had two sons. The man ordered his first son to go to the vineyard and work there. The first son told his father that he will not go. But he changed his mind and went to the vineyard instead.

The man then ordered his second son to go to the vineyard and work there. The second son answered his father that he would go, but he did not.

Then Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders which of the two sons did his father’s will? All of them answered, “The first.” Jesus affirmed their answer and admonished them that the tax collectors and those who practiced the oldest profession – prostitutes – can enter the Kingdom of God even ahead of the chief priests and the elders.

Jesus pointed out that when John “came to you in the way of righteousness you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even as you saw the tax collectors and the prostitutes had a change of heart from what they heard of John, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Even as we were mesmerized at the seriousness of his delivery of the Gospel’s explanation, the priest suddenly cracked a joke about the tax collectors. His joke was not as funny as it was serious as to its meaning and relevance to the times.

The priest’s joke was simple. He used three popular words with similarly sounding last syllables. The three words were meant to summarize the work of present-day tax collectors. The words? “Debit, credit… and kupit.”

We were astounded not much of the hilarity but by the thought that the tax collectors, like the prostitutes, are biblically-acknowledged sinners but are themselves accepted as faces of the repenting children of God.

But wait, we are now starting to entertain the idea that this message of the Gospel is being literally interpreted by the tax collectors and the prostitutes. That is probably why corruption and prostitution, even as these had preceded and outlived Christ, are not likely to vanish from the earth.

After all, the corrupt tax collectors and the prostitutes might have thought that when the right time comes, that is, when they have already amassed huge amount of “kupit” money or “service” income (for the prostitutes), all they need to do is remember that lesson in the bible – make the change to get them their redemption.

Indeed we are really wondering aloud if at all, this is the reason why no administration so far, has succeeded in stamping out corruption and prostitution in our midst. The tax collectors – they who are the faces of corruption — might be holding on to that biblical assurance for their salvation.

Perhaps their only fear is if death comes first before they could make their change.

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In the Philippines the latest figures about the CoViD 19 pandemic are, according to health authorities and experts, showing the declining rate of infection on a day to day basis. The same report also indicates that the number of recoveries is fast closing in on the total number of cases reported even as the patients declared as on “active status” are also getting smaller.
Nevertheless, critics of the administration, mostly politicians aspiring for higher positions come next election, or those who claim they are “more experts” than those currently serving in the government’s battle against the pandemic, have continued to belittle the efforts of the government.

We have, however, observed that most of the critics’ comments and observations are actually betraying their being far from the ground. Classic examples are the observations by Vice President Leni Robredo. She’s been mouthing that the government does not have concrete plans for the country’s economic recovery as well as providing affected businessmen the means to operate again after the pandemic. Yet, she had been ambivalent in her own pronouncements. In early August she appealed to the administration to reconsider implementation of lockdowns and easing of quarantine status to give opportunities to people to return to work. Then this September the VP warned the administration that it should listen to medical experts who are saying that easing of restrictions in health protocols could lead to the even massive resurgence of the deadly virus.

If indeed the Vice President has all the best solutions for the present health crisis and its negative impact to the country’s economy, would it not be better for her and the Filipino people if she humbles herself and offer to work with the administration without any iota of desire to use her collaboration for her own political motives?

Yes, why can’t she not, for the cause of the 107 million Filipinos now cowering in fear of the Corona Virus Disease pandemic, forget that she belongs solely to the opposition but instead acknowledge that she is one of the suffering Filipinos? Or, is she?
Would not such humility be more endearing to the people than keeping busy working with her team in the opposition to derail the efforts of the present administration? Should the VP first and foremost be Filipino first before she is in opposition?Indeed the problem with our politicians is that right after every election and when they are out of power, or aspiring for higher positions, they forget about the people and only think of how they could come back to their positions, or move to another level. And what better way to make their names remain in the consciousness of the people but by keeping incessant criticisms – rightly or wrongly – on current administration programs and policies.

And when they succeed in their comeback drive, those ousted will be the next breed of critics raring to get back at their former detractors. This process had long been institutionalized in our political system that it has become a vicious cycle.

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