Lungkot at Hapis ni San Jose: Karahasan

The third sorrow of Saint Joseph is his responsibility to bring the child for his circumcision rites. The circumcision of Jesus. Circumcision draws blood. One drop of blood by the Son of God is enough to save the world from sin. But He did not remain content with just one drop of blood from the circumcision of this jewish child. Instead, He spilled, He poured over all of His blood for the sins of the world, for the forgiveness of everyone, for the healing of the world. But the blood continues to spill. The blood spills for no reason, no value. The blood spills by reason of violence.

I recall during the time of EDSA 1986. I was then a newly ordained priest for a few months. While the people rallying in EDSA were being threatened by helicopters, tanks, soldiers carrying firearms and heavy artillery, what advice did Cardinal Sin give to his advisors and companions in his house? You know what he did? He called for all sisters to expose the Blessed Sacrament and to pray on their knees and if they can, to pray lying prostrate. We ourselves prayed inside the Chapel. To my mind, we were hearing the helicopters hovering above the roof of our house. People were screaming in terror of the tanks on the way to EDSA and here we were – on our knees, praying. Was this the answer? Was this the solution to the threat of violence?

2000 years ago, there was also chaos in this world. But how did our Lord respond? An infant child was born in a manger, with no capacity to fight. But in the miracles of all miracles. In the mystery of all mysteries. In the wonder of all wonders. That tiny infant…in innocence, in holiness, in gentleness brought peace to the world.

That was the same case in EDSA 1986. We did not fight bullets with bullets. We did not fight expletives with expletives. We did not fight tanks with tanks. Instead, we faced the battle through prayer, on our knees, beseeching God. And we were victorious.

My dear brothers and sisters, the world continues to be threatened by violence, by terror. How are we solving it?

We tend to solve violence with greater violence. We face violence and in the name of self-defense, we offer a higher form of violence in order to overcome that violence. We add to the violence. We increase the violence in order for the violent person to be defeated. This has been in our culture all along. Even as a small child, Popeye taught me the same principle. There were Popeye and Brutus. Brutus bullies Popeye, bullies Olive. Then, Popeye eats the spinach and becomes super strong. He then beats up Brutus and saves Olive! This same story has been told many times over. I had been taught that when evil exists, you must beat it up to defeat it. When there is evil, beat it to a pulp to defeat it. When there is evil, make sure to increase the evil in order to defeat it.

But that is not the way Jesus treated violence. Jesus treated violence with gentleness, with private integrity, with patience and with compassion. We are not talking about the moral theology of self-defense but remember that in the Gospel, Jesus uttered some words when the apostles could not cast out a demon. The apostles said – Lord, why can we not cast out devils the way you cast out devils? The Lord said – This devil cannot be cast out by superior cultic power. This demon cannot be cast out by your prayer alone, your formula. You will be able to cast it out by way of superior, not cultic, but moral power, spiritual power. Moral power, spiritual power is the power of the church, the power of the world to change the world.

Back when we were still young priests, there was a priest who did not set a good example with his life. One day, the priest was approached by someone with a problem with demon possession and the priest was alone in the convent. The person asked the priest to cast out, exorcise the demon. Father was fearful. He knew that demon will speak of the priest’s sins. He thought to himself, if I cast out this demon, he might expose all of my sins. The priest went to the Tabernacle. He opened the door of the Tabernacle and in an act of desperation, he stuck his face inside saying– Lord, I will cast out this demon but please help me. When the demon speaks of my sins, it will bring shame to both of us.

This prayer of the desperate priest was heard by the Lord. He was able to cast out the demon because he called the Lord for help. My dear brothers and sisters, we cannot fight violence with just superior violence. We cannot fight the devil of violence with cultic power. We need spiritual power, we need moral power in order to overcome the violence in the world. Jesus has endured so much violence, from his circumcision to his crucifixion. It must end now because the only violence that came from the death of the Lord should be the only violence that we should consider worth adoring, worth worshipping. Because that violence on the cross resulted in the salvation of the world.

Let us end violence not with violence but through personal pursuit of holiness, of trust, and following the example of the Prince of Peace.

Saint Joseph, help us in our fight against violence in this world. 

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