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A REFLECTION:

WHO DO WE VOTE FOR IN BATAAN

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD,

FOR THE GROWTH OF THE PROVINCE,

FOR THE GOOD OF OUR SOUL?

 

 

I wish to thank our honourable congresswoman and congressman, our governor and vice-governor, our provincial board members, the mayors and vice-mayors and councilors of the city and municipalities of Bataan who have  come to manifest their unity and to express support for our Bataan Election 2013 Peace Covenant Signing.

 

I thank also the officials and representatives of various government departments here in Bataan: the Comelec, the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army. They will give us the valuable assistance and cooperation to fully realize the objectives of our Bataan 2013 Peace Covenant Signing.  

 

You are all one in the province; you all know each other and many, if not all, of you have been together and even worked together for many years. I am sure some of you are even relatives and close friends. Some are townmates or even neighbors. We might all differ in age, education, and status in life we all have one desire and aim for our beloved province; no matter what position we aspire, there is still only one thing that we will vow to work for for our province. And what is that? It is to serve Bataan. It is to serve the people of Bataan.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ while He was on earth, became man and lived among us to serve us. As He said in the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28).

 

This is the reason for your government positions: service. This is our mission in life: to serve. This is our promise and our duty: to serve.

 

Our desire and goal to serve may be blameless and worthy, but we will still be tested. No matter how honourable our intention and promise, we will still be tempted, our intentions questioned or side-tracked. In the end we can find our dreams to serve twisted and sullied.

 

We see this too in Jesus Christ when He was tempted by the devil who sought to waylay Him from the plan of God on what true service entails, and dangled before Him empty promises on power.  The evangelist St. Luke vividly portrays this to us in the gospel for the first week of Lent (Lk. 4:1-13). We can be tempted in the same way that Jesus was tempted. What are these temptations for us?

 

First. The first temptation of the devil was about bread as physical sustenance for the body. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Lk. 4:3). This challenge from the devil entices us to work and fulfil our duty only so we can have comfort and pleasure for our body. But this is not so with true service which entails sacrifice and compassion.

 

Second. The second temptation is about obtaining power for profit, for protecting vested interests. “All this will be yours, if you worship me” (Lk. 4:7).  This enticement from the devil offers the illusion that all our work must be paid for in full and must benefit only us. In our age it is about money and the notion that with money one can have everything. However, there are things that we cannot lay before the altar of mammon. Fortunately there are things that money cannot buy. One of them is service that is selfless and pure, that is after the common good and the good of all.

 

Third.  The third temptation is about questioning the power of God and about how the devil asks us to believe that we can have the power to come to our bidding, that we can lord it over others for our personal benefit and advancement. “With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Lk. 4:11).  Clearly the devil wants people to use power to oppress people and suppress the truth. But true service is about fulfilling one’s duties and responsibilities honestly and truthfully.

 

How do we combat these temptations in public office, public service? Allow me to offer three G’s.

 

First. For the Glory of God.

Second. For the Growth of Bataan.

Third. For the Good (salvation) of our souls.

 

First. For the Glory of God. All our actions and words must be directed at ultimately giving glory, praise and thanksgiving to God.  We must respect and follow God at all times being true to the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-22). As public servants we will strive to  follow the precepts of God; to accept His holy will and to fulfil His plan for us.

 

We all know that stealing, killing, bearing false witness and coveting what is not ours are all not for God’s glory, on the contrary, these are all against His commandments. They are sins, grievous offenses to Him and neighbors. Candidates whose lifestyle and campaign are marked by these actions are not working for God’s glory. They are working for personal gain and aggrandizement.

 

In the long run it would be good for candidates to have people say of them, “Thank God that you have been called to serve us. Praise God that you will be lead us.” Therefore, put God first, and not your self interests.

 

Before we make a decision or act on something, it might be wise to ask ourselves: “Will this make people know, praise and thank God more? Can I stand before God and be proud of what I have done? With what I do will the people thank God for me and pray for me?”

 

Second.  For the Growth of Bataan. All that we do and say should be for the good of Bataan, for its progress and development. We should not sacrifice our province in the altar of self-interest and personal power. Instead we should sacrifice for the good of our province by not shortchanging it, by not damaging it and destroying it. We will not pillage Bataan; instead we will let it grow with grace and beauty.

 

We will not destroy the beautiful natural beauty of our mountains and seas, especially for profit. Illegal logging is not for the growth of Bataan. Illegal mining is not for the growth of Bataan, Gambling, such as jueteng, is not for the growth of Bataan. They all bring death and destruction. They ruin the environment and weaken the moral fiber of our society. Anyone whose candidacy or campaign is tainted by these will not be for the growth of Bataan.

 

Let us all work so that our beloved province will truly grow in beauty and progress as we all put its good before our own personal interests and intentions. Thus it is good to always ask ourselves before we act: “Will this be a way for our environment to be protected and preserved? Will it help us promote and safeguard our means of livelihood?”

 

Third. For the Good of our soul. Our soul is important; it is that which will live forever. Thus in all that we do we should work to save our souls, and not let our souls be mired in sin and darkness, and lead others to fall, too. Let us put the welfare of our soul first before the comforts and cravings of our mortal body.

 

Bribery is not good for the soul, it slowly erodes the goodness that envelops it. Contraceptives and abortifacients are not good for the soul, they destroy life in the womb. Anyone who chooses or campaigns for these do not have the good of our soul in mind, they are not really after our long-term security and stability. They are thinking only of their own personal satisfaction and not truly working for our salvation.

 

I sincerely hope that all our actions will be a way for salvation and not sin; for good and not evil; for unity and not destruction. If we make these three G’s our guide we will have a campaign and election marked by decency and mutual respect and by strict adherence to issues and not by personal attacks and character assassinations. It will be a clean campaign, free from the dirt of intrigues, lies, and malicious gimmickries.

 

Please remember that you are not just a politician; you are a person, a human being that deserve respect. We are not combatants and competitors. In the end we are all people of Bataan, living together in this province to give glory to God, to make Bataan grow, and to preserve the goodness of our souls.

 

Let me end with this story.

 

A young student wrote a phrase in a post-in and posted it all over his room—on the table, drawer, cabinet, chair. It said, “I am third.” His friends became curious about his fascination for the sentence and asked him why he had it posted all over the place, and also kept repeating it to himself. He told them that it was his mother who gave him the sentence and added that it plays a significant role in his life, it is his guiding principle. This is because of what his mother told him when she handed him those words. She said, “Son, if you want to be successful and secure in life, you have to put God first in your works and words. God is first. Then all people are second. You are just third. If you want to be happy and have a harmonious life, then remember to give love and respect to God first, others second, and place yourself third and last.”  “That is why I have posted it all around because I always want to be reminded to put God first, others second, and myself only third.”

 

May we always have the wisdom and courage to be third.

 

 

 

 

+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD

Bishop of Bataan

Wednesday, 06 February 2013 at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Balanga, Bataan 

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Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)