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Who cares what God thinks?

MANILA (SE): “At the sunset of life, the blood that has spilled all over our sidewalks and streets will judge us because when we could have done something, we chose to keep quiet. There is no peace for cowards. The next life to be snuffed out could be yours,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas says in a pastoral letter read out at all Masses in Lingayen Dagupan on September 4.

“The teacher was killed last Friday. It was a violent death in the hands of violent men. Blood, sweat and tears intermingled on his face and body, so severe that he looked more like a worm than a man,” he says in paraphrasing the death of our saviour on Calvary.

“The apostles were downcast. They were afraid, frustrated, angry, ashamed, guilty and anxious. Are we the next to die?” he says they asked themselves.

He points out that so many Filipinos believe that by randomly killing criminals, justice will be restored to those they have offended. By killing them, other suspected criminals will be discouraged from continuing their criminal activities.

“So they think. But what does God think? Do we still care about God?” Archbishop Villegas asks the people sitting in the pews at the table of the Lord.

“If you agree with us that killing suspected criminals is a crime and a sin in itself, why do you stay seated there in comfort keeping quiet,” he says, while reminding people that whatever they do or do not do they do to Christ.

“The goal of justice is not revenge. The goal of justice is restoration of harmony,” the archbishop says. “Hatred can only be appeased by love, not vengeance. Who does not need mercy?”

He also points out that the random targeting of suspected criminals has seen the blood of many innocent people swallowed by the thirsty Philippine soil. “And we know it,” he stresses. 

“Even those who work for order can be mistaken. Our hearts grieve for the innocent murdered ones. Guns do not make mistakes. Trigger happy vigilantes do,” he continues.

He continues saying that we should pray for those who have died in the so-called drug purge. “Innocent or guilty, they need our prayer.”

Archbishop Villegas then challenges the people saying, “Who has no sin be the first to kill! We shall pray for those who kill… their brothers’ blood cries out from the bloodied soil.”

He also calls for prayer for those whose lives have been ruined by drug dealers, who although they may still breathe are already dead. “Let the Lord be their hope and God’s grace lift them up from darkness into light.”

The archbishop then reminds his diocese that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, asking if, like the men who killed our saviour who would not execute on a Sunday, the vigilantes of The Philippines would allow peace to reign for even 24 hours.

He also reminds people of the over 2,000 families that are now grieving for a parent, a promising child about to graduate, a wife or husband. “They are crying and can see no light ahead. There is no one to console.”

And to those who believe that the blood-soaked soil of the nation will fertilise a healthier and more beautiful Philippine culture, or that tacit inertia is the better part of valour, Archbishop Villegas has just six words, “Wake up my people! Wake up!”

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