Beginning again (and again)


By Constitutional and statutory fiat, the terms of our elective (except Barangay) officials begin at noontime of June 30 following their election (held every three years, on the second Monday of May). The electoral exercise held last May 13 brings our country a new set of national and local political leaders who will be taking oath (the operative fact of “assuming office”) next Sunday for the new three-year term. I take this opportunity to congratulate all of them for their election (or re-election). And to those candidates who did not get elected, I send my best wishes. Having been there myself (as a veteran of several electoral defeats), I can sincerely attest that nothing is lost. As St. Paul reminds us, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Incidentally, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul will be celebrated on June 29 (that happens to fall this year on the Saturday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost, which would otherwise be the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart Mary).

The inauguration of our new set of officials this coming June 30 triggers reflection on the idea that life in this world is cyclical: day follows night, and so on. Ordinary reality/experience tends to repeat itself; even as, at the same time, there should be growth—enrichment—along with the occasional fumble or regression. In the case of the individual human person, it can be said that the life-project of one’s sanctification is a continuing cycle of beginning and beginning again.

“Nunc coepi!—now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve—to love!—God with a wholehearted loyalty” (Furrow, No. 161). These are words from St. Josemaría Escrivá, Priest and Founder of Opus Dei, who devoted his life to spreading the doctrine of “the universal call to holiness and the apostolate” (Opening Prayer of the Mass in commemoration of St. Josemaría), together with the idea of “sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of (one’s) ordinary duties” (Prayer Card). His feastday is celebrated on June 26.

Going back to the “inauguration” of our elective officials on June 30, it is interesting to note that the word derives from the Latin, augurare, “to augur”, i.e., to foretell or predict (as from supernatural “signs”) what the future will bring. I would like to think that the triennial oath-taking of our elected officials is a foretelling of better things to come; and that, as such, the event is always a celebration of hope.

Of course, what is “better” or “worse” is often a matter of subjective opinion. We can only strive to build consensus among as many as possible on the issues and choices—“political decisions”—that need to be made by our political officials on behalf of all, for the common good. Obviously, however, those choices can also result in objective gains—as well as in what may be objective disasters, out of human weakness; or worse, as in those decisions made with corrupt motives. We must always pray, therefore, that our political leaders (allow themselves to) be filled with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, so that they can be sanctified in their work and effectively contribute to building the kingdom of God on earth.

Anent the political official’s greater capacity to cause good or evil, we can take comfort from the fact that the week (or octave) leading to June 30 always has two great catholic feasts, with the avalanche of graces that come with them: the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and, as mentioned above, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29). In addition, June 22 is the Memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, the latter being the Patron Saint of Politicians. And there is always the feast of St. Josemaría (June 26). But this year is special because two more solemnities, which are “moveable feasts”, fall within the same octave: the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), the Second Sunday after Pentecost, on June 23; and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Friday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost, on June 28.

Am writing this on Corpus Christi Sunday (also coinciding this year with the 117th anniversary of the establishment of the Provincial Government of Palawan), which is about the Holy Eucharist; and I cannot help recalling St. Josemaría’s description of this Sacrament as the “center and root of the interior life of a Christian” (Homily given on April 14, 1960, in Christ is Passing By, No. 87). Vatican II echoes this in referring to the Holy Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium [1964], No. 11).

Indeed, it is the participation of the faithful at Mass (making us present at Calvary), and receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, that brings us into the closest possible union with God in this world. Our Lord Jesus Christ also said, “(U)nless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you” (Jn 6:53).

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ark of the Covenant, who carried and nourished our Lord Jesus in her womb, may all our politicians (including my poor self)—and everyone, for that matter—become more and more eucharistic souls! (23.VI.2019)

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