Help, not Oppress, Volcano Victims

Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD on January 19, 2020 /Feast of Sto. Niño

The devastating Taal volcano eruption and typhoons that left our country reeling show that there are terrible sufferings beyond our control.

This reminds me about an old lady who was riding on a plane seated beside a priest. The weather was stormy and the ride turbulent. The terrified woman said to the man of the cloth: “Father, can’t you do something about this awful storm?”

The priest looked at her and said: “Lady, I’m in sales, not Management,” pointing his finger up to heaven.

Despite the amazing advances of modern science and technology, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and other calamities are the scourges of humanity which defy solution.

These are the tantrums of Nature, the “wrath of God,” that’s part of our imperfect world broken by Original Sin committed by our first Parents.

Our responses to these uncontrolled calamities, however, can be controlled–for good or bad. We can choose to be compassionate by reaching out to the eruption victims or take advantage of their misfortune.

It’s been reported, for instance, how magnanimous countrymen have responded swiftly to reach out to the numerous victims by giving cash or in kind.

God bless them. Those who wish to help can still contribute no matter how little. What you consider as insignificant can mean the survival for the victims.

On the worst side, there are heartless people who take advantage of the situation. They jack up the prices of basic goods like food, vital medical items like face masks, nebulizers, and pulmonary medicines in order to make instant “killing.”

These business people are human vultures. They capitalize on the misfortune and sufferings of their poor fellowmen. This is a grave sin that cries to heaven for vengeance and hound their conscience no end.


A politician has a strong devotion to the Sto. Niño. After an election, he won through widely-known irregularities. Grateful to the Sto. Niño, he asked a priest to say a Thanksgiving Mass!

To have a devotion to the Sto. Niño is good but winning an election or enriching oneself through dishonest ways is unacceptable. The Church’s teaching states: “This split between devotional faith and immoral conduct is defective and erroneous.”

In the gospel today, Jesus teaches: “Unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18, 10).
“Like little children,” what does that mean? What is it about a child that Jesus liked and valued so much?

The emphasis is on being childlike, not childish. “Mag-pakabata,” hindi maging “isip-bata.”

One endearing quality about the child is its innocence and simplicity. When I was in grade school, I used to play with all kinds of kids in the neighborhood. My parents would warn me not to mingle with “dirty” kids from the depressed areas. But I didn’t see any difference nor mind it if they came from a poor or rich families.

Another quality a child possesses is his spirit of dependence and trust. This is shown, for instance, when a toddler crossing the street puts its hand in the hand of the father and mother.
This dependence is true also with God. It requires true faith and a healthy fear.

The absence of dependence is shown concretely when a man has no more time for God. Work and pursuit of money take his place or when he believes that he can do and get everything he wants with the power of his wealth and intelligence, like what some politicians are doing.

Further, we are a country which is vastly Christian but we are among the highest when it comes to graft and corruption, crimes of violence and extra judicial killings (EJK).

While popular devotions, like the Sto. Niño, are certainly part of the Christian faith, the greater challenge is to apply Christ’s teachings of love, honesty, justice, forgiveness in every social, political, economic sphere of life.

If we fail to live our true faith, we stand to incur the indictment the Lord said to the hypocrites during his time: “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.”

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