[COLUMN] Change

ANY change is difficult to do and accept. Yet, it’s the only way to transform hearts and minds. It’s the only way to achieve and maintain peace and justice in the world.

Indeed, our world has a dire need for change. It’s more evident now, given the global events in recent weeks, particularly the war in Ukraine. The plight of more than a million people fleeing Ukraine to escape war and terror has demoralized us. As the media show Russia’s planes continually bombing the cities of Ukraine, killing soldiers and civilians, we say to one another, “Why is this happening in the world? We have never seen anything like this in our generation.” And then, we cringe at any thought of World War III and nuclear war.

The culprits for these evil things in our world today are hatred, greed, and pride in human hearts and the absence of true faith in God and fear of Him. As St. Paul tells us in this Sunday’s (March 13) Second Reading (Phil 3:17-4:1):

For many, as I have told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. 

What can we do besides pray to stop this war? For sure, the resolutions rest on our world leaders, especially a change of heart in President Putin and his cabinet. However, as citizens of this world, we can all denounce the evil of this war and try as best to help the Ukrainian people find comfort in their sufferings. So, I’m glad that churches in the U.S., like ours, are setting up second collections for Ukrainian refugees.

Indeed, the Ukraine war has moved hearts to pray for the people of Ukraine and provide them with their necessities.It’s making us conscious of our common humanity and responsibility for one another.

It’s this change that must happen in our world. As Pope Francis states In his encyclical Laudato Si’, God calls us to foster a “spirit of generous care, full tenderness” and “a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works.” This generosity entails a “loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion.”

Lent allows us to examine ourselves on how we have demonstrated generous care and tenderness for one another. As such, it convicts us of our indifference, selfishness, hatred, greed, and other sins.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 9:28b-36) about the transfiguration of Christ speaks of the yearning of our hearts for peace in the words of Peter: “Master, it is good that we are here.” But as Jesus implied, keeping peace in our hearts and the world entails the sacrifice of dialogue, humility, mutual understanding, forgiveness, compassion, and laying down of arms.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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