By Dr. Dencio Acop
‘The world loves a winner’, the saying goes. Others would say ‘finders keepers, losers weepers’. Or ‘to the victors the spoils’. And many other expressions about those who make it in this world. Nothing really wrong with that I suppose. Still, something tugs at the heart when we witness worldly celebrations instead of ones that uplift the underdog. This life in this world has defined the meaning of success. Indeed it has. But often it is a definition that merely rewards titles and positions. But not honesty, courage, and selflessness. Today’s criteria for success are often merely a reflection of what those in power and privilege would like. But not of those whom power and privilege ought to uplift: the common good and those who fight for it. To me, it is a sorry state that alumni recognition for instance goes not to those who lived the motto in the truest sense. But to those who merely attain high rank and lofty titles devoid of virtue and honor. The road upwards has long been marred by selfish negotiations among the wealthy few devouring those with vested ambitions in order to keep all profits and spoils within the house including the scraps. The once virtuous few who were first at the table of education, opportunity, and right-thinking have long abandoned the cause of giving. Become masters at taking instead even to the point of death. Not just of the body but even more so the soul. The secular takeover of the moral order has redefined what is right and wrong, success and failure. But are they really the true definitions?
It is the season of Lent in Christendom. During this time, Christians observe in earnest the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. When I read Pope Francis preach attachment, mistrust, and power as the devil’s three poisons, I thought they were the reasons for the pillars. You see, the poisons were the enticements of satan to Jesus during his forty days of fasting in the wilderness. Some may say how come satan is able to tempt the Creator of the universe! He was not tempting God for God cannot be tempted. He was trying
the human nature of the Son of God. The devil, being the king of this fallen world, was cunningly seducing the human side of Christ then, once successful, turn around towards God and say ‘I beat you’. Of course satan was unsuccessful and that is why he kept at tempting Jesus all the way to Calvary. He still tempts the Lord until this very day. Through us. It was Jesus who showed us the pillars, as He had given us all and modeled how we should live. All these accounts are in the Bible. Lent is about the individual’s being born again — his conversion story from a life that is full of himself to one that is full of God. His repentance composed of fasting, conversion through charity, and redemption by a life of prayer where he begins to let go and let God fight his battles against satan and sin.
How do we love God back? How do we prove our love for Him and reciprocate His love for us? After all, it is us who need Him more than He us. Why do some of us still try to do the right thing even if the world considers us a failure? Why do we continue to do the things we do even if these cause us pain and loss? Why do we say no even when all the rest of the world say yes? To wealth; To power; To worldly honor; To unbridled pleasure? It is never easy to say no to the desires of our senses given our fallen nature. Yet indeed life is also about saying ‘no’ even if it is about saying ‘yes’. For the world is full of God’s gifts. The world itself is God’s gift. But as there is a positive as well as a negative in the nature of all of God’s creation, there is a software of order created by the Author of all life. The tree of life and tree of the knowledge of good and evil lay the ground rules for imperfect creatures such as us to follow. Is that too much to ask? Why do we choose what we do even if it leads to failure as the world sees it, suffering, and pain? Because that is heaven. Our heaven. Our way of telling God that we love Him back. And it begins right here.