Thursday, April 13, 2006

Psalm 69 for our times

For this Holy Thursday, here is a variation on the theme of Psalm 69 that I had written for Holy Week in 1992. With a few changes here and there, it still applies 14 years later.

Save me, O God, for their diarrhea of words has come up to my chin. I am drowning in their slimy saliva and I slip everywhere I step. Into this depths I have been pushed and I am engulfed by the torrent of true lies and half-truths. I am weary from pleading that they shut up for a while and give my ears a rest. My throat is hoarse and dry.

More than the hair in their armpits and pubis are the dirt they have spread about one another. Oh, how they hate those who attack them. How they fight over the people’s loyalty. They strut about like angels and yet people know they have stolen, they have lied, they have killed, they have fornicated.

O God, you know I am not faultless but also know that I do not covet a government position.

Do not allow me to become too cynical and do not allow me to be dazzled either. Oh Lord, help me keep my conscience and my actions pure, equip me with the power to smell the rotten a kilometer away.

Some of them now sound like strangers to me. I recognize some of them only by their looks. How they have been transformed by this political frenzy, how they have been changed by their desire ``for the truth'' when it is actually their desire for power that makes them froth in the mouth. They think their mouths drip with sweetness, but I can only smell the malodorous emission of a septic tank.

When we screamed for relief from the pollution and the traffic jam of their accusations, alibis and cover-ups, they pretended not to hear. When we accused them of neglecting their jobs, they threw back the ball and said yes they are, and that we have to do our part.

They rouse us from sleep with their antics, they wreck our schedules to make announcements and declare that danger stalks the land. Even those who call themselves holy are partaking in these exercises to take sides, to make their power felt, to convince themselves that they still matter.

During election season, oh how they try to look like the working man, how they try to eat like the peasant. They wear faded clothes and lousy T-shirts hoping to look like the poor when in fact they only want to use the poor as footstools. Liars, Lord, they are nothing but a bunch of liars. They do cartwheels to get our attention and, oh, how they love to look into the TV cameras and preen at anything that moves.

God of the weak and weakened, I pray for strength to resist their packaged lies. Give me the spontaneity to shut my eyes and ears every once in a while. Give me the quickness in deleting their lies in texted messages and junk email. Give me the daring to spit on their eyes and throw urine on their scalps even if it’s only in my mind.

Rescue me from the new faces. Rescue me from the newcomers who flaunt their facility with language. Rescue me from those who think serving means stealing a little for themselves to make up for what they have spent to get to where they are. Rescue me from those who think everybody steals, cheats and lies except them. Rescue me too from those who really stole, cheated and lied. You know who they are, you know who helped them.

Make them blind so they will not see themselves on TV, let their loins be stricken with palsy. Pour out your fury upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. Make their camp desolate and let no one dwell in their tents.

I myself am wounded and weak. Let your mercy envelop me so that I may be protected from the wolves in signature clothing.

I will praise your name, O God, with songs and poems and prose. I will glorify your goodness with my honest vote and decisions. This will please you, O Yahweh Sabbaoth, more than the hundreds of charity projects that bear their names.

For you, Lord, hear the confused and the needy and the faint of heart.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth bloom, the seas dance. All the living creatures praise you. For you will save us, you will rebuild our cities and villages. You will provide jobs and just wages to the unemployed. You will give the landless a piece of this planet and the wretched of the earth a share of the earth's bounty.

You will help your people survive all this insanity. The just and honest will triumph and those who hearken to your word and obey your laws will inherit the land.
Sr. Esperanza Quirino of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, known from north to south as Sr. Parang, was laid to rest last Tuesday. She was 79. She was the older sister of the famous late TV host and entertainment writer JQ, by the way, and, oh, what disparate worlds they moved in. Beloved by so many, this peripatetic ``bag lady’’ (as Bishop Chito Tagle fondly called her) indeed died with her sandals on. I had thought she might go in that manner, pupulutin na lang sa lupa ng kung sino (picked up from the ground by strangers) and I did worry about what people might find in her tattered bag.

Well, Sr. Parang did suddenly slump to the ground while walking home alone last Friday. Her beloved earth caught her and gave her a loving embrace. It was right and fitting for she was into environmental work, justice for the poor and 101 other concerns. The poor she loved and worked with in Cavite found her and carried her in their arms. They ministered to her until, several hours later, she breathed her last and rendezvoused with her Shepherd God.