Tagle to laity: Guard yourselves from loving ‘false gods’

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MANILA, Sept. 16, 2013—Alluding to the multi-billion peso pork barrel scandal, a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church reminded Filipinos to guard themselves against the temptations coming from “false gods”, noting that selfishness and greed root from the inclination of people toward materialism and mundanity. 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said expressing false love to “other lords” such as money, power, and prestige diminishes the true essence of love and results to the destruction, manipulation, and damnation of those who cling to them. 

“Our nation is facing a difficult situation right now. We see how love of country and love of neighbor had easily been taken. If people do not take reconciliation with God in the body of Christ seriously and will not recognize him as the Lord, then we can fool people, we can fool the whole nation rather than love others,” Tagle said in his homily during the recent Real Love Revolution 2013 conference held at the Philippine International Convention Center. 

“Human beings are not the only objects of lust, but also money, power, and prestige. Wherever you find lust, distorted love, selfish direct, and self-centeredness, there is harm. We do not only harm people who trusted us, we harm the nation, we harm the poor, we harm creation so we really need to learn again how to love,” he added. 

Tagle gave these remarks in the midst of the ongoing investigation on the widely denounced pork barrel scandal where billions of public funds were allegedly channeled to dubious non-governmental organizations and foundations. 

“Part of our failures in love, even if Jesus already reconciled us through His love, is because we fall in love with other lords. That is where false love enters. That is where self-seeking supplants self-giving,” he said. 

The prelate noted that the utilitarian mindset of people leads to the destruction of human relationship as it diminishes the worth of each individual, basing their value  not from their worth as human persons, but merely on the wealth and influence they can yield for the benefit of the other. 

“As persons, objects, and things, which are good in themselves and pleasing to the eyes because they are valuable, now they becomes objects of selfish interest. They can be manipulated, they become pleasing not because they are valuable, but because (people) can use them for (their) purposes,” he added. 

“(This love) is utilitarian. It is manipulative. It is really destructive that it does not want to show its true color that is why it pretends to be love,” Tagle noted. 

Reconciliation, not alienation 

According to Tagle, the destruction brought by seeking man-made pleasures separates humans from the Divine, resulting to a “basic brokenness” that blocks people from fully realizing their capacity to love. 

However, he noted that the faithful are given the chance to reconcile by means of total self-giving, just like how Christ reconciled the world with God and with one another. 

“The good news is not alienation and hostility. The good news is God has reconciled us in the fleshly body of Christ through his death,” he added. “The body of Christ became the instrument of love—love that is defined by sinners, love that becomes crucifixion, love that becomes Calvary, love that has become total self-giving, and that is the way to reconciliation.” 

“Jesus is the way to love—full self-giving even if it means Calvary, nothing left for oneself, and everything given out of love,” he added. 

“Instead of destroying, manipulating, and using other people, they are being reconciled. Salvation is the fruit of pure love, while fake love leads to damnation, “Tagle said. (Jennifer Orillaza) 

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