MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle challenged "sellers" of people on Holy Wednesday, April 17, to repent as Judas Iscariot did.
In a homily, Tagle recalled that Judas ended up throwing away the 30 pieces of silver he got after betraying Jesus. There is goodness even in Judas, he pointed out. (READ: In defense of Judas)
"Nu'ng nakita niya ang ginawang pangmamaliit, paghahagupit kay Hesus, ano ang ginawa niya du'n sa 30 pilak na tinanggap niya, nakita niya? Hindi. Tinapon niya, hindi rin niya ginamit. Kaya sabi ko huwag nating husgahan. Meron din siyang kabutihan," Tagle said, referring to Judas.
(When he saw the humiliation, the scourging of Jesus, what did he do to the 30 pieces of silver that he received? He threw it away, he did not use it. That's why I'm telling you, let us not judge him. There is goodness in him.)
"Kaya doon sa mga nagbebenta ng kapwa-tao, para doon sa bumibili ng dangal ng kapwa-tao, sana tularan ang pagbabalik-loob ni Hudas Iskariote. Nagsimula sa nakasasakit na ugali pero noong nakita niya ang hindi magandang bunga, pinili niya huwag gamitin 'yung perang 'yun dahil 'yun ang naging mitsa sa pagdurusa ng kanyang kaibigan," Tagle said.
(That's why for those selling other people, those who try to buy the dignity of other people, emulate the repentance of Judas Iscariot. He began with a harmful attitude, but when he saw its evil outcome, he chose not to use that money because that was the cause of his friend's suffering.)
"May pag-asa po tayo (We have hope)," Tagle added.
Tagle made these remarks in his Mass for informal settlers in Parola, Tondo, at around 9 am on Holy Wednesday. The cardinal had also visited Parola for his 35th anniversary as a priest in February 2017, after a fire left at least 3,000 homeless in this community.
Sale of people
Tagle said that while Jesus did not experience fire, he experienced his life falling apart, including when his friend Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.
"Dito siguro mas masakit kasi magkaibigan sila, disipulo. Parang, 'Magkano ka ba?' Magkano ba si Hesus?" he said. (This is more painful because they're friends, he was a disciple. It was like, "How much are you?" How much is Jesus?)
Tagle noted that to this day, the "sale" of people happens when life is equated with money or material possessions.
Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, recalled the sale of Africans in Senegal centuries ago. Back then, he said males were sold for guns, women were sold for a bottle of wine, and children were sold for mirrors.
"Ang nakakalungkot po kasi, parang nangyari na noong panahon ni Hesus patuloy pa ring nangyayari ngayon. Ang tao, ang buhay katumbas na lang ng pera o gamit. Minsan nga po baka mas pinahahalagahan pa ang gamit o pera kaysa tao," Tagle said.
(It's sad that what happened during the time of Jesus continues to this day. Human life is equated with money or material possessions. Sometimes, material possessions or money is given more importance than persons.)
"Mga kapatid, ito po ay napakasakit kay Hesus, at sana huwag na natin itong palaganapin. 'Yung sakit na naidudulot sa kapwa kapag ang dangal ng tao ay katumbas lamang ng pera kahit na gaano pa 'yan kalaki. Ang halaga ng tao, kanyang buhay, bilang galing sa Diyos ay hindi mababayaran," Tagle said.
(My brothers and sisters, this is really painful for Jesus, and I hope we don't allow this to continue. The pain caused on our neighbor when the dignity of people is equated with money, no matter how big. The value of a person, his or her life, because it comes from God can never be bought.) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.