“Radical” A Philippine Vincentian priest offers the following thoughts on the meaning of “radical” as part of his reflection on the Sunday gospel Matthew 5:17-37
…I hope that the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5: 17-37) can guide us to that which is really radical. Beyond left and right, beyond obedience to the law or its outright abolition, Jesus points us to that which is truly fundamental – the human person – the vulnerable human person in front of us who defies all our labels and categories. It is to him or her that we owe our respect, our forgiveness, our truth.
Jesus says: whoever is angry with his brother kills. What the law says is not important; the brother is. So, be reconciled and forgive, says Jesus. Whoever does not respect a woman commits adultery. Caught or not by the law is not important; the woman is. So, fight off all traces of patriarchy inside and out. Whoever does not tell the truth is “from the evil one”.
I was trying to decipher what this means. In the ongoing corruption scandals, one wonders how people on high places can tell lies without batting an eyelash and still live. Yet the victim of all these charades of the powerful is the simple person on the street, those at the margins. So, Jesus enjoins, tell the truth so that the poor may at least live. For our false words do kill.
The vulnerable human person is there and stares us right on our face. The poor human person is “the other” who puts our self-assured acts into question and calls us, begs us, compels us to act in respect, love and service so that he or she may live. In the words of Emmanuel Levinas, “The face, in its nudity and defenselessness, signifies: Do not kill me.”
Now, that is radical!
Read the full reflection at his Facebook page.
Fr. Pilario was educated at schools in the Philippines and in Europe, obtaining both his licentiate (STL) and doctorate (STD) in Sacred Theology from Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. Since 1997, he has authored twenty-five referenced articles in various academic and ecclesial journals. Fr. Pilario is a founding member of DAKATEO, The Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines, where he served as president and a member of the board.
Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M.
St.Vincent School of Theology
221 Tandang Sora Ave., Quezon City