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True religion is life with God

Rev. Fr. Russell Bantiles

Cogito

 

I COULD not hide my excitement and joy upon viewing this ad on the TV screens of the Davao airport’s waiting lounge last Sunday afternoon. Not often do I see religious advertisements in public places especially international airports. This one clearly shows how religious still Filipino people are!

But my heart almost sank as the last sentences flashed on the screen: It says: “Life with God is not about a religion. It is about a relationship”. What a clear indication also that, though we remain a religious people, our understanding of religiosity is plunging into the depths with the speed of light!

Definitely, whoever contributed such a preposterous idea has never bothered checking the etymology of the term “religion”. Had he or she done so, he/she could have discovered that “religion” comes from the Latin religio (“respect for what is sacred”) and religare (“to bind fast”, hence, a “bond between gods and humans”). St. Thomas Aquinas employed this original meaning when he affirmed that human beings are religious by nature, that is, man always seeks for the expression of his innate bond or relationship with a divine being. Hence, religion is about relationship with God: life with God is all about religion.

But what is behind this erroneous concept on religion that the TV ad reveals is the mentality so widespread among the Filipino society today that says: Every religion is equal (Pare-pareho lang lahat ‘yan). Related to this is the thought that “No religion can save us”. However, a little analysis of our definition of religion will prove that these mentalities are wrong.

Any relationship can be right or wrong. (I have to disagree with the statement that says, “Love knows no right or wrong”. Love can be right or wrong depending on its object. Love for the wrong object is a wrong love. And we can love wrongly the right object of love). Even how much you love that person, the fact that you are (or that person is) already married to somebody else makes your relationship wrong. Now, since religion is a kind of relationship, it can also be right or wrong, less right or more wrong. Hence, there can be wrong religion too!

Which do you think is the right and true religion (or relationship with God): the one which God establishes with man or the one man sets up with his god? It has been said that the beauty of Judeo-Christian religion lies in the fact that it is God who seeks out for man while in other religions, it is man who searches for a god.

Man, by nature, is a being created by God and for God. When he tried to escape from this relationship, God searches for man and brought him back to a life with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But God did this by gathering a people—the Church (Greek ekklesia meaning “congregation”)—to be His instrument in bringing human beings to live in an intimate relationship with Him; in other words, to live the right religion.

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