Can Society Not Aim for “Socioeconomic Paradise” on Earth?

by Bobby Reyes

| Photo by Donald E. Curtis via Creative Commons/Flickr

Part XXII of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series

This columnist studied for 12 years in schools run by secular priests, the SVD Fathers, Benedictine monks, and Jesuits. He has always asked his religious mentors why the clergy and the Bible always mention that people have to do good and obey the Ten Commandments (coursed through Moses) and the Beatitudes (as spoken by Jesus Christ) to get their due rewards in heaven. Why not give at least half of the rewards to the faithful while they follow on Planet Earth God’s laws and teachings?

My teachers in religion and theology always said that “the Bible mentions rewards in heaven multiple times (Matthew 5:12; Luke 6:23, 35; 1 Corinthians 3:14; 9:18).” The gotquestions.org asks further: “But why are rewards necessary? Won’t being in heaven with God be enough? Experiencing Him, His glory, and the joys of heaven will be so wonderful, it’s hard to understand why extra rewards would be needed. Also, since our faith rests in Christ’s righteousness instead of our own (Romans 3:21–26), it seems strange that our works would merit reward.” To read more about the quandary of most Christians, readers can go to this link.

And people, including some theological teachers, often ask the ways and means of achieving “economic paradise” in our respective nations, especially in a Third-World country like the Philippines. Since especially Jesus Christ taught that people should share social benefits, especially food, among themselves, why should his modern-day disciples and followers not do what he commanded?

Remember that during the Last Supper, did Christ not command his 12 apostles to continue breaking bread and drinking the wine (representing his body and blood) in his memory? Ergo, we can argue that the church that Jesus Christ built on rock must be a spiritual temple and an oasis for sustenance. Churches must not only provide spiritual strength but also physical nourishment (and other basic needs of society). And teach their flocks of believers how to plant and cultivate, fish (and/or raise them in fishponds), and help in providing other necessities? I call all of these works the “back-to-basics Christianity.”

Two weeks before the Holy Week of 2016, I presented a concept in a meeting of the Parish Council of Bacon (town but now a district of Sorsogon City, Philippines) on becoming a “PARISH OF THE FUTURE” and made it financially independent.

I talked about it also several times in my talk show, Economic Viewpoints, over at DZGN-FM, a radio station owned and operated by the Diocese of Sorsogon. (We had to pay, of course, the air time).

But my proposal fell on deaf ears, and no priest or prelate ever wanted to discuss it on the air or even in a private meeting.

More than five years have already elapsed since I submitted the proposal. If you read it, you could sense that I was prophetic in my idea to empower parishes economically and/or congregations. But as the Bible says, “No prophet is believed in his own hometown.”

Here’s the “Parish of the Future” link as a Facebook Note.

“Ergo, we can argue that the church that Jesus Christ built on rock must be a spiritual temple and an oasis for sustenance. Churches must not only provide spiritual strength but also physical nourishment (and other basic needs of society).”

A 25-year plan for Bacon (Sorsogon) to become the prototype of a “Parish of the Future” idea. I enumerated the various projects per the MISSION STATEMENT: The members of the Bacon Parish — in partnership with Overseas Sorsoganons, especially Overseas Bacongnons, other Overseas Filipinos and their foreign friends, stakeholders, and the private-and-public sectors — commit to pursue, accomplish and maintain collective efforts for the socioeconomic-and-spiritual development in the Province of Sorsogon by protecting Mother Earth and safeguarding the people’s welfare by undertaking world-class services by deeply motivated, highly-compensated and professional workers to finish the various activities (as suggested in this presentation), all for the greater glory of God and country.

Then this prime mover suggested classifying the proposed plans and programs into short-, medium- and long-term projects. This means that all viable ideas and suggestions shall be treated as items in a conveyor belt of an assembly plant. A long-term project can be fast-tracked to become a short-term goal or objective if all resources are present and available as required in a feasibility study and an environmental impact report. And vice versa, they can push back a short-term goal to become a medium-term project.

One feature of the short-term projects of the “Parish of the Future” was “the manufacture of 40-foot x 40-foot tents with fire-proof tent materials that can double also as emergency shelters and/or field hospitals in cases of natural calamities and/or disasters.” Nobody forecast that almost all churches and places of worship would be shut down for religious services in less than four years due to the COVID-19 disease that became a pandemic. But had the people of Sorsogon voted for my socioeconomic platform, including the conversion — beginning July 1, 2016 — of the provincial-hospital system into a state-of-the-art healthcare-management organization (HMO). All the folks in Sorsogon Province would have fared better in dealing with the pandemic.

“But would not it be better if churches were to help set up HMOs and provide affordable and universal medical coverage from womb to tomb?”

Last Aug. 15, 2021, this column discussed the topic of how “To Create Real Changes, a New President Must Establish a ‘New Frontier for the Youth.’”

The New Frontier discussions include patients’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and, more importantly, funding the HMOs and universal healthcare.

A lead time of almost four years could have prevented many COVID-19 cases, the hospitalization of the patients, and deaths in Sorsogon and other provinces in the Philippines that adopted the proposed affordable and proven medical system.

Yes, clergy members always assure that God’s mansion in heaven has many rooms to accommodate the faithful that die. But would not it be better if churches were to help set up HMOs and provide affordable and universal medical coverage from womb to tomb?

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1 comment

Roberto M Reyes /AKA Bobby M. Reyes September 12, 2021 - 10:33 am

Here is a synopsis of this Sunday’s column:
— The church (or any place of worship of any religion) must not only be a temple for spiritual matters but also must address the basic needs of its parishioners (or members). For want of a better name, this column dubs it the “Back-to-Basics Church (or Temple or Synagogue or Mosque).”
FYI. The Bacon Parish Church (in Sorsogon, PH) is mentioned in this article as a “Parish of the Future.”

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