Can a politician become a saint? Or can a saint be a politician
AFTER the deadline of registration of those who would like to run in the next elections, campaign has started.
Yet the Philippines seem to have entered, albeit already decades ago, into an era of darkness. The basic question remains for those who are in the field called politics: Can a politician become a saint? Or can a saint be a politician? In this age where indifference is globalized and the callousness of consciences are rampant, to be a politician seems to be a profession which has no salvific future. Due to corruption affecting many politicians, we could rashly judge that politicians can never become saints.
In fact the change of leadership through street revolutions have simply replaced old tyrants with new breed of tyrants. Perhaps we could ask ourselves. Would there be a need of a revolution that happened in our hearts with a view towards sanctity? Could we start a new political journey that leads the politicians to become holy? Some has started this path under the banner of “maka Dios, maka tao, at maka Bayan”, yet much has still be to be desired seeing all the “darkness” around us which could have also started inside of our hearts. Some would even shout, what we need is not a revolution but a conversion of hearts.
I recall what Pope Francis told the American Congress in his last visit to North America: “Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.”
To be involved in politics then is a vocation and just as any vocation is to bring us to sanctity, the service for the common good of the temporal order is a means to be holy. Chiara Lubich, speaking from experiences of many politicians, said: “there is a true and proper political vocation. It is a personal calling that emerges from circumstances and is communicated through one’s conscience. Those who believe clearly discern God’s voice entrusting them with a task … [They] feel the political calling, perhaps inspired by a social need, by a minority group that needs help, by a violated human right, or by the desire to do something good for their city or nation” (Lubich, Chiara (2007-01-01). Essential Writings (p. 254). New City Press)
It is a calling to serve the common good and not exclusively the good of any family or clan. It is also a calling to work for fraternity and justice. In fact, we believe that before all else it is an act of brotherhood.” (Lubich, Chiara (2007-01-01). Essential Writings (p. 254). New City Press.) In order words: this “living out [of a] political choice as a vocation . . . leads us to understand that others, who have made a political choice different from our own, can be motivated by a vocation of love similar to ours.” (Lubich, Chiara (2007-01-01). Essential Writings (p. 255). New City Press.)
Even those who are considered to be political opponents share in the same design and vocation. We could “live brotherhood so well that we reach the point of loving the party of the other as we love our own, knowing that neither party was born by chance, but each as the answer to a historical need within the national community. And only by satisfying all the needs, only by harmonizing them in a common design, can politics reach its proper goal. Brotherhood brings out the genuine values of each party and rebuilds the political life of a nation as a whole.” (Lubich, Chiara (2007-01-01). Essential Writings (p. 255). New City Press.)
It could be said, like marriage, or consecrated life, politics is a real calling, a vocation. Since the primary vocation of all men is the calling to love and to be loved, politics can not but be a calling to love and serve the city (Polis). Chiara even goes further: “politics seen as love creates and preserves those conditions that allow all the other types of love to flourish: the love of young people who want to get married and who need a house and employment; the love of those who want to study and who need schools and books; the love of those who run their own businesses and who need roads and railways, clear and reliable laws…. Thus, politics is the love of all loves …” (ibid).
Love and brotherhood which is at the root of every vocation should play a very important role in our hetero-partisan political national situation. In doing this, politicians could become saints and saints could become politicians.