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(Part 52)


April 29, 2015

Indonesia proceeded with the execution of 8 convicts on death row, mainly for drug dealing, but held off the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina. The Indonesian government had already rejected appeals coming from VP Binay, President Noynoy Aquino and Pacman. President Joko Widodo of Indonesia had stood firm, even under the threats of the Australian and other governments (the gall and arrogance of these western governments threatening their good relationship with Indonesia for the sake of drug smugglers and dealers!).

Let not our government officials claim credit. President Joko already rejected their appeals. The stay of execution could only be a miracle, wrought by prayer of the Filipino people, who are helpless against powerful drug syndicates and oppressive western governments.

We do not know if Mary Jane will be pardoned or will still be executed. We can only continue to pray and leave the matter in the hands of God.

It was national prayer that caused this miracle, particularly the Oratio Imperata by the Catholic Church in the Philippines. This prayer tempered the full wrath of typhoon Mekkhala (Amang) that would have affected the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Tacloban (it did cut short his visit there), the devastation of which by a previous storm (Haiyan/Yolanda) was the very reason he visited the Philippines. This prayer also miraculously blunted the expected super-typhoon Chedeng which would have devastated the country during Holy Week. This prayer now is being invoked by the CBCP for peace in Mindanao.

Most of what governments do or fail to do actually contribute to the darkness and evil in the world. Many top government officials (or course not all and there are some very good ones) are corrupt and are not public servants but only serve themselves. The world is indeed under the dominion of the evil one. How can we weak ones cope and overcome? Prayer is our primary weapon.

In my From the SG article on Synodos (Part 63), we see the report of the German Church that found out that 42% of German priests do not pray every day. No wonder the Catholic Church in Germany is in disarray, with Church attendance way down low, and some German bishops being liberals who want to make accommodations with practices contrary to Church teaching.

Prayer is so important that it is the very first element in our CFC-FFL covenant. It is also the very first element in the LCSC covenant. Prayer is the foundation of our life in Christ, and for effectiveness in mission.

And so it is that the first Christian community (the Church) established on the day of Pentecost “devoted themselves .... to the prayers.” (Acts 4:42). And so it is that the apostles, the pastoral and servant leaders of the community, did not want to get bogged down with handling the daily distribution of food but wanted to “devote ourselves to prayer ....” (Acts 6:4). And so it is that in the face of intense persecution, the people of God “prayed” (Acts 4:31a). What was the effect of their prayer? “As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit, and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31).

Prayer is powerful! Prayer is essential to our life and mission. But it must be fervent, heartfelt, humble, not self-referential, desiring only what is good for God’s people and what will give glory to God. Prayer must be a reflection of our intense personal relationship with Jesus. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, but that means being worthy to be temples of the Holy Spirit as we grow in holiness and imitation of Christ. With such prayer, we are emboldened and empowered to continue to speak the word of God, to proclaim the gospel of salvation in Jesus.

Miracles still do happen. We look to the miracle of spiritual revival in the Philippines and in all other nations, enabled through the rapid and massive proclamation of the gospel.

Pray every day. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5:17).

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