The Audacity of Hypocrites

Hypocrisy comes from the ancient Greek word for a stage actor who performs behind a mask. It happens when the outside does not match the inside. It is claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

Hypocrisy is something like what leading presidential candidate Rody Duterte said about the trailing Mar Roxas in one of the presidential debates: “pretentious.”

I use “hypocrisy” and “Roxas” in a sentence because I just came across a post on social media by someone supporting Roxas that urges all Filipino Catholics to choose a president “who can stand shoulder to shoulder with other global leaders, a truly world class leader, who is the representative of the finest, most noble, and most honorable in us as Filipinos and Christians. We may not be a first world country, but we are a decent people, with a deep sense of our tradition, and proud of our faith.”

I could not believe anyone living in a democratic, cosmopolitan, diverse, multicultural and multi-faith society can actually say that publicly and put one’s photo and name under it and not be in the least embarrassed by making such audacious claims.

For one, decency is not the monopoly of Catholics and Pope Francis would be the first one to acknowledge that.

Is this Roxas supporter implying that non-Christians, like Muslims, cannot represent “the finest, most noble, and most honorable in us” to the rest of the world?

And what “tradition” are they referring to? The tradition of collaborating with colonial governments and exploiting the masses for their own personal gain? The tradition of incompetence, corruption, and patronage politics? The tradition of the “burgis” to patronize and condescend and think that they know better than the ignorant and uneducated masang Pilipino? The tradition of the status quo?

The audacity of these hypocritical Christian supporters of Roxas rivals that of the Pharisees. And if I remember my Ateneo theology lessons right, Jesus Christ himself was against hypocrisy with a passion. I remember a chapter in the Gospel of Matthew dedicated to this. And there is a verse there that says: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

In one of his daily homilies at the Vatican during the season of Lent in 2014, Pope Francis said: “The sign that we are far from the Lord is hypocrisy. The hypocrite does not need the Lord, he is saved by himself – so he thinks – and he disguises himself as a saint.”

And don’t you think Roxas claiming to be decent is like disguising himself as a saint?

Because is it decent to claim to be the hero of the people during typhoon Yolanda and flaunt what you did — which was actually your duty and responsibility, in the first place — in a comic book to get votes? Is it decent to make yourself look good at the expense of other people’s tragedy? It is what Jesus Christ would call “giving to the poor to be recognized by others.”

And is it decent to claim to care about the poor and the landless yet not address the issue of his clan being accused by farmers of being actively involved in land grabbing activities that grew the wealth and real estate holdings of his family? Is it decent to claim to be fair and upright yet giving unprecedented concessions to his friends in the mining industry and turning a blind eye on their alleged illegal activities? In fact, Roxas himself is reportedly a shareholder in at least seven mining companies. It is what Jesus Christ would call “complaining about the behavior of others when yours is even worse.”

Pope Francis tells us what makes people hypocrites. He said that “they disguise themselves as good people…they believe they are more righteous than others, but really, they despise others.”

Ah, so that is where all the hate is coming from — their self-righteousness.

Hypocrisy is thinking that they are better than others, stressed by no less than the Pope himself.

Tyler Edwards, author of “Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ,” has an interesting insight on how to overcome hypocrisy. He said being a true Christian is about love. And love is incapable of hypocrisy.

“The more we love others, the more receptive others will be to what we have to say. When we love, we can fail without being called a hypocrite. When we love, we can challenge without sounding judgmental. Jesus was never called a hypocrite because Jesus loved people,” Edwards wrote.

And that is why to call yourself Christian while judging others and promoting hate is having the audacity of hypocrites. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be represented by someone like that to the rest of the world.

First appeared on Mindanao Times, May 5, 2016