Revisiting ‘Vox populi, vox Dei’ PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 April 2016 11:51



In a previous column some years ago, I said that the “vox populi,” the voice of the people, need not be “vox Dei,” the voice of God. I cited as an example the crowd who welcomed Christ with hosannas when he entered Jerusalem for the last time. (cfr Mt 21,9) It was the same crowd, more or less, who later would shout, “Crucify him, crucify him,” during his trial with Pilate. (cfr Mt 27,16-26)

Precisely because of that episode, I said that the “vox populi” can, in fact, be the “vox diaboli,” the voice of the devil, instead of the voice of God. I still maintain that view, except that it has to be taken now from a broader perspective, that of faith, that gives us another level of understanding.

Yes, it can happen that the “vox populi” can be the “vox diaboli” in the short run and yet it can still be part of the “vox Dei” in the long run. That’s simply because God allows us to think, say and do whatever we want, including going against Him. That permission, which is given to trigger the dynamics of a greater good that would show God’s omnipotent mercy, can be considered also as “vox Dei.”

In allowing the worst evil to take place, that of killing the very Son of God, the greatest good insofar as we are concerned has taken place—our very own salvation. This is so because as the Book of Ecclesiastes has already articulated for us, God is always in control of everything, no matter how we mess up his plans and work.

“The thing that has been it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done. And there is no new thing under the sun.” (1,9) Thus the same book says that there is time for everything. “...a time to be born and a time to die, a time to  plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build...” (3,2-3)

In view of this truth of our faith, a practical conclusion to learn is that while we do our best to shape our life and destiny insofar as we are able, always in truth and charity, we should not take things too seriously as to be a bad sport when what we want, in pursuit of what we consider as doing God’s will, is thwarted.

Let’s just allow ourselves to be thwarted just as Christ  was thwarted when he had to accept the cross, convinced that a greater good will surely come out of it. Yes, let’s just accept the greatest evil that can come to us, i.e., death and martyrdom, if it comes to us, convinced that if we die with Christ, we will also resurrect with him.

Let us avoid falling into the traps of bitter zeal and bigotry that can seduce us with an appearance of an irresistible goodness when in fact the very soul of goodness, charity, is absent.

Remember that episode when Christ upbraided two of his disciples for being over-zealous at the expense of charity. “When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them.” (Lk 9,54-55)

God always has the last word. Goodness and mercy always have the last say. Love always wins, if not now then later. We just have to be patient, learning how to suffer the temporary setbacks, disappointments and frustrations we can encounter in life.

Obviously, this Christian way of reacting to adverse events is not a call to be complacent and passive. We have to exhaust all possible means to conform our affairs according to the will of God, but always within the framework of charity.

In those occasions, when we become helpless before an evil thing, let us intensify our prayers, our spirit of sacrifice, our virtues of patience and optimism. In those occasions, let us continue to do a lot of good, drowning evil with an abundance of good. These painful moments are privileged occasions to be intimate with Christ on the cross.

Let us clarify issues calmly and charitably, proclaiming the truth in season and out of season, as St. Paul once said. Let us see to it that we do not lose our peace and joy, and our capacity to love and to be merciful. We should have no enemies, since we have to love everybody, including our enemies, as Christ himself commanded us.