By Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM

[Below is a portion of today's Office of Readings - the prayer which nuns and monks inside their monasteries pray at the middle of the night. But it can be also read by anyone at anytime of the day. This is taken from the prophet Ezekiel 34: 1-6. It is the same image you find in the New Testament reading on the Good Shepherd Sunday (John 10: 11-14). When one reads it, you cannot help but think about the our present "shepherds". All the more we need a new one.]

"Shepherds, the Lord says this: Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock, yet you have fed on milk, you have dressed yourselves in wool, you have sacrificed the fattest sheep, but failed to feed the flock. You have failed to make weak sheep strong, or to care for the sick ones, or bandage the wounded ones. You have failed to bring back strays or look for the lost. On the contrary, you have ruled them cruelly and violently. For lack of a shepherd they have scattered, to become the prey of any wild animal; they have scattered far. My flock is straying this way and that, on mountains and on high hills; my flock has been scattered all over the country; no one bothers about them and no one looks for them."

Tomorrow is September 21, 49 years after the declaration of Martial Law. How many lives lost, opportunities missed, people tortured, debts incurred. These are not lies. These are facts. And how many millions were stashed away from the country's resources which the Marcoses and their allies are still enjoying now. We are still paying for those foreign debts until now. People were lining up for rice, hungry and not fed then. I knew it because I was with my father. He was teaching the whole day and we had to line up on Saturdays to feed his big family -- the get 5 kilos of yellow corn at the end of the line. These are not lies. These are proven facts. Shepherds, feeding on people's milk, dressing on people's wool, not feeding the flock but instead killing their fastest sheep.

These same millions are now used to peddle new lies, to change history, to go back to power. The old bad shepherds coalesce with new ones as they continue to ravage the people.

They leave the weak and sick sheep untended. They did not bondage their wounds. They have ruled them violently and cruelly. They have been scattered and left to their preys.

Name it you have it --- killing of poor drug addicts but letting the big drug lords go free; silencing of the opposition and the approval of the Anti-Terrorism Law; incompetent and harsh handling of the pandemic and corrupt use of the pandemic money. Now as before, they are raking millions again to maintain themselves in power. And the list continues. Name it you have it.

All the more, the people of Israel long for the good shepherd. Unlike the ones that we now have.

Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM
St. John's University
New York