TAKING THE PUNCH
By Mark Raygan E. Garcia, Director, Office of Information and Publications
(Delivered during the All-Organizations University Christian Life Emphasis Week Celebration.)
When Manny Pacquiao lost to Manuel Marquez, Facebook was flooded with all sorts of wall posts. There were criticisms. There were praises. There were those that hinted at the match being a mistake in itself. There were many whose comments sounded close to a eulogy. And, of course, a good number were after the reaction of Nanay Dionesia.
Without tackling the details of the fight, the greater question lies: What did Manny feel after losing? Or, simply, what did he feel after the fight (period) ?
I rephrased the question because in the eyes of the judges, Manny lost the fight. However, In the eyes of the public, the Filipinos, his fans, friends and family, he was their winner. Tabulations may not have been to his favor, but the strong connection that Manny has successfully established with the Filipino people made him more than a victor. That explains why even if the scorecards favored Marquez, Manny remained a hero to many. He was more than a boxer. He became a part of their lives.
Don’t misconstrue me for a fan. I’m not. But there was something about what Manny did after the fight that held him up the pedestal. His character was admirable: He congratulated Marquez. He admitted to his own faults. He took in punches.
To many, a punch in boxing is a hit on any part. I will not debate with you on that. In fact, you are right. And logically, since it is a hit, it causes pain. In boxing, too many punches either cause a knockout or a loss. No boxer wants to receive a punch. Everybody wants to give one to an opponent.
But that is boxing.
In real life, in the Christian context, taking in a punch – getting hurt, in short – is not necessarily a show of weakness. Neither is it automatically a show of strength. But that punch is a process that reveals our dreams, our aspirations, our ambitions in life, our heart’s desires. It is when we feel it that we are reminded of the what and the who that matter to our lives.
Like boxing, when we feel a punch on our face, we realize it’s to our disadvantage. Among boxers, the more they get hit, the more they fear of losing and the harder they work towards regaining control of the match. But while a punch is painful, it builds us up into individuals of character, competence and faith. It allows us to ponder on things that went wrong, on how we could have done them better, on what else could be done.
Of course, I am not suggesting that you punch your seatmates right now or let people get away when they harm you just to drive the point. Bottom-line: we have to know how to take in punches not only in consideration of that very moment when we feel the pain, but more importantly in relation to the days ahead.
The theme reminds us that we are more than victors in Christ. Indeed, we are.
Usually, when the events that unfold in our lives do not please us, we lose faith. We place a capital “L” on our foreheads and brand ourselves “LOSERS”. We get mad. We pass the blame on to people. We question God. We dwell on our self-assessed goodness. There is nothing wrong in recognizing a problem, in ascertaining the sorry state that we are in. It is imperative in healing to acknowledge that the natural consequence can be pain or hurt. But there is something greatly problematic when we don't do anything about it.
“More than Victors in Christ” is double-edged.
First, it is reassurance of God’s greatness, care and love for us. That no matter how greatly a tsunami or a typhoon damages us physically and psycho-emotionally, He is always there to see after our needs. Our relationship with Him is, however, blurred when we desire for instant solutions, when we want the easy way all the time. This exists among organizations: When projects fail despite starting all preparatory meetings with a prayer, we doubt whether God was really on our side. This, instead of rising above our doubts and finding ourselves more trusted with a heavier challenge of finding that golden needle of opportunity in the haystack.
Second, the theme poses a continuing “faith” challenge. God entrusts us with a greater responsibility. The more we are relied upon, the more we are trusted. It is human nature for us to escape from additional work. Partly, because we are afraid of not being able to do the job well. Partly, because we simply want a lighter load. Partly, because we are downright lazy.
God looks at us as more than victors; we are His children. We are not out to win a game for Him, but we are out to do what is right and inspire others to do the same. God invests in us – as a father would in his children – an experience that will ultimately prepare us for an inheritance of eternal life. And come with this are challenges that purposely sway us out of the straight path, in order that we may value the journey to a better life.
Let me end by admitting to you that after two years, I have started to hear mass again just this morning. I am a Catholic by religion but Christian by faith. I’ve spent all my education years in Silliman. And through friends and the organizations that I joined in (the Weekly Sillimanian, Corps of Campus Ambassadors and the Debate Society which I founded), I have come to appreciate the Christian faith lived out not only in church but throughout the campus’ 62-hectare stretch.
Friends, remember that being victors does not necessarily require victory. Somehow, it is in the acceptance of defeat that we become victors. It is in the understanding of ourselves – of our individual strengths and weaknesses – in relation to our role in the greater scheme of things that we become victors