by Pastor Jonathan S. Ferriol

I love religion and boxing. And the aftermath of Manny Pacquiao’s stunning 6th round knockout from his arch rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, provided me an opportunity to address both. Well, it was actually Mommy D’s rant on tv and the subsequent chorus of responses by my fellow kababayan in the Philippines and here in the U.S that drove me to write a blog about it.

Basically, Mommy D and others who share her opinion blame Manny’s alleged departure from his Catholic faith that caused him to lose his crown to Marquez. She also blames this Protestant pastor for the troubles of Manny in the ring.

First of all, I have a great deal of respect for the woman who raised singlehandedly our Pambansang Kamao and his siblings. A good mother she is indeed! I also admire her zest for life and deep religiosity, which, obviously, she has passed on to her celebrated son.

But on the other hand, I also think that she is a victim of religious superstitions and myths. Yes, I think it was supertitious of her to argue that what floored Manny that fateful Saturday night was his departure from his boyhood religion for evangelicalism. It is also superstitious to blame Manny’s Bible reading and praying without the rosary that made him lose his “killer instincts ” (if ever he did actually lose them). And it is also pure myth to point to his decision to remove in his grotto the graven images, as the culprit for not seeing that vicious right from “El Dinamita.”

I don’t agree with her also that it was this Protestant pastor who brought this misfortune on Manny. I believe that this pastor meant good and probably, did something good to Manny (they claim that our Pambansang Kamao doesn’t live a decadent lifestyle anymore, unlike before!)

It wasn’t my first time to hear this convuluted notion actually. I also don’t know where my Catholic friends (if ever they believe it) got it. Whether it is taught to them by their priests (to strike fear on those who maybe trying to join other religious groups, maybe) or something they themselves come up with; that, I don’t know. But from my observation, it is quite a widespread belief among Catholics that when they move to or change their religion, something unfortunate would befall them. This is untrue and like I said, it is simply a superstition and a pure myth.

If you are like Pacman who is at the crossroads of his life and career, and seeking a more meaningful life, I strongly urge that you follow his example. Read the Bible and surrender your assumptions, prejudices or biases to God’s authoritative truth, like what he is doing apparently, at this period of his life. Don’t insist to follow your religious customs or traditions at the expense of your obedience to the truth of the Scriptures. Pacman lost his graven images and his rosary not because, he is superstitious but because he has started to see things better in the light of God’s words. And I hope and pray that his search for God and for His will would lead our hero in the ring to the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid anymore. Know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

So what caused the knockout of our champ? He said it right, he got “careless” and it was his lapse of judgment that sent him down the canvas. And that is something worth really remembering, whether you are one who makes your living in or out of the ring – don’t get careless! It is deadlier than superstition.

And to Mommy D, your son never forsook God, on the contrary, he is seeking God more – but this time, without the religious superstitions. For Manny, keep doing what you are doing right – in and out of the ring and the God who sees your heart, will lead you closer and closer to Him! God bless you!