CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday underscored the timeliness of the ongoing International Eucharistic Congress in inspiring Filipino delegates to live a Christian life in preparing for the upcoming elections in May.
Palma said part of the grace from the IEC is the discernment it gives Filipinos in choosing for the right candidates to vote for come election time.
“We believe in the grace of the event and to us, this event of the Eucharistic Congress will surely bring grace to all of us,” Palma said.
This is because, Palma said, the event gives emphasis on hope and part of the prayer is for those who will be elected to become good examples to their fellow Filipinos.
Palma said with hope is the challenge for everyone to be transformed and become the people expected of them as Christians.
“The presence of hope as Christians is certainly the goodness of the Lord and the goodness of things around us, but it is not hope when we rely solely and as if we do not give importance to what we can do,” Palma said.
“Hope involves making an effort so that the good things that we hope for shall be realized. It is not hope if we just cross our legs and wait for things to happen without doing the best we can,” he said further.
Bishop Mylo Vergara, chairman for IEC Communications Department, also said the Lenten Season, which will start on February 10, should be a time for Filipinos to reflect on their choices for the May polls.
“This should be a moment to do some soul searching, to do our own reflection and prayer, not only to look at our personal lives, our relationship not with just the members of our family but also with the members of the community and perhaps, our own identity as Filipinos before our country,” Vergara said.
“If we address basic issues about our lives, basic issues about family, and also our country, then this will make us discern whom to really vote to lead us,” he said.
Alongside this, Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) agreed with the Papal Legate Charles Maung Cardinal Bo on the need for a “third world war” against poverty and cruelty.
“We really have to fight poverty, corruption,” he said.
Vergara chairs the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media.
During the opening mass of the IEC at the Plaza Independencia over the weekend, Bo said, “This calls for a commitment to a world of justice. The Eucharist calls for a third world war against poverty, a third world war against a world that produces more weapons while more than half a billion don’t have enough food.”
Vergara clarified that the Cardinal was not talking about armed conflict but the urgency for a fight to alleviate the lives of the disadvantaged.
“It was a cry deep within for us to make sure we will live out our own mission and vocation,” he said.
In a press conference, Vergara said he was struck by Bo’s words of awakening.
Bo pointed out that thousands of children die every day from starvation and malnutrition, which he described as “mass genocide.”
The cardinal said the faithful can help uplift the lives of the poor children by living the Eucharist.
“This is a very real situation. It is happening in our country and elsewhere where rich become richer and poor becomes poorer. And so we want to make social justice realified,” Vergara said.
Vergara said Bo’s call was one of urgency and for people to prioritize helping and reaching out to the poor in response to the proclamation of gospel both in “word and witness.”
Fr. Jose Quilongquilong SJ, member of the IEC Theological Commission, said Bo’s homily focused on the Eucharist as the source and call of mission.
He said Bo underscored Eucharistic celebrations leading to Eucharistic commitments, such as mission, Eucharist and the poor and the Eucharist as celebration of unity and reconciliation.
Yesterday's reflections of the first talk in the IEC focused on proclaiming the word of God.
The talk, which centered on the theme, "Christ in you, Our Hope of Glory: A Pastoral Reflection on Colossians 1:27," was officiated by Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Trujillo in Peru.
Vidarte's pastoral reflection touched on living a life like St. Paul who fought for the diffusion of the Gospel despite sufferings and struggles. This was also in relation to yesterday's feast of St. Paul's conversion.
St. Paul who was originally called Saul was dedicated to the persecution of the early disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem.
In the narrative of the book of Acts, while Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem", the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light. Paul was struck blind, but after three days, his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God
"We must accept sufferings for the strength of the Church, for its firmness and its growth. Trials are necessary so that human beings may understand and believe in the Gospel," Vidarte said.
He said all Christians have the responsibility to proclaim the Word of God.
"It must reach everyone because if not, it has not reached its full realization," he said. (FREEMAN)