MANILA, Jan. 14, 2012— It is unacceptable to evangelize without helping those who are suffering and in need, a ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said.
To not be concerned with life’s temporal problems is going against the Gospel teaching of helping the needy, Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his homily during the launching of the ‘Year of Mission’ on Saturday.
“Every missionary must reach out, proclaim, teach, baptize, pray and love. But a missionary must be helpful all the time regardless of convictions, regardless of faith, regardless of culture,” Villegas said.
“Helping hands, meaning to say we embrace all the tears, the joys, the successes, the defeats, the discouragements, the frustrations of humanity. Nothing that is human can be alien to the church. Because the Lord came from heaven in order to embrace fully our humanity,” he said.
Hundreds of faithful, mostly young people, graced the launching of the “Year of Pontifical Mission Society” held at the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Pasay City.
It was declared by the CBCP this year to help Catholics deepen their relationship with God and strengthen their commitment to sharing faith with others.
In his sermon, the Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop stressed the need for church leaders to always be engaged in “total development,” saying that the new name of evangelization is “human development.”
“We are not only proclaiming salvation for the soul but it is the salvation of body and soul, of total human development, of total human liberation,” said Villegas.
The prelate also reminded people that praying is not enough, adding that the original vocation of every baptized person is holiness.
“First and foremost in our accepting of the mission of the church we must make sure that we carry holiness of life,” said Villegas.
“Holiness of life does not mean praying all the time. Holiness of light does not mean staying in the church all the time. Holiness of life means loving Lord Jesus and living like Jesus.”
“Because at the sunset of our lives, if the only thing we can say is that I prayed a lot we might have difficulty entering heaven because what’s important in praying is that we love very much,” he added.
He also recalled that even the late Pope Paul VI, in addressing the young people, encouraged them to be saints.
“Do not be afraid to be holy…Do not be afraid to be unique among others. Be holy even if you see sin around you. Be holy even if you see compromise with evil around you,” he said.
Villegas also chairs the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE).
According to him, the Church is a missionary and everyone is called do the same.
“When we speak of the Church, that includes you. The missionaries are all of us because we are the Church that is why even if you are children, even if you are young, you are already missionaries in your own way because you are Church,” he said.
“We pray not only for more missionaries but holy, dedicated missionaries. But my dear young people, the missionaries are not outside, the missionaries are you,” Villegas said. [Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews]