Christians even at times of test

I share with you our dear Bishop’s pastoral letter for the Diocese of Dumaguete concerning our current situation in the country now.

Dear Reverend Monsignori, Fathers, Religious, and Lay Brothers and Sisters:

The DIOCESE OF DUMAGUETE expresses profound concern over the recent alarming statements relative to the Priests, the Church, accounts from the Bible, and God himself. We articulate our sadness because the statements hit the core of our faith and have hurt us in one and many ways. We call on the community of the faithful believers: to stand united in our love for the Church and for God. Let us take this as an opportunity to renew our pledge and our utmost respect to the pillars of our faith: the Sacred Scriptures, the Tradition handed down to us by the Apostles, and the Magisterium of the Church.

We know that many are deeply troubled basically because their faith anchored only on God is tremendously shaken. We also know that many are painfully wrestling with high prices of basic commodities, rising unemployment rate, unresolved killings related with drugs. And, almost everyday, we become innocent witnesses of fake news that step the rights and dignity of many respectable individuals. We all share these same experiences and struggles.

There are those who become disappointed and are deeply wounded. We are like the Apostles who got confused and troubled when Jesus was taken to face the final battle of his life (ref. Mark 14:50). Today, we grapple with a situation that has slowly divided our sense of communion. In fact, many have learned to drone mean words even in ordinary circumstances. This is no longer reflective of our values and it creates a purely divisive atmosphere. If we allow this behaviour to pervade, sooner or later, we will come to realize that in the end, we will be at a loss…all of us. That is why, before that happens, let us make a careful and pro-active response.

Let it be known that the God of our faith is a God of wisdom and love whose generosity to his people, through Jesus Christ, abounds in everything. We love God so dearly and we are severely hurt that he is utterly disrespected. Faced by this challenge, however, we call on everyone to stay calm. Let us respond to this test equipped with our commitment to know, to love, to live, and to share our faith in Christ (DPA 2018 mission) who redeemed us through his Cross and resurrection.

Following the CBCP call, we have to be prudent in the management of this situation. Yes we are sad. Yes, in many ways, we are hurt. However, we are Christians and on that note, let us not assuage our hurt by hurting others who caused us our pain. Let us, instead, continue to serve the Church with renewed fervour heeding the call for us to become renewed servant- leaders for the new evangelization. Hence, on bended knees:

*let us pray for our country and our government leaders: that the light of Jesus may lead them in all their endeavours as to honour God in word and deed the way he deserves;

*that the challenges we face may not cause us to clash but make us reflect, change

if ever, and unite as people with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit;

*that Christian families may take an active role in rearing their kids and the young to be law-abiding and faithful to the Lord;

*that our love for God and the Church may take form in the service we render to the truly downtrodden and needy;

*that the poor may be comforted in all their needs and that we may see, through them,

Jesus forsaken and abandoned;

*that families of victims of killings may be consoled with the assurances of justice and concrete support;

*that all of us may always take refuge in prayer and meet God in the silence of our contemplation, and that, together we may grow spiritually mature as social individuals responsive to the needs of our time by organizing prayer groups, by seeking out the truth, and by enlightening others about that truth based on sound teachings.

Brothers and sisters in Christ in the DIOCESE OF DUMAGUETE, let us stay calm and focused in the midst of this volatile situation. It is a time for us to renew our faith in God and our love for the Church. That is our moral responsibility as Christians. Even if we are hurt, we have to maintain our Christian identity and pray more those who hurt us. Did not Jesus say: pray for those who persecute you? (ref. Matthew 5:44). Now is the time for us to live that command.

Finally, let us pray for peace and healing and for the resolution of our problems as a nation and as a community of the Lord. Let us always overcome the challenges that beset us by doing good as modern disciples of Jesus.

May the God of love and life generously bless us in every way.

Mary, mother of God, pray for us and lead us to Jesus always. Amen.