Inclusion, solidarity marks of ‘authentic’ Christianity— bishop

Inclusion, solidarity marks of ‘authentic’ Christianity— bishop

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DIOCESE OF LEGAZPI

MANILA—A Catholic bishop reminded everyone that to be an authentic Christian one needs to espouse a spirit of “inclusion and solidarity, not exclusion and inequality.”

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi on Sunday presided over a Mass to celebrate the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in the Carmel of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Monastery in Quezon City.

In his homily, he said that “we must work together so that the seeds of the Gospel, which preserves the values of authentic Christian humanism, could help develop a culture marked by faith and solidarity, capable of encouraging the development of a more just and believing society.”

Acknowledging the “direct attacks” on human life, the bishop said that the Catholic Church will not be deterred to uphold the dignity and sacredness of human life.

“It is the foundation of a moral vision of society,” he said. Emphasizing the uniqueness and worth of each person, the prelate admonished everyone to realize that “every human person is precious in God’s eyes.”

“Created in His image and likeness, human beings have, by their very existence and inherent value, worth and distinction,” the bishop furthered.

He also explained that because the Word of God became human in all things except sin, it is important for the Church to care for all life as this has been sanctified by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the very heart of Mother Church; it cannot but affect her at the very core of her faith and must engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the world,” Baylon said.

He also said that the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is disregarded nowadays. Instead of using it as a guiding principle to “safeguard the value of human life, ”it is not heeded and is neglected.

“Who are often the victims of the war on drugs, for example, but the poor, the children and those who cannot defend themselves…while the big drug dealers who have the audacity to bring in [P6 Billion] worth of shabu into our country remain scot free?” the bishop asked.

However, the bishop said that at some point, society has been contributing to the perpetuation of these unjust practices.

“Let us remember and humbly acknowledge that we too are part of this. Each of us is, as it were, a carrier of this cancer that is affecting and afflicting our society today,” the bishop added.

Speaking to the devotees, the bishop recommended three things which can help make society uphold life and nurture a spirit of communion.

He said that families have important roles in cultivating a culture of life, passing on faith to the children, teaching them prayers and telling them about the God of “life and love.”

He also said that parishes, in order to be truly a communion of communities, must implement pastoral activities that promotes Christian brotherhood.

“We are called to build and foster a communion that heals, promotes and reinforces interpersonal bonds. This brings about respect for others, healing wounds of sin and division, building bridges not walls and strengthening relationships that will help us bear one another’s burdens in love.”

He also said that culture must also be evangelized. As an example, he said that the values like “pakikisama, bayanihan and utang na loob” must not be tools for corruption, injustice, falsehood and select privileges.

Exhorting everyone to build a society that fosters inclusion and solidarity, Baylon said that “there will be times when we shall be called to stand witness to justice, human rights—and stand we must.”

“There will be moments for mass action and public outcry when the situation demands these—and this call we must heed,” he added.

Echoing St. Therese of the Child Jesus, known for doing the simplest of things with extraordinary love, he said that “we need not always do extraordinary things in order to do God’s will at this time of great challenge to us as a nation.”

“Every day is an opportunity to become God’s family where respect for life is upheld, human rights are defended and each one is provided the chance to do good or do better,” the bishop said. CBCPNews