DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Nov. 22, 2014—For the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), no other image has captured the meaning of suffering more graphically and more effectively than that of Christ—helpless—on the Cross.
In his pastoral message for the upcoming “Year of the Poor” set to open on Nov. 23, Sunday, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan calls on the faithful, particularly those struggling in their lives, to look at the One Crucified—and rest assured they are in “good company”.
‘One with the poor’
“Behold Jesus, poor… Jesus hangs from His Cross stripped of His clothes, His dignity, His possessions, His power, His strength. He is fully one with the unwashed, the oppressed, the scorned, the powerless, the miserable, the outcaste. In the Year of the Poor, look into the eyes of the Crucified Lord. There is no experience richer,” he shares.
The prelate believes it is in gazing into the eyes of the Crucified Lord that the faithful encounter the love of the Resurrected Lord.
“Many prefer not to look. Many recoil at looking into the eyes of a man in deadly pain. Many balk at having to respond to love,” he laments.
According to him, these eyes are not of a defeated man who had been condemned for criminal insurrection, but those of an “unlikely King”, who in dealing death its death blow, “still looks into our eyes with challenge”.
“In his love is his call to the Kingdom of his Father, his Kingdom of justice, compassion, peace and life to the full,” Villegas explains.
The prelate assures the less fortunate that in those eyes they can feel His “suffering-with-you”.
“From his Cross, he walks with you through crowded alleys, stumbles on mud, recoils at the stench of unmoved sewerage. He bows to enter your makeshift home hobbled together from salvaged materials; it is for your family, but you share it perforce with rats and cockroaches, an oven in the hot season, a waterfall when rainy,” he says.
“On his Cross, he is with you—God with you. He has taken on your nakedness, your vulnerability, your hunger, your illness, your shame,” Villegas adds.
Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (SLP) invites the public to take part in a celebration which will mark the end of the “Year of the Laity” on Saturday, Nov. 22, 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Presentation of the Child Jesus Parish, corner F. Cruz St. and Aguirre Ave., Phase 3, BF Homes Parañaque City. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCPNews)