TAGBILARAN City, Bohol, July 31, 2015—It is said that a picture paints a thousand words, succeeding where words often fail.
With this in mind, the religious men and women of the Philippines have decided to “visualize” the twin celebrations of the Years of the Poor and of Consecrated Life by coming out with an icon that tries to capture what it means to be poor for God.
‘Kamiseta ni Kristo’
“Written” by Recollect brother Fray Jaazeal “Tagoy” Jakosalem, in December 2014, just in time for the Pope’s visit, “Jesus of the Poor” depicts the Son of God in “kamiseta,” the everyday shirt regular Filipino males wear.
Holding an open Bible with the text “Do Justice, Love Kindness” (Micah 6:8), Christ seems to direct the viewer’s gaze to His heart on fire out of love for all.
Life, hope, love
Jakosalem explained this detail has been inspired by Pope Francis, part of whose November 2014 letter on the Year of Consecrated Life, reads: “You will find life by giving life, hope by giving hope, love by giving love.”
Right below Jesus are people—religious and lay collaborators— standing closely arm in arm (“kapit-bisig”), who together embody the “spirit of communion.”
According to Jakosalem, the small figures also seek to reflect the continuing prophetic work and mission of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) by “living poor, with the poor, and for the poor.”
In the same papal document, the Holy Father reminds consecrated men and women that they are “called to true synergy with all other vocations in the Church, beginning with priests and the lay faithful, in order to ‘spread the spirituality of communion,’ first of all in their internal life and then in the ecclesial community, and even beyond its boundaries.”
The “kariton” (pushcart) symbolizes the life and the struggles of the poor whom the religious, as modern prophets, are called to serve.
Prophets for poor
In his letter, Pope Francis tells the world’s religious, “Prophets tend to be on the side of the poor and the powerless, for they know that God himself is on their side.”
Moreover, the “kubo” chapel embodies the faith of the Filipino, while the encircled objects on each corner highlight the various transformative advocacies of the local religious: care for the environment, promotion of peace and justice, defence of human rights, and universal education.
The Argentine pontiff explains, “Only by such concern for the needs of the world, and by docility to the promptings of the Spirit, will this Year of Consecrated Life become an authentic kairos, a time rich in God’s grace, a time of transformation.”
Defying the rules of traditional icon-writing, Jakosalem has made his work more Filipino by adding a baybayin motif.
On left side of picture is the Tagalog word “kalinga” (compassion), and on the right is the Cebuano “kalipay” (joy), which are the central themes of the Year of the Poor and the Year of Consecrated Life, respectively.
“This year is dedicated to committing ourselves more firmly to our vision of becoming truly a Church of the Poor. The new evangelization is also a powerful call from the Lord to follow in His footsteps to be evangelically poor,” shared Jakosalem, citing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s pastoral exhortation on the era of New Evangelization.
Reflecting on what he calls the “beauty of consecration,” and the “joy of bringing God’s consolation to all,” Pope Francis prays that the year be an “occasion for bearing vigorous and joyful witness before the world to the holiness and vitality present in so many of those called to follow Jesus in the consecrated life.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)