MANILA, May 5, 2015—Filipino Catholics have lauded the timeliness of Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for May, expressing optimism that these will rally all Christians worldwide, with the help of Mary, to be one with the less fortunate in a world becoming numbed to the pains of others.
“The Holy Father’s [universal] prayer intention is just what the world needs now, especially here in the Philippines where many suffer because of corruption and the culture of indifference,” said Fr. Joel Saballa of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Quoting John 12:26, the missionary invited all the faithful to step out of their comfort zones in order to look closely at the situation of their poor brothers and sisters, and do what they can for them.
Follow, serve Christ
The verse reads: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.”
According to Saballa, Christ is one with the poor, the sick, and the suffering, which makes it all the more imperative for those who call Jesus their Lord to care about these people, loving them unconditionally, helping them without counting the cost.
“Whenever we serve our brothers and sisters, especially the poor, the sick, and the suffering, it is really Christ we minister to,” the priest added.
For Professor Nestor Limqueco of the Company of St. Dominic (CSD), overcoming an indifferent society challenges all to respond to the needs of others, particularly those in the margins.
The culture of indifference, he explained, is very much rampant, and its mere presence is a wake-up call for the faithful to examine themselves and find ways to share the fruits of contemplation.
“My personal experience as a Catholic educator is to counteract the harmful influences of media on the youth. Secularism is so strong a force it makes young minds aloof and insensitive to the world in which they live, as well as to the plight of people among whom they live,” he added.
“We are also invited to proclaim the Joy of the Gospel amid an increasingly secularized culture. Culture must be evangelized so that the people will be sanctified. Today’s challenge is to evangelize the local culture,” Limqueco said, urging all to draw inspiration from Mother Mary, in whose honor the whole month is dedicated.
The Blessed Lady, he noted, is the first disciple of her Son, the first to receive the Word during the Annunciation, and first to bring the Good News during the Visitation.
Meanwhile, Br. Martin Francisco of the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of the Poor (BSMP), who serves Dumagat communities in the Sierra Madre, blamed the culture of indifference on the propensity of many to acquire more and the desire for physical comforts at the expense of their prayer life and relationship with the Lord.
“Most of us forget to see Christ in the faces of the poor, the sick, and the indigenous people,” he lamented.
Francisco believes this mounting secularization reminds the Church to prepare for the life to come, and to remember to turn to the Blessed Mary and pray her rosary in keeping with her requests in Fatima, Portugal.
“Jesus through Mary will surely keep our Christian nations and communities safe from lukewarm faith,” he added.
The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for May is: “That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbors who suffer, especially the sick and the poor”.
Moreover, his intention for evangelization is: “That Mary’s intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be open to proclaiming Jesus.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)