MANILA, April 16, 2014 – Stewardship would not be complete without pain and suffering, attesting to its true meaning. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas relayed this message to the Catholic faithful this Holy Week, noting the real cost of sacrifice made in the name of the God.
“Stewardship does not wait for the surplus. Stewardship must hurt. Stewardship must disturb us. Stewardship that does not hurt is nothing,” Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in his homily on Palm Sunday.
“The measure of true stewardship is not how much we give, but how much we keep. When we have learned to cheerfully keep nothing for ourselves, we have moved closer to the example of Jesus,” explained Villegas.
He also noted that the real essence of stewardship is seen in “leaving our zones of comfort and convenience.”
Humiliation and mockey
He urged the faithful to remember the humiliation and mockery experienced by Christ, adding that the unconditional care and forgiveness He showed His tormentors signified His love for His people.
“Anyone can face similar humiliation and shame, but what makes the humiliation of Jesus luminous in the dark is the immense love with which He responded to His tormentors,” Villegas said.
“No one has ever loved more than Jesus. No one can ever love us as much as Jesus has loved us,” he added.
The prelate noted that even if Christ was “treated like a criminal” by the people, He still “cured and healed, fed and consoled, forgave and gave peace.”
Jesus Christ, who “preached peace and love, blessed the children and raised the dead, cleansed lepers and made the crippled walk, was repaid with spit, mockery and [a] crown of thorns,” added Villegas.
“He welcomed everyone to His heart. He calmed the storms and drove out demons. He multiplied bread for the hungry crowd, He was poor among the poor, He was repaid with insults and nailed naked on the cross,” Villegas said.
The archbishop urged the faithful to imitate the ways and deeds of Christ, especially in forgiving those who have caused them pain and suffering.
“We shamed Him. We humiliated Him, but His generosity and dignity, His gentleness and compassion put us to shame instead,” Villegas said.
Villegas added: “Only love can sanctify. His generosity in pain is marvelous. His dignity in suffering is awesome.” (Jennifer M. Orillaza)