MANILA, Sept. 22, 2013—Society needs to change prevailing standards, values and relationships — something which can only happen through an encounter with Christ, says Lingayen–Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
“If you are touched by God, you change. Nobody remains the same after encountering God, nobody,” incoming Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Villegas said in a mass celebrated for the Catholic Book Center 25th anniversary last Friday.
Standards for behaving
In an age where people are more swayed to make popularity, money, power or even surveys their primary motivations, Villegas said, Christ presents a clear standard for behaving.
“We must change our standards because our standards should only be and always be Christ,” he added.
Villegas talked about ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ (WWJD) bracelets, popular among young people, and how it reminds them of a simple standard that can guide daily life.
“It is not a scapular, it is not a rosary, but it is religious because in that rubberized wrist band, our young people are being asked, ‘What would Jesus do?’” he explained.
Changed values, changed relationships
Villegas, who is also chair of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCE), said a change in values follows a change in standards.
“Values are our wealth and our only wealth, our only value should be Christ,” he said, saying an encounter with Jesus will “turn our values upside down.”
Eventually, Villegas explained, relationships closely linked to the first two – must also change.
“We must change relationships because in the kingdoms of God, there are no presidents or kings. In fact, there are no priest, nuns, bishops and popes. In the kingdom of God, we are only brothers and sisters,” he explained.
To be called a brother or a sister by a fellow man or woman is an honor, Villegas said, because it shows “we have become sons and daughters of God.”
While people encounter Jesus in a variety of ways, he said, a genuine meeting with God will leave undeniable marks on a person.
“If you are touched by fire, you burn. If you’re touched by water, you get wet. If you are hit by a hard object, you get swelling…Nobody remains the same after meeting God,” Villegas explained. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]