Friday, February 28, 2014


Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our societies are experiencing, in an unprecedented way, processes of mutual interdependence and interaction on the global level. While not lacking problematic or negative elements, these processes are aimed at improving the living conditions of the human family, not only economically, but politically and culturally as well. Each individual is a part of humanity and, with the entire family of peoples, shares the hope of a better future. This consideration inspired the theme I have chosen for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year: Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World.

In our changing world, the growing phenomenon of human mobility emerges, to use the words of Pope Benedict XVI, as a “sign of the times” (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Migrants and Refugees). While it is true that migrations often reveal failures and shortcomings on the part of States and the international community, they also point to the aspiration of humanity to enjoy a unity marked by respect for differences, by attitudes of acceptance and hospitality which enable an equitable sharing of the world’s goods, and by the protection and the advancement of the dignity and centrality of each human being.

From the Christian standpoint, the reality of migration, like other human realities, points to the tension between the beauty of creation, marked by Grace and the Redemption, and the mystery of sin. Solidarity, acceptance, and signs of fraternity and understanding exist side by side with rejection, discrimination, trafficking and exploitation, suffering and death. Particularly disturbing are those situations where migration is not only involuntary, but actually set in motion by various forms of human trafficking and enslavement. Nowadays, “slave labour” is common coin! Yet despite the problems, risks and difficulties to be faced, great numbers of migrants and refugees continue to be inspired by confidence and hope; in their hearts they long for a better future, not only for themselves but for their families and those closest to them.

What is involved in the creation of “a better world”? The expression does not allude naively to abstract notions or unattainable ideals; rather, it aims at an authentic and integral development, at efforts to provide dignified living conditions for everyone, at finding just responses to the needs of individuals and families, and at ensuring that God’s gift of creation is respected, safeguarded and cultivated. The Venerable Paul VI described the aspirations of people today in this way: “to secure a sure food supply, cures for diseases and steady employment… to exercise greater personal responsibility; to do more, to learn more, and have more, in order to be more” (Populorum Progressio, 6).

Our hearts do desire something “more”. Beyond greater knowledge or possessions, they want to “be” more. Development cannot be reduced to economic growth alone, often attained without a thought for the poor and the vulnerable. A better world will come about only if attention is first paid to individuals; if human promotion is integral, taking account of every dimension of the person, including the spiritual; if no one is neglected, including the poor, the sick, prisoners, the needy and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:31-46); if we can prove capable of leaving behind a throwaway culture and embracing one of encounter and acceptance.

Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more. The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history. As the Church accompanies migrants and refugees on their journey, she seeks to understand the causes of migration, but she also works to overcome its negative effects, and to maximize its positive influence on the communities of origin, transit and destination.

While encouraging the development of a better world, we cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms. Violence, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization, restrictive approaches to fundamental freedoms, whether of individuals or of groups: these are some of the chief elements of poverty which need to be overcome. Often these are precisely the elements which mark migratory movements, thus linking migration to poverty. Fleeing from situations of extreme poverty or persecution in the hope of a better future, or simply to save their own lives, millions of persons choose to migrate. Despite their hopes and expectations, they often encounter mistrust, rejection and exclusion, to say nothing of tragedies and disasters which offend their human dignity.

The reality of migration, given its new dimensions in our age of globalization, needs to be approached and managed in a new, equitable and effective manner; more than anything, this calls for international cooperation and a spirit of profound solidarity and compassion. Cooperation at different levels is critical, including the broad adoption of policies and rules aimed at protecting and promoting the human person. Pope Benedict XVI sketched the parameters of such policies, stating that they “should set out from close collaboration between the migrants’ countries of origin and their countries of destination; they should be accompanied by adequate international norms able to coordinate different legislative systems with a view to safeguarding the needs and rights of individual migrants and their families, and at the same time, those of the host countries” (Caritas in Veritate, 62). Working together for a better world requires that countries help one another, in a spirit of willingness and trust, without raising insurmountable barriers. A good synergy can be a source of encouragement to government leaders as they confront socioeconomic imbalances and an unregulated globalization, which are among some of the causes of migration movements in which individuals are more victims than protagonists. No country can singlehandedly face the difficulties associated with this phenomenon, which is now so widespread that it affects every continent in the twofold movement of immigration and emigration.

It must also be emphasized that such cooperation begins with the efforts of each country to create better economic and social conditions at home, so that emigration will not be the only option left for those who seek peace, justice, security and full respect of their human dignity. The creation of opportunities for employment in the local economies will also avoid the separation of families and ensure that individuals and groups enjoy conditions of stability and serenity.

Finally, in considering the situation of migrants and refugees, I would point to yet another element in building a better world, namely, the elimination of prejudices and presuppositions in the approach to migration. Not infrequently, the arrival of migrants, displaced persons, asylum-seekers and refugees gives rise to suspicion and hostility. There is a fear that society will become less secure, that identity and culture will be lost, that competition for jobs will become stiffer and even that criminal activity will increase. The communications media have a role of great responsibility in this regard: it is up to them, in fact, to break down stereotypes and to offer correct information in reporting the errors of a few as well as the honesty, rectitude and goodness of the majority. A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world. The communications media are themselves called to embrace this “conversion of attitudes” and to promote this change in the way migrants and refugees are treated.

I think of how even the Holy Family of Nazareth experienced initial rejection: Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk2:7). Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew what it meant to leave their own country and become migrants: threatened by Herod’s lust for power, they were forced to take flight and seek refuge in Egypt (cf. Mt 2:13-14). But the maternal heart of Mary and the compassionate heart of Joseph, the Protector of the Holy Family, never doubted that God would always be with them. Through their intercession, may that same firm certainty dwell in the heart of every migrant and refugee.

The Church, responding to Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations”, is called to be the People of God which embraces all peoples and brings to them the proclamation of the Gospel, for the face of each person bears the mark of the face of Christ! Here we find the deepest foundation of the dignity of the human person, which must always be respected and safeguarded. It is less the criteria of efficiency, productivity, social class, or ethnic or religious belonging which ground that personal dignity, so much as the fact of being created in God’s own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26-27) and, even more so, being children of God. Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved. They are an occasion that Providence gives us to help build a more just society, a more perfect democracy, a more united country, a more fraternal world and a more open and evangelical Christian community. Migration can offer possibilities for a new evangelization, open vistas for the growth of a new humanity foreshadowed in the paschal mystery: a humanity for which every foreign country is a homeland and every homeland is a foreign country.

Dear migrants and refugees! Never lose the hope that you too are facing a more secure future, that on your journey you will encounter an outstretched hand, and that you can experience fraternal solidarity and the warmth of friendship! To all of you, and to those who have devoted their lives and their efforts to helping you, I give the assurance of my prayers and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 5 August 2013

Pope Francis

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Application Form for Media Ministry

Download the Media Ministry application form here.  Fax back this form at 6402923 or email at

God bless!


February 14, 2014




Dear Reverend Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,


Media Ministry orientation is definite must for those who want to write, take pictures, and use media for our schools, parishes, ministries, and organizations. 

We need to get a clearer picture of the media ministry and how we can best use the latest social networking sites for evangelization.  This seminar for the heads of the media ministry and those who are active writers and updaters of publications, websites, and social networking sites will be held on February 22, 2014, Saturday, 8 – 11 a.m. at the Sto. Rosario de Pasig Formation Center at Ortigas Ave. Ext, Rosario, Pasig City.

If this is the first meeting for your ministers, shall be deputized as Church Reporters and will be given media IDs bearing the logo of Daloy (the official publication of the Diocese of Pasig), and TV Maria. 

Please Fax the application form bearing the details of your recommended Media coordinators at tel. no. 640-2923.  For other inquiries please contact me or Rhea at 6410728 or email us at

In Christ and Mary,

FR. JOSELITO JOPSON, Ministry coordinator

+MYLO HUBERT VERGARA, D.D. Bishop of Pasig

Monday, February 17, 2014

Homiletic Tips for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary time, A

by Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, D.D.

Who is the person in your life whom you need to forgive?  Can you ask The Lord the grace to reconcile with that person? 

1) Rdg from Leviticus : Holiness means not bearing hatred and vengeance but loving our neighbor as ourselves;

2) Resp Psalm: We are called to forgive because God is compassion and love; 

3) Rdg from Corinthians: St. Paul tells us that we should not hurt or destroy each other because we are God's temple; 

4) Gospel of Matthew: Jesus challenges us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us because by doing so we become perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect; 

5) A final thought:  Forgiveness is both a decision and grace.  It is a decision we should will to do now to find peace and experience healing. It is grace since we need to pray to God that we may decide to forgive those who hurt us the most. This was very real in the first word of Jesus when hung on the cross: 'Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing'.  He made a decision to forgive and prayed for this grace from his Father.

Advise to preachers: 4 C's of a good homily: clear, concise, credible and creative.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Contact us!

For all your inquiries, we have the emails of the proper offices by which you may write directly to them. 

Write to the following:

1.      Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara –
2.      Chancery, for all diocesan concerns -
3.      For donations and financial inquiries, treasury, accounting, properties, cemetery  –
4.      For canonical inquiries –
5.      For media and public affairs inquiries –
6.      For vocation and youth affairs –
7.      For schools in the diocese of Pasig –
8.      Laity concerns /BEC / diocesan pastoral councils -
9.      Social services / social concerns / Caritas Pasig –

Homiletic Tips for 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God's law is sacred

by Bishop Mylo Vergara

God's law is sacred. In following his law and abiding by his commandments, we show our love for him--

1) Rdg from Ecclesiasticus: God's wisdom calls us to keep His commandments; 

2) Resp Psalm: The psalmist tells us that happiness is found in following God's law; 

3) Rdg from Corinthians: St. Paul teaches the hidden wisdom of God in Jesus Christ; 

4) Gospel of Matthew: To be wise means to go beyond the letter of the law, to abide by the spirit of the law with love.  This means to follow God's commandment not to sin.  So whether it is the sin of murder, anger, lust or adultery, what matters is our deep love for God and our desire not to offend him. Why is it that most of us have 'lost the sense of sin' (Blessed John Paul II)?  Remember: "Sin is like circles in the water when water is thrown into it; one produces another--when anger was in Cain's heart, murder was not far off." (Philip Henry); 

5)  A final thought: Some would joke that there is an 11th commandment--'Thou shalt not get caught'. This just reveals that there are people who would find ways and means to get around any law. But we are taught to be law abiding citizens in this earth. However, we are citizens of the kingdom of God. Shouldn't we be  law and love abiding citizens of God's kingdom here on earth?

Advise to preachers: Three characteristics of a good homily: simple, spontaneous and sincere.

An Introduction to John Paul II’s Christifidelis Laici

Download Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara's reflections on the document Christfidelis Laici in observance of the Year of the Laity

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Follow and place all announcements on our Twitter account!

To all organizations, parishes, schools, and ministries in the Diocese of Pasig: 

Follow us at Twitter at 


You can also place your announcements and news at


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Saturday, February 8, 2014


Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On the occasion of the Twenty-second World Day of the Sick, whose theme this year is Faith and Charity: “We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another” (1 Jn 3:16), I turn in a special way to the sick and all those who provide them with assistance and care. The Church recognizes in you, the sick, a special presence of the suffering Christ. It is true. At the side of – and indeed within – our suffering, is the suffering of Christ; he bears its burden with us and he reveals its meaning. When the Son of God mounted the cross, he destroyed the solitude of suffering and illuminated its darkness. We thus find ourselves before the mystery of God’s love for us, which gives us hope and courage: hope, because in the plan of God’s love even the night of pain yields to the light of Easter, and courage, which enables us to confront every hardship in his company, in union with him.

2. The incarnate Son of God did not remove illness and suffering from human experience but by taking them upon himself he transformed them and gave them new meaning. New meaning because they no longer have the last word which, instead, is new and abundant life; transformed them, because in union with Christ they need no longer be negative but positive. Jesus is the way, and with his Spirit we can follow him. Just as the Father gave us the Son out of love, and the Son gave himself to us out of the same love, so we too can love others as God has loved us, giving our lives for one another. Faith in God becomes goodness, faith in the crucified Christ becomes the strength to love to the end, even our enemies. The proof of authentic faith in Christ is self-giving and the spreading of love for our neighbours, especially for those who do not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalized.

3. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation we are called to conform ourselves to Christ, who is the Good Samaritan for all who suffer. “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jn 3:16). When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world. When generous devotion to others becomes the hallmark of our actions, we give way to the Heart of Christ and bask in its warmth, and thus contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom.

4. To grow in tender love, and a respectful and sensitive charity, we have a sure Christian model to contemplate: Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, who is always attentive to the voice of God and the needs and troubles of her children. Mary, impelled by God’s mercy which took flesh within her, selflessly hastened from Galilee to Judea to find and help her kinswoman Elizabeth. She interceded with her Son at the wedding feast of Cana when she saw that there was a shortage of wine. She bore in her heart, throughout the pilgrimage of her life, the words of the elderly Simeon who foretold that a sword would pierce her soul, and with persevering strength she stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus. She knows the way, and for this reason she is the Mother of all of the sick and suffering. To her we can turn with confidence and filial devotion, certain that she will help us, support us and not abandon us. She is the Mother of the crucified and risen Christ: she stands beside our crosses and she accompanies us on the journey towards the resurrection and the fullness of life.

5. Saint John, the disciple who stood with Mary beneath the cross, brings us to the sources of faith and charity, to the heart of the God who “is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). He reminds us that we cannot love God if we do not love our brothers and sisters. Those who stand with Mary beneath the cross learn to love as Jesus does. The cross is “the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us… the cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help” (Way of the Cross with Young People, Rio de Janeiro, 26 July 2013).
I entrust this Twenty-second World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Mary. I ask her to help the sick to bear their sufferings in fellowship with Jesus Christ and to support all those who care for them. To all the ill, and to all the health-care workers and volunteers who assist them, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 6 December 2013


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Homiletic Tips for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A

By Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, D.D.

We are called to let the light of Christ shine by making his presence felt  in the world by our words and actions:

1)Rdg from Isaiah: God through the prophet tells the people that their light will shine if they share their bread to the hungry, shelter the poor who are homeless and clothe the naked; 

2) Resp Psalm: The psalmist says that the good man is a light in the darkness for the upright; 

3) Rdg from Corinthians: St. Paul testifies that his vocation and mission to the community comes from the light of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God; 

4) Gospel of Matthew: Discipleship means being salt of the earth and light of the world.  Has your being Christian brought the spiritual flavor of Jesus to others? Has the light of Christ in you illuminated the world darkened by sin?; 

5) A final thought:  Recall the people who have inspired us because they have become authentic witnesses of Christ; they have lighted our way so that we can become good human beings and Christians; through them, we have also become a particle of light for others to find the way to Jesus.

Advise to preachers: Your homily must enlighten and not obscure. Preach with simplicity and depth.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Update on Yolanda contributions

2nd Collection (Nov.17, 2013)
Victims of Typhoon Yolanda
as of Jan. 7, 2014
GRAND TOTAL     1,940,424.73
Holy Family           300,907.00
Sta. Rosa de Lima           128,617.75
San Roque           112,176.00
Sta. Clara de Montefalco             94,954.20
Sto. Rosario             68,834.85
Immaculate Conception  Cathedral             51,759.70
Sto. Niño de Pasig             47,262.00
St. John the Baptist             43,946.00
Maria, Reyna ng mga Apostoles             41,320.00
Sta. Lucia             44,245.00
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary             38,678.00
San Antonio Abad             41,469.50
Sto. Tomas de Villanueva             37,086.50
San Guillermo             35,867.00
San Pedro Calungsod Chapel             34,998.50
St. Michael Chaplaincy             29,140.00
St. Jude Thaddeus             28,580.00
Ina ng mga Dukha             27,516.75
St. Anne             24,950.00
St. Joseph             20,100.00
Sagrada Familia             17,934.30
Sto. Niño de Taguig             17,039.00
San Agustin             15,624.00
Most. Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara             15,000.00
Our Mother of Perpetual Help             12,850.75
St. Michael Parish             12,715.50
Immaculate Conception Karangalan             12,389.25
San Sebastian             11,431.50
THE MEDICAL CITY             10,000.00
Sta. Martha                8,318.45
San Vicente Ferrer Quasi Parish                5,750.25
St. Ignatius                4,400.00
St. Peter the Fisher man                3,028.00
Clergy love offering for Yolanda victims DEC 10, 2013           132,272.00
Sto. Niño Catholic School             50,000.00
Clergy Budget for Christmas Party             50,000.00
Mass Collection at Ynares             34,292.00
DONORS c/o Caritas Pasig             33,282.20
CBC BATCH 73             25,000.00
ROY/EDITH CARINO             20,000.00
Budget for Clergy Dinner for the Mo. of Nov. 2013             15,833.33
EMHC- Sto. Niño Parish             15,000.00
Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parochial School             15,000.00
Jeff/Linda Lue             13,120.20
Carmelita Dolfi             12,347.00
Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus             10,458.00
Asuncion Family             10,000.00
Marietta Nadal             10,000.00
ICC PARISHIONERS             10,000.00
JOEL/INA BARADAS             10,000.00
Torres Arthur/ Ma. Caridad             10,000.00
Curia Personnel Budget for Christmas Party             10,000.00
Flying Ducks Riders c/o Sta. Martha                7,200.00
Sto. Nino Parochial School                6,200.00
ALFONSO/ TIN AGUILAR                5,000.00
Mass Offering- Taguig City Hall                4,750.25
Catechetical Ministry                4,024.50
Josie Lao c/o San Agustin Parish                3,400.00
Zenaida Nuguia                3,000.00
Mr. & Mrs. Eduardo Chu c/o San Agustin Parish                3,000.00
Rev. Fr. Rizalino Jose                2,402.00
LCM Sto. Niño Pasig                2,000.00
Sumilang Sub Parish                1,653.50
Tess Carmonas & Friends c/o Sta. Martha Parish                1,500.00
Kapitbahayan                1,000.00
Cel & Michael Del Rosario                1,000.00
Conrad & Belen Ferrer                1,000.00
Melendrez Family                1,000.00
Rodelio Jose                1,000.00
Bebong Lubangco                1,000.00
Becky Labre                1,000.00
Moises Torres                1,000.00
Gregorio Mercado                   600.00
Ester Abelido                   500.00
Beneficiaries          1,934,224.73
 BISHOP JOSE ROMEO LAZO  BISHOP OF ANTIQUE                 122,222.22
 BISHOP JOSE PALMA  BISHOP OF CEBU                 122,222.23
 BISHOP FILOMENO BACTOL  BISHOP OF NAVAL                 122,222.22
 BISHOP JOSE BANTOLO  BISHOP OF MASBATE                 122,222.22
 BISHOP EDGARDO JUANICH  BISHOP OF TAYTAY                 289,334.59
 BISHOP JOHN DU  BISHOP OF PALO                 200,000.00
 TOTAL AMOUNT COLLECTED      1,940,424.73
 UNALLOCATED AMOUNT             6,200.00

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

To bring glad tidings to the poor (Luke 4:18)

Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
The Joy of the Gospel and the Church of the Poor
As the new Year of the Laity unfolds, we recall Pope Francis’ compelling invitation to the joy of the Gospel and the joy of Evangelization1. We are invited to turn away from our sadness, our discouragement, and our despair at the manner in which life for us is unfolding, and return to joy. We all yearn for joy. We work for joy. Yet, in its quest we have often failed to find it. We are bundles of shattered dreams; or we are showcases of fulfilled dreams, which leave us empty. We have worked hard, but are frustrated; we have struggled, but feel the weight of disappointment. We are victims of calamities, natural or man-made, or victims of our own coldness in the face of overwhelming suffering.
Pope Francis invites us to return to the joy that comes from the Gospel and from sharing the Gospel. That is a joy that comes neither from a covetous heart nor from the frivolous pursuit of pleasures, nor from a blunted conscience. It comes rather first and foremost from a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ. This is joy real and deeply personal in a social world. Consequently, it is a joy which needs urgently to be shared today in all its fullness, challenge and joy – no matter the danger, no matter the ridicule, no matter the dying. This is the joy of evangelization: the joy of sharing Jesus Christ. It is a joy that cannot be contained, cannot be tamed, cannot be restrained, cannot be boxed in; it is signed with the foolishness of the Cross and rooted in the splendor of the Resurrection.
Return to Jesus
Crucial in the return to joy, is the return to Jesus Christ. Catholic country as we may be, we may have come to think that joy is suppressed by Jesus and his imperatives, and so have begun to pursue joy by walking away from him in fashionable secular modernity. Pope Francis is inviting us to turn around, and return to Jesus, who is not just a cold concept, not just an old memory, not just a set of ethical demands, but the God who encounters us from the Cross, gazes into our hearts with love, accepts us unconditionally, and moves us profoundly. It is love that calls forth our response of love. “If in love you have done this for me, Lord, what have I done for you? What am I doing for you? What ought I do for you?”2
A response may be a resolution never again to walk away from the Lord. The resolution may be to spend more quality time with him, to converse with him more regularly, to find silence to listen to him more intimately, to “waste time” with him more liberally, to experience more deeply the joy of knowing him personally, of being truly shaken by his love, infected by his values, influenced by his choices, and being convinced in his love of the love of the Father. This is a response we must all consider, be we bishops or priests, religious or lay, married or single. We have all too easily walked away from Jesus, and walked into protected comfort zones, cultures of institutionalized hypocrisy, selfishness and sloth; we have found solace in superficial ideologies or shallow religiosity that but mimic the Gospel. We must turn back to Jesus. Turn back to his Gospel.
Impelled by Conscience to Share
The elation within of having encountered Jesus compels us to share. It is not possible to have met Jesus, then hoard the joy of this encounter for oneself. The encounter with Jesus is genuinely personal, but intensely moving in his love not only for me but for all others– lay, religious, priests, bishops, Catholics and non-Catholics, Muslims and Lumad. It is the joy of this gratuitous personal encounter that impels us to share it, to break out of our zones of comfort, our parish turfs, our intimidating conventos, our moldy libraries and tired ways of thinking in order to share of this joy with those who cry out for it in need. For Pope Francis, this is not just a matter of choice; it is a matter of conscience. “If something should rightly disturb and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, and without meaning and goal in life” (EG, 49). In going forth, in opening the doors of God’s love to them, in facilitating grace, not being its arbiters, we should not fear for ourselves, but fear to fail those Jesus leads to us in need. “More than a fear of going astray,” Pope Francis says, “my hope is that we will be moved by a fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within habits that make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37)” (ibid).
Poverty Still Scandalous
In our personal encounter with Jesus, we know ourselves uplifted, we know all humanity is uplifted in dignity because of Jesus’ loving gaze from the Cross for us all. We must abide in this joy in “evangelical discernment,” and not allow ourselves in a confusing world to be led astray by spurious joys. While we gratefully recognize advances in Philippine society in such areas as basic education, fundamental aspects of the economy, the struggle for elusive peace in Mindanao, the war against corruption, and in all the shameful slime uncovered in connection with the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), we cannot help but admit with Pope Francis that twenty-eight percent of our people3 still “are barely living from day to day.” The poorest of our people are in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with 47% of the people living below the poverty threshold of PHP 5,458 pesos/month, in Region XII and Region IX with 38% and 37% respectively of the populations still living in absolute poverty. The income gap between our rich and poor has not closed: the richest ten percent of our population is earning ten times more than the poorest ten percent, with the income of the richest families soaring way beyond the income of the poorest.4 These are figures that have not yet captured the devastation wrought by the standoff in Zamboanga, the earthquake in Bohol, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.
This is a social scandal for which we cannot just blame government. We need to understand our role in it, our personal responsibility for it in our individual lives and shared cultures, and return to Jesus.
The Encounter with Jesus: Root of our Love for the Poor
It is the fundamental encounter with Jesus that must guide our response to the poor. The poor are not just curious ciphers on a statistical report. The poor are not just the unlettered, the unwashed, the uninitiated, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the naked, the exploited, the trafficked, and the infirm gazing into our eyes for human recognition. They are those about whom Jesus said, “Whatever you have done or not done to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, that you have done or not done to me” (cf. Mt. 25:40). Jesus makes himself one with the poor. From his Cross, Jesus gazes into our eyes and touches our hearts with love. It is his love which calls forth our response in love. It is his love which allows us to admit our personal faults in our shared social woundedness. It is his love which quietly says: “Go forth, and heal!”
From the poverty or wealth of our lives and personal situations, how do we love our neighbor? How especially do we love our poor, God’s poor? Recalling the words of the 1971 Synod of Bishops, “Our relationship to our neighbor is bound up with our relationship to God; our relationship to the love of God, saving us through Christ, is shown to be effective in the love and service of people. Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated” (34). An honest assessment of our ways of dealing with the poor whom God brings in our lives – our neighbors, our colleagues, our students, our employees, our parishioners, our political constituencies – is called for, especially when these ways impact not just on individual lives but on the common good. To the poor, we owe love as God loved us first. That entails not just sentimentality. That entails justice.
Action Against Exclusion, Injustice Poverty– Part of Preaching Gospel
If God loves us so all-inclusively, why are so many excluded? If God’s justice is wrought so marvelously in compassion, why are so many victims of heartless injustice? If God loves us so lavishly, why are so many yet victims of driving poverty? There is no full answer to these questions. Our faith tells us God is love but our Catechism of the Catholic Church also says God’s love is mysterious. We do know for certain that while God permits much evil he also wished to overcome evil – but only with our cooperation. He wants our active love to show his love. He wants to draw from us love in response to all these evils. Thus “where sin has abounded grace has abounded all the more” Rom 5:20.
In returning to the joy of evangelization, we return joyfully to the memorable words of that same Synod of Bishops, “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation” (#6). There is no Christianity without love. There is no love without justice. There is no integral proclamation of Christianity without effective action for justice. The Church’s mission of redemption is tied up with liberation from injustice and oppression. In this light, unmistakably, Pope Francis is saying, “Go forth!”(5)
No to an Economy of Exclusion
Evangelize, not only in words, but evangelize in action that brings justice to all! The Gospel is of God’s love for all that touches all and uplifts all. It excludes no one. Therefore Francis forbids an economy of exclusion. “‘Thou shall not,’” he says, support, abet, encourage “an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” (6) We must understand what an economy of exclusion means for us in the Philippines. It is an economy which pampers the wealthy with mansions, multiple cars, yachts, helicopters, exotic food, outstanding education, state-of-the-art gadgetry, influence and power, but excludes others, especially the poor, from regular jobs that generate more than subsistence, from liberating education, minimum health care, decent and safe housing, and modern modes of communication. It concentrates decision making in the wills of an entrenched elite, and reduces participation of the poor in these decisions to empty formalities. It serves the interests of the global economic elite, as these benefit the local elite, defends these interests with political, military and media power, and disenfranchises poor people who stand in their way of their rights – even of their right to life. Indigenous peoples are pushed off their lands, their defenders are killed. Meanwhile, laws enacted to close the gap between included and the excluded, the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the disempowered, the housed and the homeless7 are sluggishly implemented or implemented in the breach.
Here, the economy of exclusion take on its own lethal life. To this, Francis quietly states: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of the markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solutions will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.  “The dignity of the human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies,” no matter how “irksome.”8
No to the Idolatry of Money
For Francis we must go back to the love of Jesus. Only then can we understand its social imperative. As in love we must reject an economy of exclusion; in the experience of Jesus’ love we must reject its driving daemon, the idolatry of money.9 “We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex. 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (55). If in the pursuit of private interest, money has taken over life, has co-opted substantial time in our loving and space in our thinking, is more demanding than family, more consoling than friends, determines what is right and what is wrong, is able in importance to push God into a corner, if not into oblivion, for as long as I can push my interests to the exclusions of others’, money has become an idol. Before this idol, both humanity and divinity are sacrificed. As God says, “Thou shall not kill in an economy of exclusion!” he also says, “Thou shall not have money as a false god before me!”
Only in the love of Jesus which expresses the Father’s love for all, can we return to the human finality of money, the human core of private property. It is not humanity that serves money, but money that serves humanity. We must recall the social teaching of the Catholic Church. There is a social mortgage on private property. While the Church recognizes the validity of sufficient money and private property for the human being’s fulfillment of personal and family needs, private property is encumbered by a “social mortgage” and must contribute to the common good(10). Short of this, the legitimacy of accumulated money and private property is lost: “The right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone” (ibid). This is a powerful doctrine inviting urgent reflection on the manner we relate with money and private property in our lives. It is embedded in the principle called the “universal destination of all created goods”(11), the doctrine that all goods created by God are for the good of all. Money is a means. It is not an end. It is certainly not God. Avarice is idolatry (Cf. Col 3:5).  Selfishness is a sin.  The return to the joy of encounter with Jesus cannot force conversion. But it does invite it.
Challenges in the Year of the Laity
The invitation to conversion, to return to Jesus and to the joy of bringing him into our world, is issued to all members of the Church, including bishops, priests and religious. But in the Year of the Laity, when we are specially aware of the valued role the laity play in the proclamation of Jesus and the transformation of our Philippine cultures according to the heart of Jesus, allow us only to invite the laity to urgent action in three areas:
The immediate responsibility for our Catholic families belongs to the laity. Lead our families back to Jesus! Here, nothing is more urgent than that parents introduce their children credibly to the compelling love of Jesus, and that children see their parents as exemplars of human goodness and responsibility impelled by the love of Jesus. No Christian family can flourish without prayer, worship, service to each other, and service to others. No family can be Christian reared only on junk food, trashy media, selfishness, and indifference to the needs of others.
Catholic families have responsibility for the life of the Church community. Get involved in the Church’s parishes, the Church’s organizations and the Church’s schools. Make sure that they are not turned in on themselves, missing to bring the life of Jesus to those in our world who need Jesus most. Help them in the spirit of Francis to “Go forth!” Recall the challenge of Francis to the youth of Brazil!(12)
The Catholic laity has immediate responsibility for a just social order, which we in the Philippines have far from achieved. In carrying out this responsibility, it should not only be guided by the social doctrine of the Church, but spread it.13 Through a return to Jesus, we must beg to be converted from the idolatry of money and the obsession with private property and private gain. In God’s love for all, we must recover not only our sense of the common good, but our obligation to work for it and achieve it,14 even at the cost of personal convenience or of personal treasure. This entails not only turning away from the corruption that has so shamefully marred our history, but to embracing positive action for the good of all. This means acquiring the learning, gaining the skills, cultivating the wisdom, and making the hard choices that the common good entails. It also means acknowledging humbly and respecting the cultural, religious, confessional and ideological diversity that belongs to human and Philippine society today. The shared pursuit of the common good through dialogue hopes for an ever-improved synthesis in human community15 and community with the environment”16
Francis ends his apostolic exhortation on the Joy of Evangelization by pointing to Mary, Model of Evangelization. She is mother of Jesus, to whom we return. She is mother of Jesus, whom we share with those in need. Her “style” of evangelization is of humility and tenderness, which are “not virtues of the weak but virtues of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel strong themselves.” Mary “who praised God for ‘bringing down the mighty from their thrones’ and ‘sending the rich away empty’ (Lk 1:52-53) is also one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice” (288). Let us entrust ourselves to her, who so specially shares our history as a Filipino People. Let us learn patience from her. But let us also learn to say, “Be it done to me according to your will” (Lk 1:38). Let us ask her to bring us back to her son. Let us entreat her to show her son’s liberating face to all in our afflicted nation. Let us beg her to return us all to the joy of evangelization.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
CBCP President
January 27, 2014

[1] Francis.  Evangelii Gaudium.  Apostolic Exhortation.  Nov. 24, 2013.
2 Colloquy, Week I, Exercise 1, Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
3 National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), 2013.  A family of five can be considered poor if it is earning PHP 5,458 a month or just enough to put food on the table.  The same family has to earn PHP 7,821 if it wants to satisfy other non-food needs such as clothing.
 4Family Income and Expenditure Survey, NSCB, 2012
5 Francis, ibid., 20-24, 49
6 Ibid., 53
7 E.g.  Comprehensive Agrarian Refrom Program with Extension and Reforms (RA 9700), Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (RA 8371), Urban Development and Housing Act (RA 7279), Fisheries Code (RA 8550), Kasambahay Law (RA 10361), magna Carta of Women (RA 9710), Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (RA 9262), Family Courts (RA 8369), Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation (RA 8425).
8 Francis, ibid., 202-203.  “How many words prove irksome to this system [economy of exclusion]? It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference is made to protecting labor and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands a commitment to justice…” (203).
9 Ibid., 55-56
10 John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, 14
11 John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42.  Cf. also: Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church: “Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute and untouchable…” (177).
12 Challenging the youth of Brazil on Sept. 20, 1013 to get involved in the Church through living the radical Gospel of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said, “I want a mess!”
13 “…To teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church’s evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of the society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour” (Compendium of the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, 67).
 14 ” It is the primary task of the lay faithful, formed in the school of the Gospel, to be directly involved in political and social activity. Hence they need suitable formation in the principles of the Church’s social teaching. (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 100)
 15 Cf. “Social Dialogue as a Contribution to Peace,”  Evangelii Gaudium, 238-258.
16 Cf. Caritas in Veritate: “The way humanity treats the environment influences the way its treats itself and vice versa.  this invites contemporary society to seriously review its life style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences….” (51).