“We have observed His star at its rising and have come to pay Him homage.” (Matthew 2:2b, New Revised Standard Version)
Thus said the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs (CBCP-ECEA) in their unity statement for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022 on January 18 to 25.
“Christ’s light guides our journey during these days of struggle, hardships and despair,” said the statement signed by Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, general secretary of NCCP, and Archbishop Angelito R. Lampon, OMI, chairman of the CBCP-ECEA.
The Protestant and Catholic church groups said that with Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) and the Covid-19 Omicron variant straining the capacities of local communities and families, “Christians must unite in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us. The Filipino people are in need of accompaniment and aid in these difficult times.”
As a nation, they said the Filipinos are also challenged to rise against widespread killings and call for accountability for so-called tokhang, or extrajudicial killings in the fight against drugs, and “anti-insurgency” operations.
“The very dignity of life has been violated, as many have been extra-judicially killed,” said the statement a copy of which was sent to the BusinessMirror.
“Falsehoods and evil peddled through strong-arm governance have not only limited democratic space, but they have led to corruption, scandals and serious shortcomings in social, health, education and other government services,” it added.
It pointed out that such realities must strengthen the people and unite their common concern.
“Like the Magi of old, we are on a journey toward a better way. The better way is to completely change our old ways and bad habits,” the NCCP and CBCP unity statement said.
“Christ is the beacon that summons us to move toward hope. Jesus’ light rises as our guide in a common quest for God’s Shalom, which is peace based on justice, love, righteousness, freedom, democracy and dignity of life,” the statement said.
Citing the elections only months away, it said the people must all take courage to work together, honoring life and God’s creation.
“This is a Kairos [grace] moment where we can encourage active citizenship among our people and insist upon servant leadership from those who desire our votes in the May 2022 national polls,” the statement said.
It added that in Christian unity, “our prophetic voice and firm stand for Christ-like conduct and life-affirming principles will enable us to join with other Filipinos in discerning who should lead the country.”
In these trying times, the NCCP and CBCP said, the people must also guard against the “powers of darkness” that will seek to defraud, deceive and destroy God’s intended goodness for the Filipino people.
“Let us be like ‘city on hill’ that cannot be hidden [Matthew 5:14],” it urged the faithful, they said.
The NCCP and CBCP said that as a community that evangelizes through active participation in the democratic process, “we can lead by example, reflecting Christ’s love and joining in a journey toward our desired future, where justice, righteousness, and peace will take root and God’s Shalom will flourish among us.
“As we respond to the challenges of our time, we offer ourselves in service to the poor, the marginalized, and to the toiling majority who are striving for more prosperous and peaceful futures,” they said.
The two church groups said they commit to nurturing ecological integrity, both because this is a right thing to do and because such action can lessen the probability of extreme climate events and dangerous pandemics.
“Together, we celebrate our Christian unity and affirm our deepest desire to participate in a common journey while working and praying together that will bring us to a place where all creation will sing of God’s goodness and will live in harmony and peace,” the NCCP and CBCP said in their unity statement.
Image credits: The Diocese of Tagbilaran/CBCP News