‘Stop killings, help those in need’
Extrajudicial killings and second chances were among the themes touched on during the Siete Palabras 2017, a reflection of Jesus Christ’s final words at the Cross held at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral last Good Friday.
Fr. Daniel Franklin Pilario, dean of studies at the St. Vincent School of Theology in Quezon City, called for an end to summary executions of drug suspects that were fueled by the government’s war on illegal drugs.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. It is hard to forgive. But forgiveness is at the center of our Christianity. If we don’t know how to forgive, then we might as well stop calling ourselves Christians,” Fr. Pilario said.
Pilario, parish priest in Payatas, said real forgiveness in present-day context starts with justice and fairness.
He said he met widows and children of the drug suspects that were executed by unidentified vigilantes in the last nine months. “In the name of God, stop the killings,” he said.
At present, Fr. Pilario said 30 of their parish members became “victims” of the bloody war, the latest of whom died only last Tuesday, when he was preparing for his trip to Cebu.
Fr. Arvin Abatayo of Don Bosco-Magone Center for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL), expounded on Jesus Christ’s fourth word, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” by asking Cebu faithful to reach out to those in need.
The priest has been with Magone for five years now, the center located inside the Don Bosco Boys Home in Liloan town north of Cebu City.
“The center is for children who lost their way, who were taken in for theft, robbery, and illegal drugs,” Abatayo told the parishioners.
He admitted that over the years, he has been discouraged by children who went back to their old criminal ways despite being helped.
But Abatayo said he saw God’s presence again when, in July last year, he joined a meeting hosted by the Cebu Archdiocese for drug surrenderees.
“I saw God in Labang (Lahat Bangon or Everyone Rise), a community-based treatment program for drug dependents in Subangdaku, Mandaue City,” said Abatayo.
This year, the Cebu Archdiocese organized the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents (CAPDD).
This year’s reflections on the Seven Last Words were guided by the theme “Year of the Parish: Communion of Communities.”
The meditations on the second word, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise,” were led by Sr. Nimfa Seranias of the Missionary Sisters of the Servants of the Holy Spirit Kahupayan Center Inc. who touched on the importance of hope.
Fr. Crispin Mostajo, parish priest of the Mother of Perpetual Help-Redemptorist Church in Cebu City, talked about the third word of Jesus on the cross, “Woman, behold your son; Son, behold your mother” by focusing on youth empowerment.
Fr. Jonathan Rubin, a former call center agent and now parochial vicar of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, reflected on Jesus’ fifth word, “I thirst” by calling on the faithful to be responsible in the use of the internet and social media.
The meditations on the sixth word, “It is finished,” were led by Mr. Juanito Entica, a parishioner of the Sto. Niño Parish in Paknaan, Mandaue City, who talked about the finished mission of Jesus Christ.
The last meditation on the seventh word, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit,” were given by Fr. Arnulfo Rendon, executive director of the Basic Ecclesial Communities of the Cebu Archdiocese.
Fr. Jose Adonis Aquino, director of the Archdiocesan Biblical Apostolate, opened the reflections.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma concluded the meditations with a prayer./With interns Gift Libby and Ray Chen Bahinting
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