|Posted on January 18, 2013 at 12:10 AM|
Proclaim the Word, Profess the Faith
Christian life is like a driving car. You can start at low gears; but if you wan to speed up, you have to shift to higher gears of discipleship to the higher gears of apostleship. Discipleship is about following Christ; apostleship is about being sent . . . to represent Christ (Mt 28:19). Christ is risen; he is alive in us, his disciples. When we gather in his name (Mt 18:20), when we are bonded together in the Spirit, we become his body, the Church. That means we become the very sacrament-sign and instrument-of his presence in the world, by the grace of baptism. We must allow Christ to live on and carry on with his mission in and through us-the members of his body. We must allow Christ to continue to bring the fire of faith on earth, to set the whole world ablaze with it (Lk 12:49). We cannot leave this only to our ordained minister. We can’t leave the work of evangelization only to them; that would be reneging on our common vocation and mission! Their pastoral leadership proves to be effective only when they succeed in evoking the gifts the Holy Spirit has generously poured out on us by the grace of baptism and putting these gifts to good use-to renew the face of the earth.
Proclaim the Word, Profess the Faith! this is our common exhortation for this year which Pope Benedict XVI has called a “Year of Faith” (October 2012 – October 2013), made even more opportune by the launching of a global Synod aimed at starting off a “New Evangelization” in the world that is growing cold with the winter of materialism and secularism. He reminds us all of the time when Paul and Bamabas excitedly returned to Antioch and reported to the community how the Lord in his graciousness has “opened the door of faith” to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27)
Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “Proclaim the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 2:4) is his challenge to us as well. Let us not shut the doors that have been flung open by the Lord! He has entrusted to us His Word as the key – for binding and for loosing, on earth as in heaven (Mt 16:19)
Even as we proclaim the Sacred Scriptures as Word of God, let us not forget this Word become flesh in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14). We are not to proclaim the Word as lifeless lines from the pages of a book. Rather we must allow it to transform us-as individuals, as families, as communities of faith, and as a nation. This cannot happen if our encounter with the Word does not facilitate our encounter with the living Word – “whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our own eyes, whom we have touched and carefully watched; the Word who is life, this we share with you!” (1Jn 1:1-2)
Let me end by borrowing from the lyrics of the beautiful song “Power to Unite” of the Catholic Family Bible Encounter: “Read the Bible; the Word of God will give you strength to face the challenge of living. Read the Bible; open it, feel it, understand it. It is the source of our hope when life is too heavy to bear, when all seems lost and unclear; read the Bible and its message will wipe away your tears.”
Profess the faith only in the Living Word. Let this Word come alive in us, fellow disciples and apostles, and through us, in the Philippines – let it set the rest of Asia ablaze!
MOST REV. PABLO VIRGILIO S. DAVID, DD
Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of San Fernando Pampanga