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Understanding Synodality in the Context of the Philippines

by His Excellency Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, D.D.

Bishop of Kalookan and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

CELEBRATE ASIA IN MANILA [500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines and the 50th Anniversary of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences - FABC]

I’d like to begin by thanking His Eminence Cardinal Joe Advincula for that very beautiful and very powerful homily which I call “Salubong Experience”. You know that the two images of the Risen Christ and our Blessed Mother have become the symbols of our Synod on Synodality. These two powerful images have accompanied our synodal consultations from the diocesan, to the metropolitan, to the national levels. Kasi, ang lakas ng dating sa atin ng ritwal ng Salubong, para sa pagdiriwang ng muling pagkabuhay. Honestly, noong una I was not very comfortable with the ritual of Salubong. Because I’m a Bible professor, and I used to feel awkward about, you know, the celebration of Easter as an encounter between the Risen Christ and the Blessed Mother, because I couldn't see it in the Scriptures at the start. You know? In John chapter 20, it was actually, salubong, an encounter between Mary Magdalene and the Risen Jesus. Well, this morning I was thinking to myself after listening to the first reading, that I was looking at the wrong places. That the salubong is there, and actually we have to read it in Acts chapter one and two, where the Blessed Mother is present in that upper room. We’ve got to use to call it the Pentecost experience, but the Pentecost experience is an Easter experience. Walang angel na bumaba para hawiin ‘yung belong itim, doon sa Pentecost narrative of Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, pero ang pumapel na taga-alis ng belong itim ay ang Espirito Santo mismo na dumating bilang isang malakas na hangin, kakaibang klaseng bagyo. Ang alam nating bagyo naninira, katulad ng katatapos lang na dumaan na Bagyong Karding (Noru). Ang Espirito Santo ay isang bagyo na malakas pero naghahawi, nag-aalis ng mga lambong, mga itim na belo, upang masilayan natin ang Kristong muling nabuhay. There, the whole community of disciples is present. It is like a different rendition of the Johannine “behold your mother, behold your son” (Jn. 19:26-27). Now, it is, you know, to the mother, it’s like the Spirit is saying, “Behold your risen Son”, in the corporate Christ, which is the Church, the Mystical Body that Cardinal Joe was speaking about. In turn the Spirit says to us, “Behold your mother.”

I have organized this talk into three parts:

  • Part 1 – Our Philippine Synodal Experience in the Light of the 50th Anniversary of FABC,

  • Part 2 – On the Synodal Process Itself: The National Synodal Process ─ Highlights and Areas of Conversion from the Perspective of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which I represent today, and

  • Part 3 – will be mostly in Tagalog: Mga Pagmumulat sa Karanasan ng Pakikilakbay sa Synod on Synodality sa Liwanang ng Salita ng Diyos

Part 1: Our Philippine Synodal Experience in the Light of the 50th Anniversary of FABC

Let me start immediately with part one: Our Philippine Synodal Experience in the Light of the 50th Anniversary of FABC. The bishops are preparing to join the plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, from October 12 until October 13, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The context in which we are reflecting on the new pathways for synodality for the Church in the Philippines is this celebration of the 50th Anniversary of FABC, as well as our recently concluded celebration of the 500th Year of the Arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. I don't know if you are aware that FABC has actually been promoting greater synodality in the Church since its very inception. It has been known mainly for its insistence on dialogue. Of course FABC did not use the term “synodality”, but it has insisted consistently on dialogue. For us in Asia, FABC emphasizes that synodality has to take the form of a threefold dialogue: 1) with a religion of Asia, 2) with a culture of Asia, and 3) with the poor of Asia. Perhaps we can begin by replacing Asia with the Philippines, and then ask ourselves, “How we have fared in each of the three levels of dialogue while reviewing our own synodal experience in the Philippines?”

Firstly, with regard to dialogue with religions. Ironically, as regards interreligious dialogue, our disadvantage has been the fact that we are a predominantly Christian country. I say “ironically” because being predominantly Christian is precisely the reason why we have the tendency to be less concerned about dialoguing with other religions. Kasi, it is different talking about dialogue in a context in which you are the majority, than in a context in which you are a minority. The Catholics or the Christians in Thailand are minority, as they are in Vietnam, and in any most other countries in Asia. It is in the minority setting that the advocacy for religious freedom, tolerance, and dialogue usually becomes more palpable. It is a common tendency for us Catholics when we are the majority, to be presumptuous, you know, to throw our weight around, to be intolerant, or even less open to dialogue. No wonder, our efforts interreligious dialogue has remained admittedly, not very significant. The other communities of faith are actually even surprised when we bother to reach out to them as we did during the Synod on Synodality.

We have Catholics who simply take it for granted that we can just celebrate Masses in public spaces as if these belong to us. Sometimes, we just presumptuously occupy the streets and mess up the traffic for our possessions. Often without even bothering to coordinate with the local government units, or the barangays about re-routing the traffic. Hindi magandang attitude ito. It's the colonial attitude. You know? Which we're supposed to have outgrown because we're no longer in an age of colonialism. Pero ang lakas ng dating utak mananakop, and it is not good for dialogue. Usually, our reasoning is that we can always presume that the LGUs or the barangays will marshal the traffic, which does not automatically happen if we do not consciously attend to it; and it is when government officials happen to belong to other religions or other Christian denominations that we often become more conscious of the need for dialogue. Ayun! Then nakikipag- dialogue tayo. I call that a “self-serving kind of dialogue.” Dialogue, kapag tayo ay nasa posisyon of disadvantage.

Please, please, make no mistake about this. Please do not misunderstand me, for as it were advocating a secularistic kind of society that is intolerant of religious expression in public spaces. No. I don't agree with that kind of an attitude either, but there are countries where all communities of faith are equally given the privilege of using the public space for their festivals and often even with the support from the other religions.

Synodality with other religions is actually more than peaceful coexistence, or even more than dialogue. It is also about pro-actively discovering spaces of partnerships and collaboration about opening our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) to promote, to be promoters, not just of basic Christian communities, but basic human communities.

In our Philippine synodal journey, the aspiration for ecumenical dialogue has been more significant than interreligious dialogue, and for obvious reasons. It is mostly in Mindanao where interreligious dialogues figure more prominently in the diocesan synodal reports, and they look back to the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Council which paved the way for the bishops-ulama encounters and dialogues. Yet, kahit wala tayo sa Mindanao, here in Luzon and in the Visayas where we happen to be majority, we cannot deny the presence in our midst of our Muslim traders, of Taoist, and Buddhist Chinese-Filipinos, of Iglesia ni Cristo, of Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and of indigenous peoples, indigenous communities that have held on to their animist faith. It is in the realm of social advocacies that ecumenism and interreligious dialogues have tended to be more productive. Examples of these would be the common concerns for the climate crisis, and the protection of our common home, advocacies for good governance and responsible citizenship, for clean, honest, accurate, meaningful, and peaceful election, as in PPCRV work, which is ecumenical by the way. For a peaceful resolution of conflicts, for the protection of human rights, for the defense of human life, for land reform, for campaigns against corruption, etc.

New avenues have been opened in our relationship, in particular with the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, because of the 500th Year of Christianity Celebration, and the CBCP’s joint statement with the Iglesia Filipina Independiente that has endeavored to heal the historical wounds that have alienated them from us, from the Roman Catholic Church. We also feel the defensive position of our traditional church-going Catholics towards Pentecostals and Evangelicals that have been actively engaged in what many Catholics, you know, suspect or regard us “sheep stealing”, pagnanakaw ng kawan; and the common suspicion is that these groups are out of proselytize, and that they are consciously aiming at converting hordes of unchurched Catholics to their fold.

Well, this synod experience has been humbling for us, because we have heard remarks from some of them. Remarks like, “Would you really rather keep them distant from the Christian faith? The ones you call unchurched Catholics.” “Would you rather keep them distant from the Gospel than allow them to hear God's word through our evangelical efforts?” “We're not forcing them to join us. We only invite them,” they say. We know that they are mostly baptized Catholics, but they claim that they do not feel at all like they belong to the Catholic Church. Many of them are baptized but they know very little about the Christian faith. When you hear remarks like this, you're humble.

Now, secondly, with regard to dialogue with the poor, the synodal consultation has been a very humbling experience for our parishes, especially in regard to reaching out to the unchurched, who constitute the majority of Catholics. I see it has been very humbling, and sorry for repeating. It has been very humbling to admit that in spite of PCP2’s (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines) vision of promoting a Church of the poor (this was also mentioned by Cardinal Joe), the poor have remained not only in the margins of society, but also in the margins of the Church. The sectoral dialogues during the synod have also opened our eyes to the great tendency in our parishes, to often be focused only on our “churchee” concerns, to be inward looking, to be self referential (if I may use the vocabulary or Pope Francis), to be parochial in the negative sense of the word. We have tended to limit the Church involvement of the laity to serving the Church, rather than serving society as members of a servant church. Let me repeat that. We have tended to limit the involvement, the Church involvement of the laity to serving the Church, rather than serving society as part of a servant Church.

Most parishes have felt a certain awkwardness. For example, about dialoguing with a sector that calls itself the LGBTQ+, or with single parents, or with separated couples, or families who are living in a not so ideal family situation. There are people with disabilities (PWDs) who bewail the absence of PWD friendly facilities in our Churches, or even the availability of sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired. We have heard that the painful experiences of families about the apparent lack of compassion of the Church when they lost their family member because of depression, that their loved ones could not be blessed in the Church because their family member had committed suicide. The most common remark had to do with the poor people, unable to avail themselves of the Sacraments, because some of them say they could not afford the fees. There are stories of abused women and children, wishing that they could seek refuge in the Church in times when they had to run away from their abusers, and not find shelter. And senior citizens who wish that the Church could establish more facilities that could attend to abandoned elderly people. The most common and rather painful remark that we have heard very often in our synodal consultations, was the general impression that the poor felt discriminated against in their parishes, that many priests and leaders have tended to be more welcoming towards the wealthy and influential, that the visit them more often, favor them for parish leadership roles, as in Parish Pastoral Councils, and Parish Finance Councils. Even more painful was the common remark that many Church leaders, clerics or lay, do not bother to listen to their voices, or express concern about their struggles to earn a living, or to have decent dwellings, or to send their children to schools, or to protect their human dignity against those who exploit them economically.

There are of course stories that point otherwise to a more positive be caring Church. Well, Cardinal Joe sum them up into two. ‘Yung “salamat” at “sana”. It is in the Basic Ecclesial Communities that the poor have mostly found welcoming spaces. Many of them feel that their popular religious expressions of faith are looked down upon, or misjudged by the more educated Catholics, or sometimes even by their own parish priests. There are slum communities in the urban areas, or far-flung communities in the rural areas, that hardly feel the Church’s presence. Many have said they do not feel welcome when they come to Church, because they are not properly dressed. They are drawn to Church only during fiestas, for the spectacles, the Christmas celebrations, and Holy Week; but usually even when they come to Church, they choose to stay only in the patio, and sit, not inside but on the plant boxes. They feel awkward sitting inside, not being able to drop some money collection, some money for the collection bag when the collection bag is passed before them.

Right within the Church, among active Church members, especially those involved in Church ministries, the common lament is the lack of catechesis and faith formation, as well as formation opportunities that would equip them for their ministries. Many of them have observed the fact that the laity's involvement in the PPCs and the PFCs is mainly consultative. Their involvement in drafting, implementing, and evaluating pastoral plans tends to be minimal. They are not even allowed sometimes to meet without their parish priest. And why not if they're meeting mainly to implement plans that have already been collectively approved in the council?

Lastly, the dialogue with cultures. With regard to the dialogue of cultures, we heard many expressing that the Church has a strong tendency to be monocultural. The concern about native or ethnic cultural values and traditions seems to be more prominent among the indigenous peoples who are often suspicious of Church agenda, when suddenly allowed to express these in Church liturgies which they often find too foreign, or too intellectual, or too partial for the educated. Many feel that the use of the vernacular languages is becoming less and less evident in our Churches. There is also a prevalent observation that our celebrations tend to be to Romanized, too pompous, too formal, or too lacking of elements that one might call genuinely ecclesial in the sense of communitarian.

Now let me take a little time to describe the process that led to our national synodal assembly and highlight some areas of conversion.

Part 2: The National Synodal Process

This is Part 2. Of course, you know that orientations had been given to all the bishops, and each diocese was instructed to organize a diocesan synodal team that will coordinate the whole process from the parish level, all the way to the diocesan level, and actually, it sounded like a toll order. Especially during a time of pandemic, when most Catholics around the world were still limited to virtual encounters, through teleconferencing; but, to our great surprise, our people, our communities, took it very seriously. Took the synod very seriously anyway, and did their utmost best to be able to carry out a serious consultation process in whatever way possible. The BECs seemed most comfortable about it, as it involves what we call a Bibliarasal or Lectio Divina format, that they were already familiar with. The guide questions too were precise, and the involvement of the marginal sectors came as a great surprise for those who had been invited to join in. Their common question was, “Really?” “Does it really matter to the Church whatever it is that we have to say in answer to this guide questions?” Even the regular Church volunteers found the questions curious and interesting. They knew somehow that the questions did not come from their parish priests. Because they were allowed to express their honest feelings even about the way things were going on in their parishes. It helped a lot, that Pope Francis was being invoked all the time. That it was Pope Francis who was interested to hear their thoughts. Besides, the synodal working teams had an authorization from their bishops to carry out what they had been mandated to do, and so, assemblies for consultation were convened from the BEC, to the chapel, to the parish, to the vicariate, all the way to the diocesan levels.

These encounters we're actually more important than the reports themselves. Whether they were held virtually, or physically, or in a combination of both. People found time to listen and to discern together, taking note of voices that had never before been heard in the Church circles. Making sure that they were properly heard again in the diocesan assemblies and properly documented in the synthesis reports that were submitted to the conference. But then, in order to avoid listening to synthesis reports from 86 ecclesiastical jurisdictions all over the country, the national synodal team asked for a convening of synodal assemblies on the metropolitan level, with the recommended template to follow for it. And so, the metropolitan provinces came up with their own synodal teams at the last minute, and convened their delegates from each member diocese, who presented their diocesan reports very creatively. Until they were able to come up with a metropolitan synthesis report.

You know? Apparently, this had turned out to be the most unique feature of the Philippine synodal experience. In most other countries, there was no metropolitan level consultation. Then, finally on July 4-7, 2022, a national assembly, a national synodal consultation was convened, with the whole CBCP in attendance, and one lay delegate each from every diocese and metropolitan teams, that included priests and consecrated persons among them. The delegates, along with the facilitators and technical staff numbered to around 250 individuals. And here is how the bishops described their experience in a brief message, that the CBCP had released as their only statement following the conclusion of the plenary assembly, previous plenary assembly, following the pattern that we had adopted for our group sharings.

The statement was organized into three parts: look, listen, and love, our unique Scripture-based adaptation of the see, judge, and act pattern. We said, we looked and it brought us joy, to see the persevering faith of our people, the dedication of our ministers, the increasing dialogue of action within and with others. We saw lights, yet it costs us sadness, seeing that we are yet far from our dream of a Church of the poor, and hearing the earnings and groans of those distant from the Church. We saw gaps and closed doors in our work of evangelization. We saw shadows. ‘Yung mga tinatawag ni Cardinal Joe na “mga sana.” Our shared sentiments resulting from the interweaving of joy and sadness in our hearts was an experience of fellowship, but we yearn for deeper commitments.

Next, we listened. We heard strong voices. Voices calling us, our clergy, consecrated persons, and lay collaborators, to heed the call of conversion, to go out of our comfort zone, to be welcoming, to be transparent and accountable, to be more compassionate. These voices echo Pope Francis’ call “to be a Church that sets forth, and is in a perpetual state of mission.”

Then, we concluded, we are called to love. In responding to God's love, we set ourselves a new formation. We're move, we said, to open doors. Especially the door of personal, parish, and institutional conversion; and this means for us, opening wide the doors of encounter, listening, and dialogue, the door of renewal of ourselves and the clergy, the door to greater witnessing, of simplicity and humility, the doors of stewardship, good governance, and care for creation, doors towards strengthening the faith formation and empowerment of the laity, and building up of our communities. The door of renewing our structures and ministries, leaving behind those that do not help, and embracing those that make us a community. Doors that lead to the building of bridges, closing the gaps and promoting equality. We open doors for us all to go out, to set forth once again for mission, to seek out those who are far, those who are different, excluded, to encounter, listen, and dialogue with brothers and sisters from different denominations and faiths. To explore possibilities and positive engagement in the areas of ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, politics, and the social media. We opened our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts, for we humbly admit that we do not have all the answers to the many questions of our time. While we recognize the goodness and giftedness of our people, and those who do not share our faith.

Part 3: Mga Pagmumulat sa Karanasan ng Pakikilakbay sa Synod on Synodality sa Liwanang ng Salita ng Diyos

“Engkwentro o Pakikitagpo sa Kristong Muling Nabuhay.” Ito ho ang piniling sundin ng National Synodal Team bilang balangkas ng pakikilakbay para sa ating mga pre-synodal consultations sa Pilipinas. Sa pamamagitan ng tipikal na paraan na nabanggit ko kanina: Lectio Divina, ginamit natin bilang gabay sa bahaginan ang Kuwento ni San Lukas (Lk. 24:13-35) tungkol dalawang alagad sa daan papuntang Emmaus na sinamahan ng Panginoong muling-nabuhay sa paglalakbay ngunit hindi nila kaagad nakilala. Sa sinodong ito, marami rin tayong nakasama sa daan na sa simula ay mistulang mga estranghero sa atin. Katulad ng dalawang alagad, mayroon ding mga “tabing”, mga “belong itim” na pumipigil sa atin upang makilala ang ating kalakbay. Halimbawa na rito ay ang mga paunang reaksyon ng mga sektor na inimbitahan sa kuwentuhan. Kahit umoo sila sa imbitasyon, marami sa kanila, umamin na karamihan ay may duda sa loob nila, may mga tanong, may mga agam-agam. At ang mga tanong katulad ng, “Ano kaya ang tunay na agenda ng Simbahang Katolika para sa konsultasyon na ito?”

Sa pakikilakbay, sabayan ang pagmumulat natin na may mga salamin pala tayong suot-suot, na kumukulay sa paningin natin sa isa’t isa. Ang salamin dapat tutulong para liminaw ‘yung nakikita mo eh, pero kung minsan, ‘di natin alam, pinalalabo ito o kinukulayan ito. Kadalasan nagiging dahilan ang mga ito ng pagkatakot at pag-iwas sa isa’t isa. Tinuturuan tayo ni Kristo na magsuot ng kakaibang salamin: salamin ng katarungan at habag. Na magkasabay: justice and mercy, para luminaw ang paningin natin at hindi tayo matisod, lumihis, o maligaw ng landas.

Sa Kanyang mga lakbayin, alam n’yo ho, maraming beses na huminto si Hesus. Upang pansinin ang mga hindi napapansin ng lipunan. Mga katulad nina Bartimeo, ang bulag na pulubi (Mk. 12:46-52), si Zaqueo, ang pandak na tagasingil ng buwis na kinailangan pang umakyat sa punong sikomoro (Lk. 19:1-10), ang babaeng naaagasan ng dugo (Mk. 5:25-34), ang babaeng balo na naglilibing ng anak niyang lalaki (Lk. 7:11-17), at ang babaeng Samaritana (Jn. 4:1-30).

Sa daan patungong Jerusalem, mula sa Galilea, buong tiyaga na iminulat ni Jesus ang Kanyang mga alagad sa tunay Niyang layunin at misyon: si Pedro na pumipigil sa Kanya na tumuloy sa Jerusalem (Mk. 8:31-33), ang mga alagad na nagtatalo kung sino daw ang pinakadakila sa kanila (Mk. 9:33-37), at sina Santiago at Juan na ibig maupo sa kaliwa’t kanan ni Kristo (Mk. 10:35-45).

Binigyan natin ng natatanging panlasang kultural ang synodal encounter natin sa Pilipinas. Sabi ko nga, sa pamamagitan ng salubong. Kasi, sa ating kultura, belong itim ang paglalarawan natin sa tabing na ito, sa ating pagsasaritwal ng engkuwentro. Belong tumatakip sa paningin ng Inang nagluluksa. ‘Di ba, ang salubong ritual natin napakaikli lang? Nakatutok ito doon sa sandali ng pagbaba ng anghel para hawiin ang belong itim, habang nakatingin ang taumbayan, naghihintay na puno ng pananabik. Halos mabasa mo sa mga mukha ng sambayanan ang isang panalangin. Panalangin na masilayan din nila ang liwanag ng pag-asa sa gitna ng mga kadilimang bumabalot din sa mga buhay nila. Salubong ang tawag natin sa ritwal na ito. At napakalakas ng dating nang gawin natin itong balangkas para sa ating mga diocesan, metropolitan, at national pre-synodal consultations. Sa simpleng kuwentuhan, para bang binabaan tayo ng anghel, tayong mga mga nakilakbay.

Ito ang salitang ginamit natin upang ipaunawa ang ibig sabihin ng Synodality: pakikilakbay; at tulad ng ulat ni San Lukas tungkol sa pagpapakita ni Jesus sa dalawang alagad, hindi mana ito biglaan. Nangyari pero unti-unti, dahan-dahan, yugtu-yugto. Ang simula ng estrangherong manlalakbay, ay isang simpleng paglapit: “He drew near” (Lk. 24:15). Pagkatapos, masusing pakikinig: “He listened to them” (Lk. 24:19ff), isang pakikiramdam na ang kasunod ay pagpapaliwanag, at pagbibigay-saysay, at nauwi sa pagsasalo sa hapunan (Lk. 24:29-31). Ang lahat ng ito ay naging sangkap ng ating mga synodal consultations. At dahil siguro sa mahabang karanasan ng pandemya na naglayo sa atin sa isa’t isa, alam ninyo, sinamantala ng mga lumahok ang bawat pagtitipon para makaranas na muli ng ganyang mga engkuwentro. Nangyari pa man din noong kasagsagan ng pagkalat ng nakamamatay na Delta variant ng COVID19. Virtual man o physical, naging napakatindi tuloy ng mga bahaginan.

Kahit importante ang mga guide questions, ang mga instructions, ang balangkas ng konsultasyon, sa karanasan para bang nabubuo ang daan sa mismong paglalakbay. May isang makatang nagsabi, si Antonio Machado, nagsabi siya ng ganito sa isa sa mga tula na pinamagatang Caminante. Sabi niya sa wikang kastila, “Caminando no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.” Ibig sabihin, kahit daw parang walang malinaw na daan sa patutunguhan, nabubuo ang daan sa mismong pakikilakbay.

‘Di ba sa ganitong paraan nagpamalas ang Diyos sa kanyang bayan nang tumakas ang mga ito sa Egipto at nasukol sila sa may dalampasigan ng Dagat na Pula (Exodo 14-15)? Doon nila nakilala ang Diyos na gumagawa ng daan kapag walang daan. ‘Di ba kinakanta natin ito? “God will make a way when there is no way.” Kwento ito ng Book of Exodus ‘di ba? How God made a way for them through the Red Sea, a way through the desert, all the way to promised land.

Ang Diyos, hindi tayo, ang Diyos ang gumagawa ng daan. Sumasabay lang tayo sa Kanya, na kusang lumapit at nakilakbay sa atin sa pamamagitan ng pagkakatawang-tao Niya. Sapat na ang makiisang puso sa Kanya, makilahok sa Kanyang katawan, makibahagi sa Kanyang misyon. Makibahagi. Tama si San Francisco de Asis sa kanyang panalangin, na dapat ang hilingin natin: tayo mismo ay maging daan ng kapayapaan, ng pag-ibig, ng patawad, ng pananampalataya.

Hindi ba’t ito rin ang ipinanawagan ni San Juan Bautista (Mt. 3:3) na humiram lang ng salita kay Prophet Isaiah (Is. 40:3-4), “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Ihanda raw ang daan ng Panginoon, at apat ang dapat gawin sa pakikilakbay, kung ibig natin na ihanda ang daan ng Panginoon:

  1. ang mataas na bundok ay ibaba, symbolic ng pagpapakumbaba;

  2. ang mga burol ay tambakan, symbolic ng pagpupuno, na sa Pilipino, ibig sabihin ay pagpapatawad;

  3. ang liku-liko na landas ay ituwid, pagtutuwid; at

  4. ang magaspang na lugar ay pinuhin, pagpipino upang masilayan ang kaluwalhatian ng Diyos.

Itong apat na paraan ng paghahanda ng daan ang pinapangarap natin ngayon, matapos ang ating naganap na konsultasyon. Ngayon, hinihintay nating lumabas ang apostolic exhortation kapag naganap na ang Continental Synodal Assembly, at ang Global Synodal Assembly sa October 2023. Hopefully, by January 2024, ay may ilabas na ang Santo Papa, at sana si Santo Papa, Papa Francisco pa rin, maglabas na ng apostolic exhortation, at ito ang magiging batayan natin dito sa Pilipinas para mabigyan ng bagong direksyon ang ating buhay ecclesial. Ngayon pinagtatalunan pa ho, kung napapanahon na ba o hindi na maglunsad ng isang Third Plenary Council of the Philippines.

Sa lakbayin ng buhay, maraming nasasantabi, maraming naiiwan sa kalsada ng buhay, maraming bumabagsak, nabibiktima, may naliligaw ng landas. Si Kristo ang kumakatawan sa Diyos na pumapel bilang Mabuting Samaritano, upang alalayan si Adan, ang sangkatauhan sa landas patungo sa Ama. Siya ang manlalakbay na hindi nag-atubiling maantala sa Kanyang biyahe upang ang biktima’y makapagpatuloy sa kanyang lakbayin (Lk. 10:25-37).

Sino ang kalakbay? Hindi lang kaparokya, hindi lang kapwa Katoliko, hindi lang kapwa Kristiyano, hindi lang kapwa mananampalataya, kung ‘di bawat kapwa tao, kapwa nilalang, at kapwa kasambahay sa iisang tahanan.

Maraming mga agwat na kailangan pa nating bagtasin o tawirin. Mga agwat na naglalayo sa atin sa isa’t isa. At ang papel ni Kristo ay magsilbing tulay na mag-uugnay, na mamamagitan sa langit at sa lupa, sa Diyos at sangkatauhan. Tayong sambayanan ng Kanyang mga alagad ay tinawag Niya upang makipagkaisang-puso’t diwa sa Kanya, makilahok sa Kanyang buhay at makibahagi sa Kanyang misyon ng pakikilakbay sa sangkatauhan tungo sa ganap na paghahari ng Diyos.

Magandang umaga po muli sa inyong lahat!

Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo

Photo by Eric Paul Guanlao, Manila Cathedral Facebook Page

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