Almost in the twinkling of an eye, bomb blasts shattered the peace of Easter Sunday at a park in Lahore, clearly aimed at the killing and maiming of Christians. Sadly it seems that the Church has entered a new era of persecution — for this is not the first time that Christians are the objects of vicious attacks and atrocious acts of cruelty that, in the past, included beheading and crucifixion.
The CBCP urges all Filipinos to pray for the victims at Lahore, and for Christians everywhere who are once more called on to profess their faith by making the supreme sacrifice. What enables us to bear all this, including the threat of death, is our invincible faith captured by the proclamation of the Easter faith: “He is risen.”
It is the easiest thing for Christians to be embittered and to plot revenge. But hatred bears only the bitter fruit of hatred. Having recently celebrated the solemn Paschal triduum, we are reminded of the supreme lesson that they who wash feet, they who choose the ways of humility and suffering, who prefer to be victims rather than make of others their victims, are, in the end, and in eternity, truly victorious.
But a world order cannot rest on that kind of militancy that is intolerant of the beliefs of others, of their ways of life, of their allegiances. Pope Francis has led us in throwing open the doors of our hearts, our lives, and our institutions — the Church particularly — to people of all races and all beliefs. And his gestures have not been token gestures. His daily acts of kindness, mercy and understanding are a living witness to the world that it is love that truly conquers.
As Christians, we hate none, not even those who have caused the spilling of so much innocent blood, who continue to brandish their weapons and threaten us as we live our faith. But we must continue in all earnestness to work for a society, in our countries and in the world, that is truly just and to preach the truth that God, in his graciousness, has revealed to us. It would be the victory of evil for us to be silenced, but in the Risen Lord, we cannot be defeated.
Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free. You are the savior of the world.
From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, March 30, 2016
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan