MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle challenged Catholics on Sunday, June 4, to overcome "barriers and divisions" in the face of conflicts such as the recent clashes in the southern Philippines.
"All these events lead us to ask, 'What has happened to humanity?'" Tagle said at Pentecost recollection named after his TV show The Word Exposed.
"How could it be possible for human beings to hurt other human beings?" the cardinal added, saying that incidents like these "sow seeds of distrust, division, further biases, and prejudices."
Tagle then stressed the need for "forging communion, in a world that is constructing many barriers and divisions."
Tagle's Pentecost recollection, with the theme "One Body in Christ," was organized by Jesuit Communications and attended by at least 6,000 people at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The event was held on Pentecost Sunday, when Catholics remember the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus' apostles 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead on Easter.
This is considered the "birthday" of the Catholic Church, and Mass readings on this day talk about unity in diversity, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
'Share your gifts'
In Sunday's recollection, Tagle drove home his point by mentioning other examples of "barriers" in the world.
One of these is discriminating against people with Arab-sounding names.
"If my family name is Arab-sounding, I wonder whether I would be accepted by people," Tagle said in a mix of English and Filipino.
"All over the world, we find barriers, walls, being constructed," he explained. "And the promise of building those walls would make you win elections."
The most prominent world leader who has promised to build a border wall is US President Donald Trump, but Tagle did not mention his name during Sunday's event.
Tagle said: "Nakakapagtaka. Bakit binoboto ng mga tao yaong nagsasabi, 'Tataasan natin ang mga pader!' That means 'yan ang gusto ng nakararami." (It's baffling. Why do people vote for those who say, "We will build higher walls!" That means this is what the majority wants.)
Tagle also cited the barrier of inequality between the rich and the poor.
He recounted a study that showed that "the 8 richest persons in the world own half of the world's wealth."
"Much wealth is being generated," he said. "There is wealth. But it seems nobody wants to address inequality."
Later in his recollection, Tagle emphasized the importance of sharing one's gifts with others.
Tagle said: "You know sometimes, we can fall in love with our gifts and forget the Giver of the gift. We fall in love with the gift of the Spirit, and forget the Holy Spirit. And then we begin to claim the gift as our own, even as our own achievement. And when that happens, I rejoice in my gift, but I forget the community, for which the gift has been given to me."
"Recognize your gift. Be humble also in recognizing what you did not receive. Recognize the gifts of others. Do not be threatened by their gifts," he said.
Tagle capped his reflection by stressing another way of breaking barriers: forgiving others.
"You don't give up on persons," the cardinal said.
"We should genuinely seek for peace. If I don't want peace, I will not forgive," he said. "Kung gusto mo naman talaga, walang tigil na warfare, eh talagang walang forgiveness." (If you really want nonstop warfare, then there will be really no forgiveness.)
"To forgive means to set free. You set free the person who has hurt you, but you set yourself free from the prison of revenge and anger," Tagle said.
"And may those who have hurt others, especially those in authority, release themselves from pride and admit we have done wrong." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.