Sanchez: Joys amid pain

SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 saw Bacolod celebrate its 4th year of holding the Grand Feast. Nearly 2,000 Catholic and some evangelical Christians joined the Mass in honor of the birthday of our Blessed Mother Mary, the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions in Portugal, and the 12th anniversary of the of the Light of Jesus Family-Bacolod.

The main celebrant was Bishop Patricio Buzon, who in social media posts was beaming with pride as the thousands of Negrenses, young, middle-aged, and senior citizens expressed their love for Holy Mother Church and everyone’s Manong, none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (see Hebrews 2:11 and Romans 8:29). These verses speak of Jesus as the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

It was a celebration of victory, and the youth faithful comprised a huge number. Many invited family members, friends, and classmates. It was easy to spot the “captured” crowd to speak, as the LoJ servants wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan Awaken. The rest were in civvies.

Everyone who took part experienced love for one another, expressed in hugs all over the place, the smiles, jokes, and banter, as people enjoyed each other’s company. Feasters were introduced to their families.

Notwithstanding the terrorist organizations such as Isis, Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, and the Maute group, Muslims assert that Islam is a religion of peace. As Christians, however, we hold that our faith is a religion of love.

But Bishop Buzon injected in his homily the sad news. He announced during the Grand Feast that the four Negrense dioceses will come out with a joint statement expressing their concerns on EJKs (extrajudicial killings).

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said that it is with “pain and horror” that the country continues to get daily news of killings, mostly victimizing suspected drug pushers and users. “We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killings, we cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing.”

The website CBCPNews reported that the church official has repeatedly expressed concern over the spate of killings in the country and even led a multisectoral dialog to come up with a united response to the illegal drugs problem.

Held on August 25, the dialogue gathered together some bishops, government and police authorities, journalists, and youth leaders.

“These dialog and encounters have provided venues for telling and listening to human stories and for establishing partnership with various sectors of society and government,” said Cardinal Tagle.

I agree. As editor-in-chief of the weekly The Feast Bacolod Bulletin, I got to know the struggles of teens and other millennials, street kids, mothers and professionals, and inmates at the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Special Intensive Care Area (MBDJ-Sica). Many shared how they yearn for the love of their families.

May the joys and Christian love of neighbors and of God not just among the Feasters but in every community all over the country.

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