Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: April 12, 2021 08:21 AM GMT
Father Danny Pilario prays for the soul of an extrajudicial killing victim in Payatas, Manila, in this file photo. (Photo courtesy of Father Pilario)
A group of Catholics in the Philippines celebrated the feast of Divine Mercy in an online anticipated Mass on April 10 to pray for healthcare workers, coronavirus patients and victims of extrajudicial killings.
The Mass was organized by 1Sambayan, a coalition of political and national groups opposed to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Their aim was to present to Filipinos what they said were dire problems gripping the nation caused by the incompetence of the Duterte administration.
The Eucharist was presided over by Jesuit Father Albert Alejo together with Divine Word Society Father Flavie Villanueva, Vincentian Father Danny Pilario and Father Robert Reyes, all staunch critics of the president’s deadly war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives in recent years.
Father Reyes read the Gospel while Father Pilario gave the reflection.
Father Villanueva delivered the Prayers of the Faithful together with the homeless of Saint Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center, a refuge that feeds Manila’s homeless.
“We have a saying that if there is suffering, there is the mercy of God. That mercy of God is called divine mercy. Today, we seek God’s mercy, especially when we are in a desperate situation like this pandemic,” Father Alejo said at the Mass.
Every Catholic in the Philippines must seek and beg for divine mercy like those whose loved ones died because of Covid-19, those who lost their jobs, and those with mental health problems and depression, he said.
“Everyone has deep questions today, they are deep that there are no immediate answers … Let us remember today those who died [in extrajudicial killings] because they died out of man’s cruelty and lack of mercy,” Father Alejo added.
In his homily, Vincentian priest Father Pilario said Filipinos could be the modern-day “doubting Thomas” for finding difficulty in believing in Jesus’ resurrection.
“We cannot blame the modern-day doubting Thomas. With the number of corpses in crematoriums here in Manila or in hospital morgues, we too can ask — Where is the resurrection?” Father Pilario said in his homily.
He said Jesus understood why Thomas doubted his resurrection.
Like many Filipinos suffering, it was difficult to believe in the midst of anxiety, fear and anger, Father Pilario said.
He recalled his missionary work in Payatas, Manila’s biggest dumpsite and an area that has seen many killings in Duterte’s drug war.
“While in Payatas [dumpsite], I saw chicks on top of the casket of a victim of an extrajudicial killing. I asked the mother why they had put a chick on the glass of the coffin. The mother replied that while the chick pecks at the glass … it also does so to his killers’ conscience.”