Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: April 16, 2021 03:49 PM GMT
Archbishop Charles Brown celebrates Mass in Cebu at an event to commemorate the first Christian baptism in the Philippines 500 years ago. (Photo: Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines)
The apostolic nuncio to the Philippines has challenged Filipino Catholics to live out the faith they received 500 years ago from Spanish missionaries.
Archbishop Charles Brown, Pope Francis’ envoy to the Philippines, also urged Filipinos to take up modern-day challenges in the Catholic faith.
He laid down the challenges during a Mass on April 14 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the country’s first-ever baptism in Cebu.
“Let us recommit ourselves to our own baptismal calling so that we will be witnesses to the light of Christ not only here in the Philippines but indeed throughout the world,” Archbishop Brown said in his homily.
He called Filipino Catholics modern missionaries because so many were overseas working around the globe.
“The Catholic faith is being carried throughout the world by Filipino Catholics, not as colonizers but in many cases as overseas Filipino workers,” he said.
The history of the Church in Asia is as old as the Church herself
Archbishop Brown said the primary motivation of Spanish expeditions was commercial in nature but in the process they planted the seeds of faith in Philippine soil.
“The history of the Church in Asia is as old as the Church herself, for it was in Asia that Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon his disciples and sent them to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Good News and gather communities of believers,” said the papal nuncio, quoting a John Paul II apostolic exhortation.
Filipino Cardinal Orlando Quevedo thanked the papal nuncio for his message.
The cardinal said there were three ways to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
“Filipino Catholics should respond to the great blessing that the Lord has given us through gratitude, rejoicing and sharing,” he said on April 14.
They should also be thankful for the spiritual blessings they have received for the past 500 years, he added.
“Archbishop Brown said that we received the faith 500 years ago from European missionaries. Now we are the spreaders of faith in the world. We are the new missionaries and therefore we must rejoice because of this gift,” said Cardinal Quevedo.
Being missionaries of faith has many challenges
Like the papal nuncio, Cardinal Quevedo praised overseas Filipino workers for sharing the faith in the “ordinariness” of their work.
“Filipino overseas workers share the faith not so much by words but by the joy of their Eucharistic celebrations,” he said.
“Being missionaries of faith has many challenges. Like the Spanish missionaries who crossed the Pacific Ocean 500 years ago, our obstacles in proclaiming the faith today are different,” Dolores Agabin, a church worker in Manila, told UCA News.
Agabin said one challenge in proclaiming the faith is materialism.
“It is difficult to preach the Good News to a world consumed by material goods. Nowadays, money is the most important thing, especially in this pandemic,” she said.