Speaking before some estimated 7,000 faithful, both coming from local and foreign delegates of the Divine Mercy devotees in the Divine Mercy Shrine in Marilao, Bulacan, Bishop Tirona explained how we can give witness as a church of the poor.
“Our vocation is to be witnesses of God’s mercy,” said Archbishop Tirona.
“We witness to the fidelity of God to his people. Aside from ‘mercy’, the other definition of “hesed” is enduring fidelity.”
According to the Archbishop, Jesus commissioned his disciples to be witnesses.
“Christian witnessing is not a series of sporadic actions like giving donations. It is a way of life formed by inspiration and commitment.”
He also distinguished between being a reporter and a witness.
“A reporter is emotionally distant from an event. The witness cannot be but in the event, caught in the event, and transformed by the event. ”
Second, a witness is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
“Like a mystic, which is not just someone who experiences extrabodily phenomena; a witness is captured and taken hold by the Holy Spirit.”
“Witnessing is ‘now’ witnessing. The Kingdom of God is at hand. We are to witness the power of God.”
Another point mentioned by the Archbishop is witnessing as a community or a church action.
“Jesus gathered the disciples as a community. He said, ‘The Spirit will come upon you and you will proclaim the Good News of salvation.’ Koinonia is Christian unity.”
Church of the poor
Bishop Tirona stressed on the meaning of the “church of the poor.”
“The Church is “Church of the poor” where the poor are welcome and not rejected; they actively participate … the Church of the poor means the poor can contribute to the enrichment of the gospel in our lives.”
To be a Church of the poor, Archbishop Tirona suggests three things: intimacy with Jesus, embracing his cross, sacrifice and love; the second is immersion in the life of the Church as the ‘Body of Christ’ through sacraments, the food of Christian life; and involvement in people’s lives especially the poor by actively engaging in corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
“Witnessing is sharing in God’s blessings even in the midst of personal suffering and pain. Live with joy the gift of life,” concluded the Archbishop. (FR. LITO JOPSON, CBCP ECSC MEDIA)