“Sana the Bible is always read and lived out. Binabasa, isinasabuhay,” said Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs Rev. Fr. Antonio E. Labiao, Jr. during the 4th Diocesan Biblical Congress held in the Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd last October 22, 2016.
Speaking during the Homily of the Eucharistic Celebration that capped off the said event, Fr. Labiao raised, “Okay may nagbabasa, may Bible study. Pero, isinasabuhay ba iyan?”
The Vicar General raised this need to live out the Holy Bible after sharing that the Bible is a love letter of God to man that gives three important words–three important lessons to guide each follower of Christ, especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“The Bible is a long love letter ng Diyos. Ano ang laman niya? Three important words: Love, Mercy, and Hope. At alam natin na yung pagmamahal na iyan at awa ay ipinakita ng Panginoon sa kanyang gawa–expressions of love and mercy,” he said.
Fr. Labiao cited that Jesus performed basically four ministries: healing, feeding, forgiving, and teaching, which actually revolved around love and mercy. He said, “Pero kung titignan natin na umikot lang ang mga ministry ng Panginoon sa pagpadama ng love and mercy. Healing–pagpagaling. Feeding–pagpakain sa mga nagugutom. Pangtatlo, pagpatawad–forgiving. Pangapat, teaching-pagtuturo.”
In addition, he emphasized that the culmination of these ministries is the Passion of Christ that testify to God’s love and mercy for mankind. The Eucharist, being the celebration of the Passion of Christ, then becomes a celebration of God’s love and mercy and a constant source of hope for all of us.
“So umikot yung love and mercy doon sa ministries na iyon na ginawa ng Panginoon. And then yan ay nagculminate. Tawag sa sacrificial offering ni Jesus, yun ang pinakamataas na ministry na ginawa niya sa buhay niya,” he said. “That’s what we celebrate in the Eucharist. That’s God’s Love and Mercy we celebrate. Diyan niya pinatunayan na totoo yung pagmamahal niya, na totoo yung awa niya. At dahil diyan nagbigay siya ng pag-asa sa buong mundo.”
Fr. Labiao also expounded the fact that all formation programs of the Church are “anchored on the Bible and the teaching of the Church, especially Social Teachings,” it is a must we follow Christ’s example stated in the Bible so that there will be orderly formation and evangelization programs for the Church’s different ministries.
The 4th Diocesan Biblical Congress is spearheaded by the Biblical Apostolate of the Diocese of Novaliches. This year’s theme, “Strengthening the Family Through the Word and the Eucharist”, was meant to give highlight to the Year of the Eucharist and the Family locally celebrated in the Philippines in line with the preparations for the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Country.
Speakers during the said Congress were Chief Justice Hilario Davide, who instituted the importance of the family both from the Bible and from the Philippine Constitution, and Bro. Carmelo Cortez, who gave a talk on Death and noted the importance of the Bible as preparation for the next life.
According to Biblical Apostolate Director Rev. Fr. Hernando Milan Batomalaque, the said speakers were chosen on the basis of their good family background and devotion to the Bible.
“These persons really have the experience of the word and the Eucharist. They are devoted…they are faithful to the Church’s teachings…na makikita natin sa kanilang pamumuhay. In short, isinasabuhay nila ang Salita Ng Diyos,” he said.
Fr. Batomalaque said that the 4th Diocesan Biblical Congress is part of the series of activities they have planned for the year from the directives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (CBCP-ECBA).
He said, to celebrate the upcoming Year of BEC in 2017, the Diocesan Biblical Apostolate plans to coordinate with BECs to bring the Bible closer to its members. In addition, he also hopes to hold the 5th Diocesan Biblical Congress in 2017 based on the success of the current Congress.
Meanwhile, participants of the 4th Diocesan Biblical Congress found Chief Justice Davide’s talk most memorable especially on the aspect of the family’s sacredness in the viewpoint of the Philippine Constitution. One of them was Ms. Rose Enriquez of Caritas Novaliches.
“Yung family, hindi lang nasa Bible, pero supported din dun sa ating Constitution. Ibigsabihin ang Pilipino, being a Catholic Country, ay talagang naniniwala na may Panginoon tayo na dapat nating alalahanin sa lahat ng ginagawa natin,” she said.
Asked why she finds this important, she explained, “Kasi ngayon…marami tayong mga challenges tungkol sa family. Kasama na diyan meron tayong batas sa Congress, yung same-sex marriage, meron tayong extra-judicial killings na yun ay makakasira sa ating pamilya. At yan ay naka-enshrine sa ating Constitution na dapat intact ang pamilya.”
There were approximately 250 participants who attended the 4th Diocesan Biblical Congress. The said participants were delegates of the Commission on Family and Life, Social Action Commission, Basic Ecclesial Communities, and Biblical Apostolate, members of the Religious, and other members of mandated religious organizations from the Diocese. (~Minnie De Luna)