by Aaron Veloso
Do we still see God in people around us? In my last blog post, “Partners in the Mission Field”, I left you with this important question.
In this particular entry, allow me to reflect on it even more by remembering de motivo Incarnationis – the reason why God became man. Why did God, in all His majesty and glory, come down to earth, live like any other person and finally, endure passion and death on the Cross? The answer is simple. God loved us so much that He deigned to be born, to live with us, to die among us, and, through the Eucharist and through His Holy Spirit, to be with us until the end of time. No wonder the angel told the Blessed Virgin that her son shall be named Emmanuel, meaning ‘God is with us’.
Jesus is always present with us, not only in the Holy Eucharist we receive, but in our fellow men. Did He not admonish us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves? We ought to find Jesus in them, especially in the poor, in those who do not recognize our Lord, and – most difficultly – in our enemies.
This must be one the reason behind the fire in Blessed Pedro Calungsod’s heart, keeping him faithful to his superior and his mission. His concern for the Chammoros fuelled his desire to continue his catechetical work. He loved his mission superior, the old Padre Diego, that he was even willing to shed his blood to save him. And, he reciprocated with love the hate that Hirao and Matapang showed him, not for once cursing them nor attempting to fight back. For living out heroically the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, he merited the crown of martyrdom. Nearly three and a half centuries since that glorious day when the two martyrs shed their blood in the Marianas, we shall now be able to call our katagilungsod a saint.
When I was still in high school, I found it peculiar that there is a difference in the translations of the mottoes of the Congregation of St. Paul of Chartres and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, two religious congregations for women I am particularly close to. The motto of the SPC Sisters is “The love of Christ impels us”, from the Latin Caritas Christi Urget Nos. Meanwhile, the DC Sisters’ is Caritas Christi Crucifie Urget Nos, “The charity of Christ Crucified urges us.” These two mottoes, both lifted from one of St. Paul’s epistles, gave me a greater understanding of the Latin word Caritas.
In Latin, the word of charity and love is the same – caritas. To be charitable is to love. To exercise charity without love is futile. This is the challenge that Blessed Pedro Calungsod gives us today – to show love and charity to people around us, especially those who need it the most.
Many of us are guilty of this. Remembering the words of Mother Teresa, we should discover the paradox – like she did – to love until it hurts, until there is no more hurt, only more love. That is why I always remind my fellow anti-RH Bill, to never back down when challenged, but never seek revenge, never insult, never get angry, and never curse. God loves our enemies and we ought to do the same. To do otherwise would be to make a mockery of our faith. To do so would be to follow in the footsteps of Christ. It is true that this is difficult, but it is not impossible.
Let me close with a moving song that I am particularly attached to, and which I believe sums up what I have wrote: “We remember how You loved us, to Your death, and still we celebrate, for You are with us here. And we believe that we will see You, when You come in Your glory, Lord. We remember, we celebrate, believe.”
May the love of Christ Crucified, through the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, impel us to love the least of our brethren, all for the greater glory of God.
About the blogger
Aaron Veloso has been helping with Blessed Pedro’s canonization since 2008. Counting Church history as one of his interests, his undergraduate thesis tackled the evolution of the Catholic Church in the Philippines vis-à-vis the evolving forms of government in the country. He is also the Prefect of the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception in the University in the Philippines