By Sem. Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban
December 27, 2018
Today, at the Clergy Christmas Thanksgiving Mass at St. Martin of Tours Parish – Diocesan Shrine of Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa in this town, Cubao Bishop and Malolos Apostolic Administrator Honesto F. Ongtioco led the celebration of the priests of the Diocese of Malolos. Attended by over a hundred of the Diocese’s more than 200 priests, the celebration was hosted by the Vicariate of St. Martin of Tours of the diocese’s eastern district.
To live out the Word of God
Reflecting on the role of St. John as a Gospel writer, Ongtioco said, “People like watching the news in television because they want to learn of what is happening. The same goes for us. We priests are called to be like St. John. John was a very good writer and news caster. As chosen by God we do not only hear the Word being given to us, we are called to speak of it.” Emphasizing on how priests could do this, he presented three things, saying, “We can only become good news writers and news casters for God if we witness, hear and experience God in our lives.”
Noting the value of the truth, he stressed that, “As St. John said, ‘If anyone says ‘I love God’, but hates his brother, he is a liar.’ (1 John 4:20). Those who do not live in God’s ways is a liar. We could be liars even as priests when we do not live our commitments.” He added that, “Yet what we could always hold on to is to trust God. Because despite our failures, our shortcomings, whenever we choose God, God fills us with love.”
Make the Gospel alive in people’s hearts
Challenging the priests, he said, “The way we live our priesthood is how we are able to write God’s News in the hearts of each person we serve.” He added that, “And so, if you are unfaithful to the Gospel and your vocation, that will affect the faithful. We have to make them alive in the faith!”
He noted that priests could only do so by becoming instruments of God. He said, “Remember, we are priests for God! We are used by God to become his instruments, as channels of the Divine Love. It is his love that brings life and hope to all!” He added, “May God assist us in writing the “fifth Gospel”, meaning the Word of God being lived by our own faith, by our own life.”
The world needs us
Pointing out the place of the priest in the world, he said, “The world needs us. Because amidst the many troubles, violence, challenges, fake news, God’s word is here. We need to proclaim it with our lives, in our preaching and in our brotherhood.”
He added that, “Like Jesus, who wrote God’s love through his own blood by the sacrifice on the Cross, may we too be not discouraged or lack faith or be afraid. We could be afraid of the many challenges ahead of us as priests. But Jesus is here. He is Emmanuel. He is here to shows us that the more we live our ministry, the more Jesus dwells in our hearts and the more we could share him to others.”
The clergy of the Diocese of Malolos serves 110 parishes both in the Province of Bulacan and the City of Valenzuela. The Eucharistic celebration was followed by the Clergy Christmas fellowship held at the parish pastoral center.