Thomasians should spread the gospel and emulate the migrant Filipinos who “smuggled evangelization” into their host countries, the head of the Dominican order said.
“Continue to be smugglers of the faith. Smugglers because that’s how Filipinos evangelize [others] through means that are non-formal,” Master of the Order of Preachers Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P told attendees of the university-wide retreat Ambag 500 last Wednesday.
Timoner cited the experience of a Filipina domestic helper in Israel who evangelized the son of a Jewish couple she works for.
“Truly, the gift that we have received 500 years ago is the gift that we continue to share with our brothers and sisters,” he added.
The first baptism in the Philippines took place in Cebu and was administered to the natives by Fr. Pedro Valderrama in 1521. The event marked the birth of Christianity in the country, home of about 70 million Filipino Catholics.
Quoting American writer John Allen, Timoner said the Filipinos are the “new Irish” since the Philippines has become the principal suppliers of priests and nuns to local churches worldwide, especially to countries that are considered “missionary territories.”
He said taking up the cross should not be a “command” but rather a reminder of keeping the baptismal promise of following Jesus, renouncing evil, and demonstrating compassion to others.
“To take up the cross is not a command for us to take up the cross we left somewhere but a reminder for us to be faithful to the cross that we received when we are baptized on our foreheads. To be faithful to our baptismal promise is to follow Jesus and reject evil and do good,” the head of the Dominican order said.
The cross, Timoder added, should be a manifestation that no one would be walking alone, especially during trying times.
“When we have our back to the wall, when we find ourselves at a dead-end, with no light and no way of escape, when it seems that God himself is not responding, we should remember that we are not alone,” Timoner quted Pope Francis as saying.
He noted that Dominican missionaries have not left the war victims in Ukraine, which is under attack by Russian forces.
The Ambag 500 retreat, which started last Wednesday and will end on April 29, is in line with the quincentennial of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. It is also the highlight of the activities celebrating the University’s 411th foundation anniversary. F – M.D. Jucom