Palm Sunday: Giving, loving make week holy
Stewardship must hurt.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas imparted this message to the Catholic faithful who will have their palm fronds blessed in churches today in observance of Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent and the start of the most solemn period of Holy Week.
“The measure of true stewardship is not how much we give but how much we keep. When we have learned to cheerfully keep nothing for ourselves, we have moved closer to the example of Jesus,”
Villegas said in his prepared homily.
“Stewardship does not wait for the surplus. Stewardship must hurt. Stewardship must disturb us. Stewardship that does not hurt is nothing. Stewardship is leaving our zones of comfort and convenience,” he said.
“Let the humiliation of Jesus and his dignity and generosity with which he carried it put to shame our many shallow excuses for not giving,” Villegas added.
Also called Passion Sunday, today recalls the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey into the Holy City where he was welcomed like a king by a crowd who laid palm branches and cloaks in his path days before he suffered and died on the cross.
What makes this week holy is not the shame and humiliation that Jesus endured but God’s infinite love, Villegas said in an interview.
“God puts so much love into these days and no one has loved in the same way that Jesus loved. So this Holy Week will become holy if we also pour much love into it,” he said.
According to the CBCP head, Lenten sacrifices such as fasting become no more than an “ego massage” if the purpose is only to test one’s ability to resist food.
“It’s just an ego massage. It’s just like telling yourself, ‘Wow, I have the will power to do this.’ Self-discipline should have a corresponding component of helping others, and helping others is more important than self-discipline,” he said.
“If you fast, make sure that you share that food or what you saved on food with someone who suffers from hunger, someone who can’t afford because of poverty. The point of fasting is saying no so that you can say yes to the needs of the poor,” he said.
“You must remember, we will be judged not according to how much we sacrifice, but how much we have given, we have loved, we have shared,” the prelate added.
The Church also celebrates today the Alay Kapwa Sunday, a Lenten fund-raising campaign.
Earlier, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asked the faithful to generously give to Alay Kapwa, saying the funds collected will be used to help victims of natural calamities.
This year, the Alay Kapwa funds will go to the rehabilitation efforts and the victims of the killer earthquake in Bohol province and Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” which both struck the country last year.
“Please be generous, that in our generosity we become poorer, so that we can enrich others,” Tagle said.
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