HOMILY TRANSCRIPT | Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Walk for Life – University of Santo Tomas, February 17, 2024

Rev. Fr. Filemon dela Cruz, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines; Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., university rector; my dear Dominican fathers and brothers; administrators, faculty, personnel, and students of the university; dearly beloved in Christ,

Together, we walk for life.

This is the theme we have chosen for our Walk for Life 2024. We want to highlight the fact that in life, we cannot walk alone. As we uphold, promote, and defend the sacredness of life and the dignity of every person, we cannot be alone. We need one another. We need to journey together. An African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Indeed, our defense and promotion of a culture of life in our society today is not a short-term engagement or a temporary battle. From experience, we know that as long as there are subtle and not so subtle attacks against the family and human life, we will be there to register our firm objection and make sure that our united stand is heard.

Today, I would like to honor and appreciate all of you who have been at the forefront of our mission to proclaim the Gospel of Life, a message lovingly received day after day by the Church and preached with dauntless fidelity as good news to the people of every age and culture. For some of you, this has been your life-long task and advocacy. Thanks to all of you, missionaries for the Gospel of Life, we can fulfill our prophetic role in a rapidly changing world that is oftentimes more welcoming to a civilization of death and so hostile to a civilization of life and love. I encourage you to continue to be passionate in your ministry. Do not be disheartened if sometimes you feel that what you have been doing is not even noticed or ends up in an apparent failure. Take courage. You are not alone. As the prophet Isaiah said in the first reading, “The Lord will guide you alwaysand give you plenty even on the parched land.He will renew your strength,and you shall be like a watered garden,like a spring whose water never fails.”

The theme “Together, we walk for life,” is also a challenge for us to explore new pathways to respond better to the dominant values of our contemporary times. Kailangan na rin nating harapin ang katotohanan na napakaraming isyu sa pamilya at lipunan ngayon ang hindi na maaaring sagutin ng “Huwag ka nang magtanong. Sumunod ka na lang.” We need to engage in more listening and dialogue. This is part of walking for life. Yes, we are clear about our teachings on the different issues connected with life and family. But we also need to rethink our approaches, methodologies, and strategies. How do we deal with the dilemmas and complexities of modern families, the irregular situations in the home, the diversity in understanding identity and personhood, the wounds caused and inflicted because of polarization even in the home? Pope Francis has pointed us to the style of synodality so we can listen and discern together. It is important that all of us here in this walk must help each other to become a synodal Church in mission.

Jesus, in our Gospel today from St. Luke, gave us the best example of how to walk for life together. He dined and dialogued with the known sinners of His time. He called Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him. He attended the banquet which Levi prepared in his house. He had no problem being on the same table with a large crowd of tax collectors! He told the scribes and pharisees who were complaining about his impertinent behavior, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.

I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” We must have the same boldness and audacity of Jesus. If we want to walk together for life, we must learn to be all things to all as St. Paul would say in his letter to the Corinthians.

Yes, our society today needs teachers that can lead others to the right path and to the right choices. We must not abandon this mission of being teachers and catechists of the Gospel of Life. But we must also seriously consider what St. Paul VI said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” Families today, including and especially the young people, need accompaniment in their journey. They don’t need more judgments and condemnations. To lead people to the truth, we must do so in love. Truth in charity. Walking together for life. This is where the Holy Spirit is leading us today. May we become active proclaimers of the Gospel of life together. Mabuhay ang pamilyang Pilipino! Sama-sama nating ipagtanggol ang buhay! Together, let us walk for life! Amen. (Photo by Kyler Bernardo/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)



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