IMUS Bishop Chito Tagle in his homily at the Thanksgiving Mass for Life held at the Manila Cathedral last March 23, 2011, called for developing “spirituality towards the defense of life”. That was not only superb; it was very opportune at this point in time when working relentlessly for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill seems to be the main obsession of some legislators, and, therefore, also of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations that see the senselessness of rushing a legislative measure that is not really urgent, if not utterly useless.
Saying that there are many forces against life, the good bishop saw the necessity of a spirituality surging from those who are working in the ministry of life and the family. The first questions he posed were “Are we coming from a deep commitment to God? Or are we coming from other agenda which in the end might prove to be counter to life? What makes someone a prophet of life and a prophet for life?
Bishop Tagle took the cue from the readings of that day and used the biblical figure of prophet Jeremiah in the first reading and Jesus in the Gospel as the icons of the spirituality in the defense of life. Paradoxically, the way towards defending life is through sacrifice and even death. He says: “For it is only in life given in service that this life is promoted. Two figures—Jeremiah and Jesus. Life threatened but they took the threat and transformed the threat into love, service. And life is not threatened anymore. Life remains a gift given to others and others live because of Jesus.”
This kind of spirituality is the presence of Christ in one’s heart. And since “ex abundantia cordis os loquitur” (from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks), this spirituality manifests itself in ones thoughts, words and actions. For sure, those seemingly rabid and angry pro-lifers that mouth dirty expletives in emails and social networks are not at bosom-length with this way of life. Some have comfortably called their very own bishops as “tanga” and their pro-life co-workers as “satanic”; an allusion perhaps to those who accused Christ as driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul. And neither are they too close, those who are pro-life in intention but pro-death in vocation and behavior. Of course, the Lord has exhorted his disciples to be cunning as snakes yet innocent as doves—but this does not include unchristian conduct that, at the end of the day, betrays the very intention we are working for.
At the end of the homily, the bishop admonished “We hope that our defense of life will go to that deep part of ourselves, where Jesus has the Holy Spirit transforming us into true prophet of life, patterned after Jesus Himself.”