Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete has called on the lay faithful to cooperate with local government units and avail of the vaccine against Covid-19 as an act of charity to one’s neighbor as the Christian world begins the season of Lent.
“A concrete act of charity which could be asked of us in this critical time is to say ‘yes’ to the Covid-19 vaccination, not only for our protection but for the protection of our loved ones and our community,” he said in his homily during a concelebrated Ash Wednesday Holy Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Dumaguete City.
He also said in an interview that, based on a decision following the plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines last month, they will support the LGUs in giving the correct information “due to the many misconceptions, conspiracy theories, and controversies surrounding the Covid vaccine,” to achieve the targeted 70 percent of the population for herd immunity.
Cortes said the diocese will make available the church grounds and even its schools as alternative venues once the government announces the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, he also said in his homily that entering into the season of Lent, people are once again invited to “repent, return to the Lord, and believe in the Gospel,” particularly on the promise of eternal life to those who believe in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
“This sacred time, amidst a pandemic, is an invitation for us to turn to the Lord and remember His great love for each one of us. We remember with profound gratitude – a love that has moved Jesus to offer himself for us on the Cross in obedience to the Father’s will.”
In this 40-day season of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, Cortes said that people not only respond to the Lord but should also be mindful of, and respond to the needs of their neighbors.
“Fasting makes us one with the sufferings of our countrymen, especially those who are afraid, those who are anxious, and hungry because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Giving alms makes us reach out to families in great need of food and financial assistance. Prayer makes us anchored in the Lord through faith and live in hope amidst the uncertainties of life,” the bishop said.
He said there are so many ways for people to serve neighbors in the midst of the many problems during these trying times. “In Lent, we not only rend our garments but we also get to break down the walls that separate us from those in need. Through Lent, we not only journey towards conversion, but we are also helped to find ourselves transformed into compassionate persons, by the grace of God,” Cortes said.*PNA