Filipino Christians were reminded to continue living their faith amid persecutions as they observed “Red Wednesday” this week in honor of persecuted Christians around the world.
More than 2,000 parishes across the Philippines joined the campaign to remember Christian martyrs on Nov. 27 by shining red light on facades of churches and other structures.
In the Manila Archdiocese, the observance was highlighted by an ecumenical prayer and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Manila Cathedral.
In his homily, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan reminded the faithful that “martyrdom is not just about dying for the faith, but living for it no matter what the cost might be.”
“They will seize you, says the Gospel. They will persecute you and lead you before governors and princes,” he told those who attended the celebration.
“They will file sedition cases against you — although it wasn’t worded exactly like that, but it will lead to your witnessing,” he added.
Bishop David is one of the religious leaders who has been linked to an alleged plot to oust Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte from power.
The prelate has been vocal in his criticism against the president’s 3-year-old “war” against illegal drugs that has reportedly resulted in the killing of thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers.
In his homily, Bishop David stressed the idea of Christian redemption that is not only saving the good, but everyone, including sinners.
He said he has been misunderstood many times because of his statements about the victims of illegal drugs.
“They are also people who feel and suffer like us. Yes, we enforce the law but let us save the victims,” he said.
“The only battle we fight is a spiritual battle following the standard of Christ. Like our divine master, we intend for the salvation of all, including sinners,” said the prelate.
He reminded the faithful to pray for their persecutors, “to never learn to hate,” and to conquer evil with good.
In 2016, the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in the United Kingdom initiated the “Red Wednesday” campaign to voice strong support for persecuted Christians.
After the attack of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines in 2017, ACN launched the campaign in the country.
Bishop Edwin Dela Pena of Marawi, who was abducted by Islamic State-inspired gunmen during the five-month battle, said there is a “need of religious freedom” even in the Philippines.
Jonathan Luciano, ACN national director, meanwhile, announced that the “Red Wednesday” observance will soon became an official church celebration in the country.
“So far, the bishops are supporting the institutionalization of ‘Red Wednesday’ starting next year,” he said. “We pray that our request will be granted,” he added.