I remember when I was still a college seminarian, Msgr. Ping Molina was the Vicar General of the Diocese and at the same time, he was the parish priest of the Virac Cathedral. He was famous in the country because, during the time of Bishop Jose Sorra, the first bishop of the diocese, he crafted a program for the youth implemented in the whole country called the “Youth Encounter.” During the time of Bishop Manolo De Los Santos, the second bishop of the diocese, Msgr. Molina designed another program for the diocese called “New Evangelization Pastorale.”

This program slowly got a wider application as it was beginning to be implemented in the Bikol region. But when Msgr. Ping died, the program, which was not yet finished, had to be stopped. Today, this program is continued within the diocese of Virac through the direction of some priests, particularly Fr. Jappy whose licentiate thesis in Rome was all about the program as instructed by the late Msgr. Ping.

This incident crossed my mind because Msgr. Ping introduced in his “New Evangelization Pastorale” the so-called “Basic Faith Community.” When Msgr. Ping explained this program, one priest commented: “Monsignor, why is it that we have Basic Faith Community or BFC while the whole Church in the Philippines has the Basic Ecclesial Community or BEC?” Msgr. Ping replied: “It is because the New Evangelization program of the Catholic Church focuses on faith which is the foundation of the ecclesial community.”

The priest argued: “But why focus on faith rather than on the Church?” Msgr. Ping responded: “Faith is the foundation of the Church. Without faith, there can never be a Church.” This makes us understand why here in the diocese of Virac, we have BFC instead of BEC as practiced in the local Church of the Philippines.

Today, we celebrate the Basic Ecclesial Community Sunday, giving importance to the BEC which is the thrust of the Philippine Church in all its local Churches. In our diocese of Virac, we renamed the BEC into BFC as we focus more on the fundamental aspect of New Evangelization, Faith.

This BEC/BFC is centered on a community that reminds us that we are pilgrims here on earth not as individuals but as a community. The parish community is a community of communities under the shepherding of the parish priest. It is a bigger family whose pastor is a priest, the collaborator of the Bishop. The Bishop is the shepherd of the whole Christian family of the local Church in the island diocese of Catanduanes who governs the local Catholic Church together with the priests and under the guidance of the Pope.

It is important to know that we live as a community because salvation is granted to us through the Church which is the community of believers. We are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ and are one family whose Father is no other than God. As brethren in Christ, we must care for one another. We cannot be Cain to Abel, a brother who does not care for his brother. Rather, we are a Christ to each of us. We must love one another and help each other especially the needy. The deepest meaning of being a Christian is that we care for one another.

Without concern for our neighbors, we cannot claim to be true followers of Christ who sacrificed His life for you, me, and others. This is the essence of a synodal Church: We are a community of believers in Christ who care for each other and walk together toward eternal salvation in heaven.

The Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity reminds us of this truth: we cannot live as Christians except as a community. The Holy Trinity is a community of three divine persons who communicate with one another through love. As God, they share everything that they have to one another.

This Holy Trinity is our model and the source of grace and inspiration to live as Christian communities or BEC/BFC. Caring for one another means sharing with others whatever we have especially with the needy. We must not hesitate or be afraid to do this because Jesus Christ will help us and empower us to be real brothers or sisters to one another. He will never abandon us if we are faithful to Him. Indeed, He will fulfill what He promised in the Gospel: “Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the world. Amen” (Jn 28:20b).


(White) Cycle B/Year II (May 26, 2024)

Dt 4:32-34, 39-40/Rom 8:14-17/Mt 28:16-20

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