Cardinal Jose Advincula, archbishop of Manila, called on the faithful to follow the example of Saint John the Baptist who stood for truth even to the extent of offering his life for it.
“Let us follow the courage of Saint John the Baptist that came from his faith in God,” said the prelate in Filipino.
“Let us all be courageous in proclaiming the truth,” he said in his homily during the celebration of the feast of Saint John the Baptist in Manila’s Quiapo district on Thursday, June 23.
Cardinal Advincula said that proclaiming the truth to fight evils brought about by lies is the mission of Christians.
“Like Saint John the Baptist, may we become instruments of blessings for others; proclaim the good news and show mercy and compassion for others,” said the cardinal.
He cited the story of the saint who, according to the Gospel, was beheaded for criticizing Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother.
On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter, Salome, danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom.
When Salome asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
Although Herod was appalled by the request, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed by beheading in the prison.
Fight fake news
Cardinal Advincula has repeatedly challenged the faithful, especially the youth, to stand for truth and help combat disinformation amid what he earlier described as the “crisis of truth” in the country.
Speaking at the Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of St. Titus Brandsma on May 28, he asked Catholics to use social media as a “pulpit” to evangelize and defend the truth.
“If there are forces that use social media to deceive and spread lies, let us combat them by flooding it with the truth of God’s word,” said the cardinal.
While he acknowledged that the task is not easy, he stressed that when truth is at stake, “remaining apathetic and silent is a sin.”
Cardinal Advincula also exhorted the faithful to be inspired by the saint’s “unwavering pursuit of truth.”
“Let us imitate St. Titus in his unwavering courage to proclaim the truth that can never be changed,” he said.
He also cited the role of the media and described the press as “the power of the word against the violence of arms.”
“It is the power of our fight for the truth,” added the cardinal.
Brandsma, whom Pope Francis declared a saint along with nine others on May 15, is being described as a journalist-martyr of the 20th century.
Born in 1881, the Dutch Carmelite priest, theologian, journalist and author wrote and spoke out against the Nazis’ anti-Jewish laws and propaganda.
In January 1942, he was arrested after trying to persuade Dutch Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda.
When Brandsma refused, he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp in February 1942, where he died by lethal injection in July that year at the age of 61.