End Poverty and Inequality: Institute Social Reforms   (Sacrificial Discipleship)

Session 5
4th Sunday of Lent
March 18, 2012
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5,6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not be perish but have an everlasting life” –John 3:16


The Cross is the most famous and widespread Catholic symbol inside and outside our churches. It is an essential component of discipleship. Without it, discipleship lacks meaning and substance. The Cross is not simply a means of self-suffering.  In fact, it may lose its deep meaning if there is no willingness on the part of the disciple to share and participate in the suffering of other to make their burden light.

We have attachment to the cross because we believe it symbolizes Christ’s love to us when he died for our sins. The cross becomes a source of power and the symbol of our salvation.


1)      To deepen the participants’ understanding of the cross and its significance

2)      To provide reverence and solemn appreciation of the cross;

3)      To facilitate the concretizing of faith towards service for others especially to the marginalized sectors of our society.

Suggested Activity: Paint your own Cross

Guide Questions:


  1. Explain your cross.
  2. What does the cross mean to you? To your life? To your family? To your work? To your community?
  3. Do you see any relation or connection between the cross and your  life? If yes, what are these?
  4. Why do we need to sacrifice? When did you practice it? How did it feel?




Poverty and inequality in our country has been with us since we became a republic in 1946. The income of the nation’s top one (1) per cent (or the top 185,000 families of the country’s total number of families for 2009) is equivalent to the total income of the country’s bottom 30 percent (totalling 5.5 million families). This one percent of the families controls the economic, political, social (media), cultural, and judicial systems in the country. With wealth and power and special connection, they use these advantages to influence politics and policies for their own vested interest creating great imbalances that deny or delay justice for  the 99 percent of the population.

In 2009, government family income and expenditures survey shows: the incidence of poverty may have gone down from 35.15% in 1988 to 26.49% in 2009, but the real numbers of the poor have increased from 21.3 to 23.9 million. By “poor” we mean per capita income of less than P46/day. And of these 23.9 million, 9.4 million are “food poor” who live on P32/day, not even enough to meet the minimum 2000 calories/day.

The government has no shortage of anti-poverty programs.  But they lack political will to implement it.  For instance, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has not been completed after 23 years of implementation. Themassive conversion of many agricultural lands in housing and recreation facilities has made land acquisition even more difficult for the landless farmers.  This flawed implementation of CARP is best illustrated in the five-decade struggle of Hacienda Luisita farmers, who until now awaits the actual distribution of their lands.There are other social problems that aggravate poverty and expose government’s inability to resolve them, such as labor unrest, insurgency, and displacement of urban and rural poor.

The Social Weather Stations surveys show that from 1998-2010 the average percentage of hungry families was 13.7.  Hunger rose steadily in 2005-2010 (as high as 23.7 % in December 2008 and 24 % in December 2009). This data shows that government effort to reduce hunger has been dismal.

Government says in its Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 that our economy grew an average of 3% a year for the past thirty years and our real per capita income has grown only 20% over that period.  In contrast, our neighbours’ per capita incomes have grown 400% (Malaysia), 500% (Thailand), 1100% (China), in the process eradicating absolute poverty. There is something wrong with our economic system. Do we want this to continue?


We have our present crosses: Our society has been suffering from selfishness and social injustice. The powerful and the elite who comprise the one (1) % of the population and have accessed to all resources, e.g. money, politics and policies, are manipulating and exploiting the 99 % of the population for their vested interest. This results in inequality and poverty of the many.  Ours is still a feudalistic society dominated by a leadership class that manages to rotate among themselves the control of power through changes in administration.

If all of us learn how to share and give ourselves to works of justice and charity, there could be no poor and marginalize in our society. Christ showed us the way how life should be lived to attain peace and harmony. He is the way, the truth and the life. He worked for justice, charity and reconciliation to give life to the poor, the sick and the powerless. He fought for the dignity and rights of the defenceless.So we, too, should have enough strength to follow Christ in our work for social justice. The early church took Christ teaching of sharing all things in common (Acts 4:32-35), helping the orphans and widows in their need and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption (James 1:27), loving our sisters and brothers in need not only with words and with our lips but in truth and in deed (1John 3:17-18).

The cross symbolizes God’s love for us. If we love God and our neighbours, especially those who have been deprived and oppressed, we should also be ready to carry the crosses of others to lighten their burdens.

The best way to love is to do sacrifices.

Jesus literally died on the cross because of His love for us. This is clearly expressed in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ crucifixion was the worst form of suffering. He was horribly beaten, spat on, mocked and made fun of. He did not simply die there on the cross; instead He experienced the most painful and shameful form of dying.

As followers of Christ, we are invited to carry our crosses and share the suffering of others. Concretely, this means living in solidarity with the marginalized sectors of our society their struggle for justice and equality.

Call To Action

Overcoming poverty and inequality requires collective effort and decisive leadership committed for social reform.. Together, let us call the President refocus the whole governance system in support people-centered development porgrams  .  In particular, we call for the:

  1. Immediate distribution  of all CARPABLE lands, especially those who have already been resolved by the Court, like Hacienda Lusita;
  2. Resolution of labor disputes such as in the cases of PALEA, Fasap, Dusit, and Hanjin workers, among others.
  3. Utilization of Conditional Cash Transfer program for rural empowerment, e.g., environment protection, climate change adaptation, housing, and rural and urban poor infrastructures, among others.
  4. Changing the Private Partnership program into PUBLIC-POOR PARTNERSHIP program, to make it truly inclusive.  Therefore, let us call on economic managers, the National Economic Development Authority to review the Philippine Development Plan and adopt a development framework that directly responds to the needs and aspirations of the social sectors.  The National Summit on Poverty, Inequality and Social Reforms, held in the last quarter of 2011, provides a wealth of data about the status and demands of the poor.

Doing of fasting and penance, and sharing the things we deprive ourselves of, for the benefit of others.