National Bible Sunday 2009: In honor of the life transformed by the Word of God
National Bible Week at the Big Dome
In response to the call on Bible Societies to celebrate a special Pauline year (June 2008-June 2009) as an opportunity to extend service to the Catholic Church, the Philippine Bible Society took part in a Pauline feast that was to be the biggest and grandest in the countrys history.
On January 25, 2009, nearly 20,000 Filipino faithfuls trooped to the Araneta Coliseum for a triple celebration. The Sunday event billed I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel, commemorated the 2000th birth anniversary and the conversion of St. Paul, and served as the culmination of the National Bible Week and National Bible Sunday, as well as the Ecumenical Week. The Philippine Bible Society (PBS) partnered with Pauline Congregations in the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and lay leaders headed by Madam Judy Araneta-Roxas and former Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, to stage the event.
A solemn procession followed by a jubilant and colorful enthronement of the Bible commenced the ecumenical prayer service participated in by evangelical church leaders. Bp. Nathanael Lazaro (IEMELIF), Bp. Daniel Arichea (UMC), Dr. Jonathan Exiomo (CAMACOP) and Rev. Edgar Ebojo, PBS Translation Manager, shared reflections on the theme while PBS General Secretary Nora Lucero led the reading of the responsorial Psalm.
A celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided over by Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales with 75 other bishops concelebrating, followed the ecumenical service. Archbishop Joseph Edward Adams, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, spoke on the significance of the Jubilee Year of Saint Paul while Bp. Arturo Bastes, the PBS Board President and Chairman and head of the CBCP Episcopal Commission of the Biblical Apostolate, gave the homily. The Jubilee prayer to Saint Paul was lead by Bp. Honesto Ongtioco of the host Diocese of Cubao.
The theme for National Bible Week 2009 (January 19-25) — May they be One, is a call for everyone to respond to Jesus prayer in John 17:21 for his followers to be united. The event at the Araneta Coliseum is proof that Filipinos can heed this call. More than mere a Pauline celebration or a National Bible Sunday/Ecumenical Week commemoration, the event became a proclamation of the transforming power of Gods Word in the life of the apostle Paul — touched and changed 2000 years ago, and in the lives of modern day believers. It is an undeniable testimony that Filipinos can set aside differences, live unashamed of the Gospel, and together pray and work for the healing and transformation of our land.