Do good! Seek justice!

(Unity Statement of NCCP and CBCP on the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity)

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines marked the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023 with the Regional and Provincial Celebrations from Bohol, Cebu, Mindoro, Baguio Benguet, Pampanga and Metro Manila areas. This year’s observance bears the theme, “Do good! Seek justice! (Isaiah 1:17).

The texts were prepared by a group of Christians from Minnesota (where in May 2020 George Floyd, an African American man, was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis).

The subject of justice is a burning issue. Inequality, violence and prejudice worsen within a society that struggles to witness to a culture of peace and unity.

Isaiah’s times were not so different from ours. Wars, rebellions, the pursuit of wealth, power, idolatry and the marginalization of the poor had led the people of Israel astray. The prophet uses harsh words to call his people back to a path of conversion, and he points the way to a return to the original spirit of the covenant God made with Abraham.

“Do good; seek justice.”

What does it mean to do good? It means that we need to be open to the idea of learning, and that requires effort on our part. Each day, there is always something to understand or something to improve. We can always start again if we have made a mistake.

What does it mean to seek justice? This is a treasure that we should yearn and search for as the goal of our actions. Practicing justice helps us learn to do good, because it means we better understand the will of God, which is our good.

Isaiah offers concrete examples. The people most preferred by God are the helpless, the oppressed, the indigenous peoples, the orphans and the widows, because they are the most defenseless. God invites his people to take practical care of others, especially those who are unable to assert their rights. Religious practices, rites, sacrifices and prayers are not pleasing to God if they are not matched by the pursuit and practice of goodness and justice.

“Do good; seek justice.”

This Theme urges us to support others, to have a watchful eye and practically help those in need. Our journey of conversion requires us to open our hearts, minds and arms to others, especially toward those who suffer.

“The desire and the search for justice have always been inscribed in the human conscience,” wrote a modern revolutionary mystic in 2006. “God himself put them in our hearts. But despite the conquests and progress made throughout history, how distant we are from fulfilling God’s plan! The wars that are still being fought today, as well as terrorism and ethnic conflicts, are the sign of social and economic inequalities, injustice, hatred…”

“Without love and respect for the individual and attention to his or her situation, personal relationships may be correct, but they can also become bureaucratic and incapable of providing decisive answers to human requirements.

“Without love there will never be true justice, goods will never be shared between rich and poor, and there will never be attention to the life and specific needs of each man and woman.”

“Do good; seek justice.”

To live for Ecumenism to arrive to a more united world means taking the wounds of humanity upon ourselves and carrying out small gestures that can help build up the human family.

Despite all these challenges, we will face the new year with high hopes. We have learned about the absolution of the perjury case filed against ten human rights defenders from a reprisal suit from the government. As we celebrate this victory, we vow to continue to be vigilant and committed to seeking the truth. We continue the call to do good and pursue justice, speaking truth to power as this remains to be the main core of our work and ministry. As God’s children, we are here to seek the truth and pursue peace after all.

We will continue to do good by heralding the truth. We do good by protecting those who are being side-lined, those who are afflicted, and whose voices and presence are rendered invisible in our society. We do well by journeying with the vulnerable, the helpless and those who are being persecuted.

We seek justice guided by love, wise as a serpent and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). With the new year that is before us, let us renew our commitment to justice, with the hope and the promise that God’s shalom shall reign for all.


NCCP Acting General Secretary

Chairman, CBCP-ECEA