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Homily on the occasion of the Holy Thursday Celebration

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat! Sa misa pong ito na pinamumunuhan ng inyong abang lingkod ay inaasahang dumalo ang lahat ng mga pari ng Diyosesis upang ipahayag nila ang kanilang pakiki-isa sa obispo sa pangangalaga sa bayan ng Diyos dito sa ating Diyosesis ng San Jose. Nagpapasalamat po tayong sama-sama dahil mayroon tayong isang samahan ng kaparian na nagkakaisa, samahan ng kaparian na nakahandang kalimutan ang sarili, nakahandang magsakripisyo upang makapaglingkod sa Bayan ng Diyos. Ngayong araw na ito, ipapahayag naming sama-sama ang pagkakaisang ito at mga pangako noong kami ay maordinahan ng obispo.

Kung nalulungkot tayo dahil dumarami sa mga namumuno sa atin na inuuna pa ang sariling kapakanan kesa sa iba, lalu na sa mga mahihirap, dapat tayong magsaya ngayon dahil mayroon tayong matatapang at mababait na mga pari na nandirito na nakahandang isantabi ang sarili upang maging lingkod ng bayan ng Diyos. Ipagdasal po ninyo na tunay na isabuhay namin ang mga pangakong ito, upang tunay na makapaglingkod kami sa bayan ng Diyos lalu na sa mga mahihirap.

Sa ating mga pagbasa ngayon pinapaalaala sa atin lalu na kaming mga pari na tayo ay mga taong pinuno ng Espiritu ng Diyos. Tinanggap natin ang Banal na Espiritu ng tayo ay binyagan, noong tayo ay kumpilan, sa pagtanggap sa mga sacramento ng simbahan at kami, sa special na paraan noong kami ay ordinahan at itinalagang mga pari ng Bayan ng Diyos.

Sa National Clergy Retreat noong January 2012 na pinamunuan ni Fr. Reinero Cantalamesa, inumpisahan niya ang talk niya sa pamamagitan ng pag-awit ng "Veni Creator Spiritus - Come Spirit Creator - dumating ka Espiritung naglalalang!" Sinabi niya sa amin na ang kahulugan ng mapuno ng Espiritu Santo ay mapuno ng mapaglalang na pagmamahal ng Diyos sapagkat ang Espiritu Santo ay siyang pagmamahal sa pagitan ng Diyos AMA at Diyos Anak. ( He told us that to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be filled with God's Creative Love because the Holy Spirit is the very charity of God.) Ang sabihin na "iniibig tayo ni Kristo, at sa kanyang pagkamatay ay pinalaya niya tayo mula sa ating mga kasalanan" sa ating pangalawang pagbasa ay pareho lang kapag sinabi "pinuno tayo ng Espiritu Santo."

Ang ating ebanghelyo ay kadugtong ng kuwento tungkol sa panunukso ng diablo kay Hesus. si Hesus pagkatapos siyang tinukso ng dyablo ay bumalik sa Galilea puno ng kapangyarihan ng Esiritu Santo. Ang Banal na Espiritu, ang buhay na pagmamahal sa puso ng Diyos, kagaya sa karanasan ni Hesus, ay pinagkakalooban tayo ng lakas upang tumanggi sa kasalanan at sa tukso ng dyablo. Tuwing Martes, in our night prayer we are always reminded: "Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith." Ang Banal na Espiritu ay nagbibibgay ng lakas sa atin upang maging matatag sa pananampalataya. Kapag pinuno ka daw ng pagmamahal ng Diyos, puede kang maging pinuno upang punuin mo din ng pagmamahal ang mga taong pinagkatiwala sa iyo. If you are a leader you cannot afford to be lost. Hindi ka puedeng mawala! Sabi ni Padre Pio, "Kung Lider ka daw, kahit na isulat mo sa likod mo, "do not follow me, I am also lost!" Many people will still follow you. Therefore we will be accountable not only to the lost of our soul but also to many others who are lost because they followed us.

Kung ang Espiritu ng Diyos ay sumasaatin, kung ibinabad ka sa pagmamahal ng Diyos, hindi mapipigilan ang sarili na tumulong sa mga mahihirap, spiritual man ito o materyal. If the Spirit is upon you, if you have been immersed in God's love you cannot help but share this love or charity to the materially and spiritually poor, to the marginalized both in Society and the Church. Kapag nakikita natin na pinagkakaloob ang pagmamahal at tunay na paglilingkod sa mahihirap dama natin na nahahawakan natin ang Banal na Espiritu. When we see charity being done for the poor, we see and touch also the Holy Spirit. Hearing that Pope Francis I is poor and very close to the poor, is for most of us a clear confirmation that the Hoy Spirit is upon him.

Ang unang Opisyal na sulat ni Papa Benedicto XVI “Deus Caritas Est” ay isang paalala sa ating lahat upang maging saksi ng Diyos na kilala bilang pagmamahal para sa mundo. Pinapaalaala Sa atin na Ang mga nananatili Sa pagmamahal ay nananatili sa Diyos at ang Diyos ay nananatili sa kanila. Nagmamahal tayo, dahil una tayong minahal ng Diyos. The soul and heart of our ministry in the church is pastoral charity. In fact ito ang hinahanap ng tao sa pari. Bishop Dong Lavarias of the Diocese of Iba was sharing to me that when they consulted the parishioners what kind of priests they wanted, majority daw ay nagsabi: “Yung mapagmahal po, madaling malapitan at mabait!” Very few mentioned madasalin o marunong! This in fact is the mark of a Christian… The love that we have for one another. Not Prayer, not poverty, not even chastity nor obedience… If we pray or live poverty, chastity and obedience, it is because we want to grow in our love for God and for one another. St. Paul tells us that in the end, only three things will last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of them all is love.

Si Bishop Dong Lavarias binahagi niya minsan ang matinding religious experience sa isang ordination sa pagpapari na kanyang pinamunuan sa kanyang Diyosesis. He said that while he was listening to the gospel reading on the threefold profession of love of Peter in John 21: 13-19, he felt that Jesus was telling him, “If you do not love me, do not even dare touch my people.” It struck him to the core. It did struck me also: “If you do not love me, do not even dare touch my people.” We love our people because we love the Lord. This love should inspire us and move us to love them just as the Lord loves them. I supposed you already heard the story of Mother Teresa of Calcutta when a journalist went to make an interview with her. It happened that when the journalist came Mother Teresa was cleaning and dressing the wounds of an old person and so he had to wait. When they started the interview, the first thing that the journalist said was “I will not do what you are doing even if they pay me, 1 million dollars!” Mother Teresa remarked, “I will not also do it for a million dollars. I am doing it for Jesus.” My brother priests we will serve God’s people because we love the Lord and not for any other reason... Ito lang dapat ang maging dahilan natin, hindi upang matuwa ang tao sa atin at lalu't higit hindi upang magkamal ng katanyagan, kayamanan o kapangyarihan.

It is good to know that the soul of the ministry of the deacons, priests and bishops is Pastoral Charity. St. Augustine defines the entirety of our ministry as an office of love: “amoris officium”…. This gives us the certainty that pastoral charity of Jesus Christ will never be lacking in the church.”

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines reminds us that in our ministry we should give preferential option for the poor. In our pastoral charity for the poor let us be guided accordingly. I quote from the directory of the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops: “In order to bear witness to the Gospel before the world and before the Christian community, a deacon, a priest and bishop, in his deeds and his words, should follow the eternal Shepherd, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich’ (2 Cor 8:9) He should be visibly poor, he should be tireless in giving alms and he should lead a modest life which, without detracting from the dignity of his office, nevertheless takes account of the socio-economic conditions of his flock. … he should seek to avoid anything that might in any way alienate the poor, and … eliminate from his possessions every hint of vanity… He should furnish his home in such a way that it never appears unapproachable, so that no one, even the humblest, is ever afraid to visit it. … he should seek to be affable towards everyone, and never indulge in favoritism on the basis of wealth or social standing.”

Sa mga nakaraang buwan ay itinuon tayo ng Diyos sa atin ating mga kapatid na mahihirap, mga handicap, mga may sakit. Nagkaroon ng pastoral visits to the poorest of the poor at handicap, medical and dental mission to the poor, panaginip upang maipatayo ang Tahanan ng Damayanang Kristiyano kung saan ibubuhos ang walang hanggang awa ng Diyos, nagkarooon ng pilgrimage sa mga Bahay ampunan sa mga abandoned ang mga pari.... Si Fr. Bong ang daming nabinyagan sa pagbibisita niya sa mga maysakit, mga milagrong naranasan sa pagbababad sa mahihirap. Alam ko sa kanya kanyang parokya ay marami pang karanasan tayo sa paglilingkod sa mga mahihirap. Ang eleksiyon ng Bagong Sto. Papa, ang pagpili ng pangalan, isang Jesuita ngunit pinili si San Francisco bilang kanyang batayan ng kanyang pastoral na ministeryo ay isang pahiwatig sa akin na ito na nga ang direksiyung tinuturo sa atin ang Banal na Espiritu. Ang Panalangin Ko ay mga maipagpatuloy natin ito ng may sigasig.

My last point is on Fraternal Charity among priests. At times we can be very charitable to others but we fail in our charity to our brother priests in our own community. When I first attended the CBCP Plenary Assembly one brother priest asked me via SMS, asking how my first CBCP meeting was. I texted back and told him, “Mababait naman pala ang mga Obispo” and I described to him how beautiful it was for brothers to live in love. I really appreciated the collegial unity among us. While there were heated discussions, I saw that these were occasions of mutual sharing of ideas and convictions to come up with one single and united stand. This should also be a reality in every presbyterium whether diocesan or religious our relationship should be based on truth and also on love.

“They were sent two by two” this is a reminder that we are not being sent alone. We are sent with our community. My brother priests one of our first tasks is to help build a community of priests who love one another. We should be living witnesses of what we are preaching. Paul VI, once said and was quoted repeatedly by JP II and Benedict XVI: “People no longer listen to preachers but to witnesses and if ever they listen to them it is because they themselves are witnesses.”

I would like to suggest that during this celebration you consciously express your love to every priests in the presbyterium, every person in your parishes and all those you can consider as partners in the mission (start with those who are present in this celebration). Ipahayag ang inyong pagmamahal galing sa puso sa mga mahihirap na kilala ninyo, yaong binisita natin at doon sa hindi pa natin naaabot sapagkat sa pamamagitan nila ay ipapakita sa atin ng Diyos ang kanyang espesyal na pagmamahal at sa totoo lang sila din ay kabahagi natin sa misyon ni Hesus. This may seem to be a simple, ordinary invitation and yet this is truly the mark of a true Christian: “Thus, they will know that you are my disciples by your love.” We should always consciously work for unity among us deacons, priests and bishops. After the September 11 bombing, the wars and the many calamities that we had gone through in the world, the call for unity is not just a sign of the times but it is something that our people demand from their leaders, especially from their spiritual leaders.

Mga kapatid na pari, ang responsibilidad at trabahong pinagkatiwala sa atin ay napakalaki at napakalawak. Napakaliit natin sa harapan ng kabundok na responsibilidad na ipinatong sa ating balikat. Kailangan natin ang isa't isa upang magampanan natin na tama at ganap ang mga ito. Kailangan nating payamanin at suportahan ang isa't isa. Mas malakas tayo kung tayo ay nagkakaisa. We are stronger if we work as a collegial body, not only because many heads are better than one but, because we generate the presence of the Good Shepherd in our midst if we love one another. Kung kasama natin ang isa't isa at si Hesus, mayroon tayong tapang, lakas at tatag para magawa natin ang lahat ng dapat nating gawin hanggang ito magkaroon ng kaganapan. Samahan nawa tayo ng ating Inang Maria, Ina ng Mabuting Pastol at Ina nating lahat sa pagpastol ng Bayan ng Diyos dito sa Diyosesis ng San Jose. Sa ating pagganap sa tawag ng paglilingkod yakapin sana tayo ng Diyos ng kanyang nag-uumapaw na pagmamahal. San Francisco de Asissi, Ipanalangin mo kami. Apu San Jose, ang manggagawa, Ipanalangin mo Kami. Amen.

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