Ngayon ay ipinagdiriwang ko ang ika-56 na anibersaryo ng aking kaarawan at ika-8 taong anibersaryo ng aking ordinasyon sa pagka-obispo. Noong nagpaplano po ng aking ordinasyon naisip kong pagsabayin na lamang ang ordinasyon at ang aking birthday upang makatipid ng lakas, oras, at iba pang resources.
Sa pagbabalik-tanaw, nakita at naintindihan ko na ang ordinasyon ko sa pagka-obispo ay isang karanasan ng pagsilang muli. It is an experience of being born again. Ito ay isang karanasan ng nag-uumapaw na pagmamahal ng Diyos, na pakiramdam ko ay nakapagpabago sa akin. Nakaranas ako ng panibagong sigla at apoy sa aking mga ginagawa. Dama ko na nag-uumpisa muli ako. Napagkalooban ako ng bagong trabaho at responsibilidad! Nalulula ako sa napakadaming responsibilidad at trabaho na iniatas sa akin. I felt that I was thrown into a new and vast ocean of responsibilities and possibilities.
I am 8 years old after that rebirth. Kaya mas bata ako ngayon! I thank God for the past 8 years of my life. Of course, I cannot also disregard the fact that I am 56 years old. Salamat sa lahat ng nangyari sa loob ng 56 na taon, sa lahat ng karanasan ng pagmamahal, sa lahat ng mga taong naging bahagi ng buhay ko. Salamat sa lahat ng mga lugar at trabaho kung saan ako pinadala ng Diyos. Salamat sa biyayang maging Obispo kahit mahirap. Salamat lalung-lalo na at na-assign ako sa Diyosesis ng San Jose. Salamat sa kaparian; salamat sa bayan ng Diyos dito sa San Jose. Salamat din sa Diyos sa lahat ng mga hirap, sakit, at sugat na natamo ko na naging dahilan upang lalo pa akong kumapit nang mahigpit sa Diyos. Ganoon din salamat sa mga kahinaan, kasalanan at kakulangan ko, sapagkat lalo ko pang nakikita at napapagtanto na hindi ako puwedeng maging banal na nag-iisa; na kailangan ko ang Diyos at ang mga taong nasa paligid ko.
Sa personal na sulat sa akin ng Santo Papa, na kung saan ay pinaabot niya ang aking pagkakatalaga bilang auxiliary bishop ng Archdiocese of San Fernando, ay binigyan niya ako ng isang mahalagang misyon: “Turuan mo, anak ko, ang mga mananampalataya upang kilalanin nila ang presensiya ni Kristo sa bawat tao, at hanapin siya sa naghihirap at umiiyak lalo na sa mga mahihirap. "Teach, dear son, the faithful to acknowledge the presence of Christ in every man and to find Him in the grieving population especially in the poor.”
I took that as a challenge to have a special love for the poor. During the retreat of the bishops of the Philippines in 2006, I was asked to give a talk on Pastoral Charity of which a bishop should be an expert. In that talk, I suggested that every bishop should be able to put up a desk for the poor in his own office. In the office of the bishop, the poor should receive an initial help even if we have to refer the poor to the Social Action Center. And so if I suggested this, I felt the responsibility to put it up in my office. And therefore, we started this desk for the poor in Angeles City. We had very simple programs for the street children and their parents in coordination with the Holy Angel University Outreach Program, with a Charismatic Community and with the Commission on Family and Life.
We started anew with the formation of counselors to facilitate the opening of a counseling center especially for the poor. This desk, I hope will follow me wherever I go. Sa University of the Assumption, this desk was focused more on financing a program of the Outreach of the University which was the YAKAP. Nakapagpaaral ng mga bata na nakatira sa squatters' area.
Sa ating diyosesis, isang malaking hamon ay yakapin natin ang hamon ni Benedict XVI at ngayon si Papa Francisco na magkaroon tayo ng malawakang "organized charity" upang mas marami pa sa mga kapatid nating may sakit, may kapansanan sa isip at katawan ang ating maabot at mapaglingkuran.
Alam kong kahit na pagsama-samahin ang lahat ng mga religious congregations ay hindi pa rin sapat upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga kapatid nating may sakit, kapansanan, walang matulugang bahay, at iba pa.
Ang panaginip at panalangin ko po ay magkaroon tayo ng isang lugar na kung saan ginaganap ang pagkakawanggawa, kung saan nakakapagdasal nang taimtim, at kung saan nahuhubog tayo lalo na ang ating mga kabataan.
Sa kamay ng Ama natin sa langit ay ini-aalay ko ang lahat. I ask you to join me in this prayer that I composed based on my motto: In Manus Tuas. "Father into your hands, I commend my spirit! In your hands, you mold me into that kind of person that you want me to be! I was and am still so aware that I am so limited; that I need to learn and to know a lot of things. I am still a child in so many ways, God has to take me by the hand to direct and guide me.
Father, I said, if I am in your hands I will be brave and will not be overcome by any fear. I will feel secured and protected from enemies.
Napakadami pa ring takot na dumarating sa akin. Maraming beses ay kinakabahan pa rin. Sa Kamay ng Ama ay may kapayapaan at tibay ng loob!
Father, in your hands, I will be an expression of God’s love like Mary, and to Jesus I will draw and restore all. I am aware of my sinfulness, of my selfishness, and my attachments. If I will rely only on my own capacities, I will bring people away from God’s love and from Jesus. Not my love but God’s ove that I have to give and so I have to be in the Father’s hands.
In your hands, I can be a servant of ove, an instrument of unity. Unity is so breakable. We really have to be in the hands of the Father—to know what to say and what to do because one needs only to say a word or to do a single act out of pride and selfishness to destroy unity in our community. Indeed, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts also absolutely even among priests and bishops! God please forbid this to happen to me!
Father, in your hands, nothing is impossible! In your hands, we can do our tasks with joy. No dragging of feet but with joy! Believing truly that through us who can do only very small things, God can do wondrous and great things!
Father, in your hands, I will have courage, strength, and support to work faithfully and persevere until the end of my life. We know that there are so many things that can break and dampen our spirit; so many problems and difficult situations that can destroy our drive to fullness of life. It is so easy to give up and stop in the middle of a journey. In your hands, Father, I know and believe, I can and will persevere until the end of my life!
If I have to quantify the responsibilities, the cross, the sufferings, and the pains that I carried and endured for the past 8 years as a bishop, I suppose that they surpass those of my 48 years in existence put together. More and more, I understand that it is indeed important for all of us to be rooted in the Father, to be able to follow Jesus more closely, much more for a bishop like me. Before you, and before God, I renew my sincerest prayer to be truly rooted in the Father, in His love, and in His will. I hope that you will do the same. Father, in your hands, I offer my 56 years wholeheartedly and selflessly. In your hands, I believe that you can mold me into a bishop-servant for everyone. Amen."
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