Homily at the Opening Mass
for the Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan held at the Saint John
the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City last September 2, 2017
You are taking part in history today. Generations of Catholics in Pangasinan in the decades ahead will look back
at what is unfolding today and hopefully give thanks for this Synod. May future generations of Catholics remember what we are doing rightnow with gratitude and be able to say with pride “We are Catholics from Pangasinan and we are proud of our forefathers. In their time, they gave their best to keep Pangasinan semper fidelis.” Pangasinan always faithful! Pangasinan tapat hanggang wakas.We remember with pride Bishop Miguel Garcia, Bishop of Segovia, who convoked the Synod of Calasiao in 1773. We are standing on the shoulders of Archbishop Federico Limon, SVD who celebrated the first synod of Lingayen Dagupan in 1985. To them, we are grateful. For them we praise the Lord!
A synod is not a meeting. A synod is a journeying together. It is walking together on pilgrimage, together like the Israelites to the Land of Promise, marching together like saints to heaven. We take the same path together with a shared rhythm and a common heartbeat walang iwanan not our heartbeat but the heartbeat of the Lord.
Where do we start? Our starting point is not a place. Our starting point is a person. Our starting point is Christ, Christ who says to each one here “Come follow me”. Gala, tumbok mo ako. Our first duty, our only duty is to follow the Lord. We did not choose this synod. God chose us for this synod. It is not our wish. It is God’s will that we follow. We have heard the voice of the Virgin who calls in Manaoag “Come to me and let’s go to my Son”. TheVirgin who calls is the Virgin who follows and with her we walk the path that Jesus walked on.
• Come and stay with me. Come learn from me. Come and let me speak through you, let me act through you,
let me be you. When I signed and sent the summons to the members of the Synod, I signed those documents by the feet of the crucified Lord. I have heard the same call Gala tumbok mo ak. With you I am only a fellow disciple struggling to answer that call. We are called together to be Jesus for the world. When we conducted the tedious surveys and dug deeply into the treasures of Church teachings, we were doing it because of the Lord. The Lord speaks to us through our Mother Church indeed, but he also speaks to us through the signs of the times. In the lights and shadows of life, in the stormy and sunny days, in the persecutions we endure and the triumphs we bask in—the Lord speaks. We must listen to Lord and to the world so that the Gospel can penetrate more hearts, touch more lives and build the Kingdom of God. Our mission is not to fill up our chapels and churches with active parishioners; our mission is to fill the dark world with the light of Christ. The challenge is not inside the Cathedral but in the streets and sidewalks, in our seas and rivers, in our factories and markets, in our stores and municipios. Our journey of discipleship leads us always to the Upper Room where he continues to wash our feet and admonishes us “Gawa yo ya pakanudnotan ed siak”. The synod is a journey of doing what Jesus has done. It is a call to serve. The members of the synod gather together not in power and pageantry but in humility and service. The work of the synod is a mission of washing one another’s feet, it is a mission of generous and courageous dying that the dead in the spirit may come alive again, that hearts that have become cold may be lit up again. Our standard is Christ. Our criterion is Christ. Our vision is Christ. Our task is Christ. Gawa yo ya pakanudnotan ed siak. We are at the service of one another.
If the synod is to be life giving for the Church and for society, we are called to be ready to die during the synod;
to die to old beliefs, to kill the ghosts of our prejudices, to shut down our dusty mindsets. We are called to let go of customs and practices that have become security blankets rather stimuli for the Gospel. We dream not of status quo Church but an ever vibrant Church that is excited not afraid to plunge into the deep. In dying with the Lord, we rise with the Lord and from the risen Lord, we hear the important call of the synod Laka yo, mambangat
kayo! After dying, we rise. After rising, we are sent. Go and teach! The most important task of the synod is not
to make laws but to teach. Our task is to make Gospel that has gathered dust with old memorized formulas become fresh and new again. At the end of the synod, the synodal proceedings will be turned over to me for my prayer and study. I will receive the synod documents not as a legislator but as a teacher ready to be taught by my flock. I am your
teacher; I must listen to your teachings. Indeed, the first duty of the teacher is to be a pupil. We must teach even
if the government is hostile. We must teach even if the children are noisy. We must teach even if the trolls are unrelenting. We must teach even if our voices get hoarse. We must teach even if they threaten us. We must teach even if they kill us and if they kill us, our message will echo even more because the best way to teach is through martyrdom!
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Lakayo mambangat kayo! Church in Lingayen Dagupan,
I bid you “Come let us follow the Lord”.
Brothers and sisters in Lingayen Dagupan, I challenge you: Do not get tired of doing this in His memory! Christians of Lingayen Dagupan Go forth and teach. Arise! Do not be afraid.
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