Cardinal Homily

25th Sacerdotal anniversary of Rev. Fr Gregory Gaston Rector, Cardinal Tagle Homily

Homily Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
25th Sacerdotal anniversary of Rev. Fr Gregory Gaston Rector,
Pontificio Colegio Filipino Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, New Manila Quezon City

June 5, 2018

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

First of all we give thanks to God for gathering us as one community, as one family of faith this evening for the celebration of the Eucharist.

We also thank God for the gift of to the vocation of the priesthood given to Fr. Greg and his companions and today we join them in giving thanks to God for 25 years of ordained ministry and life.

Why would they invite us? Can they not give thanks by themselves?

Well the gift is so much for one heart to relish and to give thanks for, so we need to help them give thanks. We need to join them in expressing gratitude to the Lord.

And another special reason is here in the Philippines it is the ‘Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons’, so it is not just Fr. Greg and his companions that are celebrating but the whole Church. We are asked to reflect on the gift of the priesthood, the ministerial priesthood and religious life, consecrated life. After all, all of us have been consecrated already in baptism. So we share a common consecration we all belong to God to the service of God in different states of life.

“Para po sa mga nag-iisip kung ano ang maibibigay na regalo kina Fr. Greg, marami po, Pero ang isang regalo sana, may mga binata pa ba dito kung may binata pa magpari kayo. Yan ang magandang regalo. Kung meron pang dalaga rito, magmadre kayo. Andaming magaganda sa inyo, mas gaganda kayo kapag nagmadre kayo. Maniwala naman kayo. At kung meron ditong biyudo, mag-pari kayo basta okay na ang mga anak ninyo. At kung merong biyuda at okay na ang pamilya ninyo puwede kayong magmadre. Mamaya na natin pag-usapan ‘yan.”

Let us go to the readings of today, while they are in a way directly connected to priestly life and consecrated life, I think they still give us a wonderful lesson. In the gospel, we have Jesus being trapped by the Pharisees and the herodians, they wanted them to talk so that they can snare Him. “Kapag pinagsasalita ka kalimitan gusto kang i-trap. Kaya si Hesus nababasa niya ‘yan, kaya siya pinagsasalita para siya ma-trap.” And the question was a real trap. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? But Jesus reading their minds was wise. He asked for a coin and said, ‘Who’s image and inscription is this? They said, Caesars. So, repay to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

Tax. Ang sabi nila may mga bagay sa buhay na hindi mo maiiwasan ang kamatayan at ang tax. Kahit anong gawin mong takas, may tax. But taxes are part of societal life. People pay taxes, legitimate taxes to legitimate authority so that through the revenues gathered in taxation, the common good could be promoted by states, organization or government. So the paying of taxes is really meant to support institutions that will promote the good of society. In this way paying taxes is a social obligation, it is a moral obligation. But it must be done legitimately, the collection of taxes and the taxes must be used for the common good. If the collection is illegitimate and the use is not for the common good you don’t call it taxation…you call it extortion!

‘Bat kayo tumatawa!’ Now extortion is illegitimate, taxation is legitimate. What the Caesar deserved, ‘Okay parang sinasabi ni Hesus”, what he deserves as the legitimate leader you give. If he is the legitimate authority and the taxes will be use for legitimate needs of the people give to him what he deserves. But Jesus did not end there. Give to God what belongs to God. God does not demand taxes. After all, God is the creator of everything and God is all good, but what belongs to God?

In the Old Testament, and affirmed by Jesus we are told, love God with all your might with all your heart with all your soul. That’s what should be given to God legitimately for the love of God and nothing else. It is an act of gratitude for the God who has given us all especially His beloved son. And this is what every priests, every religious person wants to witness to. That it is worth leaving everything. It is worth making the vow of total detachment called poverty, obedience, chastity because I am giving to God what belongs to God, my whole self. God has given me all and all I render to Him. Not as a slave, not because God needs it but as an act of gratitude. Gratitude to the one who has loved me first.

“Siguro may mga titingin kay Fr. Greg…sasabihin sayang! Ang tali-talino ang galing-galing ang bait-bait ang guwapo guwapo sayang, sabihin nila nabawasan pa ang mga eligible bachelors! Kapag tiningnan yung ibang mga madre sasabihin ninyo, sayang!

Some in this very pragmatic and transactional way of thinking, thinking according to taxation? ‘Sasabihin nila, what a waste.’ But I tell you, let Fr. Greg and Fr. Stephen let them tell their stories, right there as a red thread is simply the desire to give to God in gratitude what belongs to God.

This is a very humble admission. Of course, we priest and religious we also have a mission and we want to achieved we want to do something for the good of the community to promote the mission of the church.

We have many ideas, and they are good ideas. But the first reading also reminds us, we are not the once who would create the new heavens and the new earths, the new earth the new heavens are Gods work and Gods gift we just cooperate and four times in the first reading the word wait, waiting is mentioned. Wait for the coming of the day of the Lord.

We await new heavens and the new earth therefore since you await these things be eager and consider the patience of our Lord as our salvation.

‘Ang hirap mag-wait ha! Nung bata-bata ako pagpauwi ako sa Cavite nakakatulog ako sa jeep, pero kapag iba na ang ihip ng hangin naaamoy ko na ang pinipig nagigising ako Wow Bacoor na malapit na ang Imus! Ngayon nakakatulog pa rin ako sa sasakyan, pagdilat ko nandoon pa rin hindi gumagalaw, traffic. Ang hirap maghintay kung gusto mo maglakad ka na lang lumipad.

Kailan ba magkakaroon ng bagong lupa, bagong langit? The response of the first reading, you wait. It is God’s work but be eager and you can hasten the coming of the day of the Lord by your justice, your righteousness and be on guard against error. And do not do anything that would make you proud thinking that you are the source of stability.

This is a good reminder for priest and religious, we who are driven. After 25 years of priesthood we are still waiting for the new heavens and the new earths. But no matter our contribution is to be faithful and in our little ways to hasten the coming of the new heavens and the new earth.

We are not the once to will produce it. That’s why the first reading ends with this ‘To God be glory, now and to the day of eternity. To God be the glory.’ This is the greatness of the priestly vocation, you do everything you give everything knowing that you are not to accomplished anything! For everything must be for the glory of God not your glorification.

As so frustrations, impatience of a role they make you wait and they make you realized it’s the God we served not our names not our success not our achievements.

And so we join Father, in with the psalmist is saying what return could I return to the Lord? And the answer of the psalmist is ‘I will take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will drink the cup of sacrifice of self offering but in the end not my name but the name of the Lord be hallowed and glorified. Your name be glorified, may your name be hallowed.

So Father, thank you very much for your self-giving, thank you for your patience for the past 25 years please do not be discouraged, we wait. And as we wait in humility God will do wonders and before our very eyes the new heavens the new earth that we cannot produce God will produce and we thank God for you and your companions may the name of God be glorified.