Homily – Manila Abp. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle – Installation of Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio 7th Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines – April 3, 2019 – St. Ignatius Cathedral – Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, QC
Transcription: Yana Villajos
My dear sister and brothers in Christ, we, first of all give thanks to God for bringing us together as one community, as one family , as one church to witness this outpouring of grace and love on the part of God in the person of our newly installed Military Ordinary, Bishop Oscar.
This is truly a grace not only for the military ordinariate not only for his family, not only for the Archdiocese of Manila of which the Military Ordinariate is a suffragan diocese, but also for the universal church and we welcome our respected guest and dignitaries from the government, the military service, the family of Bishop.
Thank you for having given to the church and to humanity such a wonderful son. You’re the Father po? You look like a Bishop too, (applause and laughter) and we thank our brother Bishops and all the clergy the religious and you dear lay people.
I was really in a quandary whether to accept the invitation to deliver this homily. What do I know about military Ordinariate? Maybe one of the predecessors would have given reflection on this occasion but how can you say no to Oscar?
Very kind, very giving, very generous it will be close to original sin to say no to him, and so I accepted and I’m thankful that I had accepted it because I learned a few things because in my mind I was asking the question, since when have these two things, military, might, power, action and religion or faith, not necessarily Christianity, since when have they been brought together?
And I discovered even in the Roman times, the Greek times, when they would engage another people, tribe or community in battle they did some religious rituals to call on the Gods and Goddesses to bless the wars and to bless the soldiers.
In the Old Testament, we have so many of them, The Book of Joshua, The exploits of Joshua, you find the Arc of the covenant the sacrifices being offered, yes…Yes…
When Christianity started being tolerated in the Roman Empire we have Constantine also allowing Priests, Bishops to somehow bless the soldiers but when the practice of repeatable confession became widespread then governments asked for more priests to listen to the confession of soldiers before they go to battle because they might die.
So at least before they die they have made their confession. Those who survived and have created, committed some anomalies should return and confess again so repeatable confessions became an impulse to add so called chaplains.
This changed dramatically in the 8th century. I think this is a history class, di ata homily. But it’s wonderful in the 8th century during the Carolinian period we had a request for a more stable presence of chaplains, not only to bless them before battles and to wait for them to hear confessions but also to provide needed pastoral care, counseling and later on with the Lateran council, the 4th Lateran council specifically stated that the role of the military Chaplain is to ensure that Christian Soldiers maintain discipline and maintain the honor of their Christian faith by a conduct that is worthy of the name Christian.
In the past it was called the Military Vicariate and the first Military Vicariate in the Philippines was in 1950 and first military vicar was someone named Rufino Santos, Auxillary Bishop of Manila who stayed as military Vicar until 1973…his death. And in 1983 a change of laws, Pope John Paul II elevated the military vicariate into a military ordinariate and so the Bishops is not only a Vicar but an ordinary functioning as a Diocesan Bishop and the first military ordinary in the Philippines was the late Bishop Severino Pelayo and now we have the 4th, our dear Oscar…
Bishop Oscar do not forget, the first Vicar was the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila who later on became Cardinal Rufino Santos… Pray to him, you have been released from being Auxiliary of Cebu. And so we pray for you. In fact when you look at him he looks like the Sto.Niño. (Laughter) So this is both installation and Pit Señor! (Laughter and applause) But I asked him which Santo Niño, of Cebu or Leyte? He was very diplomatic, I will not give you his answer.
(Laughter) But a wonderful history where the church continued on reflecting on changing times until it has reached this point of the pastoral care of people who served in their countries in defense in the area of military defense and peace and order.
But the concern was how the bishop the ordinary with the help of the clergy, the priests, and the deacons and many lay people could maintain in the context of power and defense and even possible violence, how to maintain the dignity, the honor of being a follower of Christ and I believe the readings chosen by the Bishop and his team for this mass give us some indications not only for ourselves but for them, too.
Let me start with the Gospel, this is after the resurrection of Jesus, the risen one, victorious over sin and death, who was a victim of violence, hatred, accusations base on lies but who turned victimhood into a gift of self.
“You don’t need to sell me Judas, I will give myself. You don’t have to kill me I give my body and blood, here’s my body for you this is my blood for you, no one takes away my life from me I give it freely, I lay it down freely.”
He would have not saved us if he had not given his life freely how could an unwilling victim save only someone filled with love and made free by love can be savior. And so the triumph over sin and death. He appears to His disciples on the mountain and He affirmed, “all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
The reason one possesses all power, and when He says all power, that means power in heaven and power on Earth, nothing is exempt from the encompassing power of the risen Lord, all power.
And bearing this power He sends His disciples. For what? To do what? To make disciples of Jesus. To be disciples themselves, but to make others disciples of Jesus, meaning to subject themselves to the power of the all-powerful triumphant Lord. To submit themselves to His words, to submit themselves to His grace, His promise, His testament, to submit themselves even to the irony and the paradox of following Him believing that the one I am following has the power over heaven and earth.
That’s the point of making disciples, that’s the point of evangelizing, presenting who Jesus is, presenting Him His words, His life, His relationships, and allowing the power that is in Jesus to magnetize people to fall in love with Jesus, and as a disciple to say, “I am yours I will follow you. I will be under your power.”
Baptizing others, teaching others all have the same goal making disciples of the one who possesses power over heaven and on Earth. My dear Bishop Oscar, you look very powerful. The splendor, but I know you know that power in itself is needed in the world, provided it comes from the power of Jesus.
The moment that power does not come from Jesus anymore, then what happens is presented by Saint Paul in the second reading the letter to the Ephesians.
Some resort to teaching, arising from trickery, false news, fake news, cunning, deceitful scheming, there is power in that, but that does not come from the power of Jesus. The power to destroy others by spreading lies, by scheming deceit in order to promote self-interest, that is power but the origin is something else, not the power of Jesus in heaven and on earth. The power of Jesus enables others to serve, enabling apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers all the holy ones of God to work for the common good.
That’s the power of Jesus, everyone equipped to serve the good of the body and not personal gain. There is power in selfishness but that is not the power of Jesus, the power of Jesus enables everyone to give his or her gift but not for self-aggrandizement but for the good of the whole body, that’s the power of Jesus, that’s the power that disciples must submit to.
And in the first reading the power of the Spirit of Jesus enabling the disciples to bring glad tidings to the lowly to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to captives , release to prisoners to announce year of favor to the Lord this is power, this is the power of the spirit of Jesus the words of healing the words of glad tidings to the poor whose daily life is bad news so the power that gives them hope , the power of the word of God that gives and promises freedom from all the imprisonments that we experience.
This is the power of Jesus to heal, to liberate, yes we need power, but we need to ask from whom, does the power come? And Jesus on the mountain says “I have been given all the power in heaven and on Earth.”
Now, that power must be used to make disciples of all nations to enable people to work for the common good according to their gifts and to bring a word of healing, of freedom, of love, what a power!
My Dear Bishop, (long pause) (laughter) I don’t envy you. But we promise to pray for you and we hope you could come to our gatherings and our meetings of the ecclesiastical province, if not to talk about business but just to relax, to laugh… to laugh at the corny jokes of Bishop Nes Ongtioco. (Laughter) Yeah, and to enjoy, to enjoy all this seemingly endless discussions generated by bishop Mylo and the rest.
There we experience the simple humble power, the humble power of the Lord who has called you and called us. With a constant reminder in the midst of the temptations of this world, to claim to other sources of authority of power to humbly say “Lord be with me, Lord be with us, Keep us in the ambit of your power, help us to be good disciples, help us to submit to Your power over and over again for it is only with Your power could we make disciples of all nations.
‘’ And I’m sure the Lord will not fail us for he ended His speech on the gospel by saying “I have only one promise, I do not promise you success, I do not promise you instant conversions of so many people, all the nations, all the people, no.”
His only promise is “I am with you until the end of the age” and you are happy you are content, that when even friends have left you alone, even people that you rely on sometimes don’t understand you the promise holds “I am with you always until the end of the age,” that’s part of His power to remain with us, Emmanuel God with us, forever Emmanuel “I will be with you always.”
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