Manila Abp. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Episcopal Ordination of Bp. Roberto Gaa
August 22, 2019
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we give thanks and honor to God who has gathered us as one community, as one church in this beautiful day, the Memorial of the Queenship of Our Blessed Mother. And we’re gathered in this beautiful cathedral and Minor Basilica dedicated to her Immaculate Conception. This is the home of Mary. We are her children. And what as stroke of providence that on this day, we also will witness the ordination to the episcopacy of our dear brother, puwede pa ba “Robbie”? Robbie Gaa from our home here, the Archdiocese of Manila and now he would be the pastor, bishop of the Diocese of Novaliches.
What a grace to the Church! And these past days have been a manifestation of God’s goodness to the church of the Philippines with the ordination in Ipil of the new bishop of Iligan.
Then, yesterday the installation of the new bishop of Malolos. Today, the ordination of the new bishop for Novaliches and he will be installed on Saturday. I leave it up to him to invite you. I don’t dare. And then on Tuesday, the ordination of the new auxiliary bishop of Cebu and it will be held in Jaro.
Yes, grace upon grace. We are truly blessed. And we render to God all praise and glory through the hands and prayers of our Blessed Mother. And we thank our dear Cardinal Lolo Dency, who is present here among us. Ang pinagbubunyi ng langit at lupa. We thank also our dear Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia. And the Bishop Emeritus of Novaliches who still holds the position of Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Tony Tobias. He’s very happy, you can see he’s very happy.
And we thank also our dear archbishops and bishops with our President, the CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles. Our two co-consecrators to make the ordination really valid, Archbishop Soc Villegas and Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, classmate, I think, high school classmate of Fr. Robbie. So, their class in Ateneo high school has produced two bishops.
It’s the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary. Some people are asking whether we can establish her queenship. She was a simple lady from Nazareth. Why do we call her queen? Well, according to the teachings of the church, her queenship is related to the kingship of Jesus. There is really nothing in Mary that does not derive from her relationship with Jesus. She is the mother of God. The mother of the Son of the Most High God. And in the tradition of the East Asian cultures at that time including Israel, the mother of the king was considered the queen.
Why? Because the Kings had many wives but only one mother. So, who will you make queen among the many wives? Wala. So, the only mother is recognized as the queen. And she will then be real influence, that the queen mothers in those ancient cultures were listened to by their sons who had become kings. They were the counselors of the kings. They interceded with their son, the king, for the people. And the moment the son becomes a king, the mother also is raised to a certain stage.
So, if you go to the Old Testament you will see that the wives of the kings remained wives. But the mother of the king becomes a queen. No wonder, Jesus, our king, our king has a mother, Mary. She is our queen. And the Readings point to the kingship of Jesus.
In the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, already from of old, it was prophesied that “the Child will be born to us. A son will be given to us and on his shoulder, dominion rests. And he will occupy the throne of David, his dominion would be vast and forever peaceful, from the throne of David over all the kingdom. And we, from the Christian perspective know that this child, this son prophesied by Isaiah from the line of David, is Jesus.
In the Gospel, the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel told Mary the truth to a man named Joseph that she has found favor with God. She will conceive a son and this son is the Son of the Most High God and God will give Him the throne of his father David. And he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end. The Son of Mary is king. She, the mother is queen. Kaya hanggang ngayon maraming nanay ang reyna. May tradisyon yan talaga.
But then we have to ask. What type of queen is she? Well, before that we have to ask, what type of kingdom does Jesus have? What time of king is Jesus? Then, the Queenship of Mary will follow. We know that the kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom not according to the norms of worldly kingdoms. It is a kingdom that God will initiate. It is God who will set it up. It is God’s kingdom. It is a kingdom whose values are the beatitude, poverty, meekness, righteousness, peacemaking, even persecution for the sake of the name of Jesus and of justice. It is a kingdom where the greatest must be the servant of all. It is the kingdom where the master prepares the table, stoops down and washes the feet of his disciples. It is a kingdom where the throne is the cross and the crown is made of thorns. It is a kingdom of faith, pure, naked, faith.
It is a kingdom that prays for those who persecute: “Father forgive them.” It is a kingdom that entrust a mother who will be made alone, widowed, and now orphaned because her son has been killed. A kingdom that entrusts this woman to the beloved disciple. It is a kingdom where the empty tomb is empty not because death has triumphed but because God’s justice triumphs. That’s the kingdom of Jesus. That’s how he is as King. And so is the Queenship of Mary.
Mary considered herself the handmaid of the Lord. She did not tell angel Gabriel, “What? What a great honor? I will now live in a palace. My son will be king. Wow!” She did not elevate herself. Knowing the magnitude of the kingdom that God wants to set up, she behaved correspondingly, “I am the servant of the Lord”.
The humble service that marked her as Queen also marked the Kingship of her son. And the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine, will tell us that the motherhood of Mary, and therefore her Queenship, is not just because she bore her son Jesus in her womb physically. She was a mother first in faith, in faith by accepting God’s offer, by responding to God and the mission given to her. Her motherhood is a matter of faith. Her queenship is also a matter of faith for the kingdom her son is not like the kingdoms of this world but the kingdom of faith that promises salvation.
The motto of our dear Bishop-elect, “The goal of faith is the salvation of souls.” That’s the kingdom of Jesus. That’s the Queenship of Mary. The Kingdom where we will experience fullness of life called salvation. But it is a faith through humility, service, dying to self, living for others for it is God’s kingdom that is being established. We need this type of king. We need Mary as our Queen. We need the reminder that our king wants a kingdom where we will enjoy the fullness of that kingdom in what we call salvation. But we live by faith.
What happened to Mary? Now sharing in the glory of her Son is being shared with us. It’s not just Mary who shares in the Kingship of Jesus. We are all sharers in the kingly world of Jesus as baptized, as ordained, we are a royal people. A royal people, and like Mary, we should affirm that by choosing Jesus as our King. And like Mary and Jesus of faith, taking the path of humble service of God and neighbor in order to show the regal aspect of Jesus. The world, the Philippines, we need a manifestation of the regal, royal character of Jesus and his kingdom through humble service, through communion with the little ones. That’s how we become royal.
Kasi tayo minsan pag sinabi regal, naku po, nagkukumi-kumintab, kumukuti-kutitap, kuwuwintas. Parang kapag simple kulang sa pagiging dignified. But to which kingdom do we belong? To what type of kingship do we affiliate ourselves? Mary seems to be telling us, I am not the only one who’s suppose to enjoy the royalty of Jesus.
All of you baptized, the whole church, you are a royal priesthood. But let us together affirm in faith the Kingdom of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the ways of that Kingdom. And the goal of that is fullness of life, salvation of souls. Father Robbie, thank you for being present today. We were afraid you be reported as a missing person. Pero hindi naman. Kagabi pa nandyan na siya.
And thank you. I know how difficult it is or has been for you. If I may tell, we’ve been discussing his sabbatical. He asked permission after so many years in the seminary to have time not only for rest but for growth as a priest and he wanted to experience some other aspects of priestly ministry. And after he came one morning, I immediately said yes, yes for you, for your good, for your growth, and for the growth of his ministry.
I noticed that he was asking for a sabbatical not just for himself but so that he could equipped himself to be a more well-rounded and effective pastor. When I saw that, sabi ko, this must be a fruit of prayer, a fruit of prayer so, I said, yes. But somewhere along the line when we were preparing it na ganyan, somehow that I got to know that another sabbatical is waiting for him. And when we met after the announcement, it was just tears. Hindi naman ako mahirap paiyakin, kapag umiiyak na yung kaharap ko umiiyak na rin ako. And we are grateful to God that the Archdiocese of Manila who has received the beautiful gift in Fr. Robbie is now asked to share that gift to others especially to Novaliches.
That’s the nature of the gift. It is given and must be continuously given. If it is not given anymore, it ceases to be God’s gift. Robbie, thank you. Thank you, talaga and we hope that your ordination as a bishop on the Queenship of Mary would constantly remind you that the royal people, the kingly people must be led in faith so that it is the kingdom of our Lord Jesus served beautifully, profoundly by the Queen Mother who listened to the Word of God, who put it into practice even it spelled out inconveniences for her.
That’s your personal mission and mission has a vision. And, he is not here anymore but I would like to thank, when I was a seminarian one of our spiritual directors was Fr. Santy Santiago Gaa, Fr. Robbie’s uncle. Somehow last night even in my dreams it kept coming. This man of prayer for a long time loved his master, a Jesuit known for his simple life even quite rigorous life, imposed on himself but always gently, I caught him once cheating. Bawal kasi ang salt sa pagkain niya. Nakita ko naglalagay ng salt. Sabi ko, “Father, ano yan?” “Maawa ka, Chito, walang lasa ang pagkain ko”. But really, I’m sure he’s very happy, your family is very happy and your uncle Fr. Santy will pray for you. To our priests here in the Archdiocese of Manila, it is not goodbye to Robbie, it is just saying we are sharing you as a gift to Novaliches. We wish you well.
Nandito lang naman. And turn to our Queen Mother, she will intercede for us, for you and for the Church of Novaliches to her son.
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