Cardinal Homily

Homily of Manila Abp. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle Eucharistic Celebration and Raising of the Galero of Cardinal Rufino J. Santos at Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Manila Cathedral

Manila Abp. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Eucharistic Celebration and Raising of the Galero of Cardinal Rufino J. Santos
Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Manila Cathedral
September 3, 2018

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we thank God for this occasion that He has given to us to be gathered as one community and as one family.

In this Eucharistic Celebration we remember our beloved Cardinal Rufino J. Santos, who on this day, 45 years ago passed on to eternal life.

We thank all of you specially his friends and former collaborators for coming to this Eucharist. In a special way, we thank his family, may we ask the family to please stand, huwag na ho kayong mahiya. (Family members of Cardinal Santos was recognized)

Thank you very much for coming. Thank you for sharing Cardinal Rufino to the wider family of the Church. I know that among the priests concelebrating, we have I don’t know how many, who were ordained by Cardinal Santos, so sila po yung living signs of the ministry, the Presbyteral ministry that has been handed on from generation to generation, from Cardinal Santos to them and now to us.

I know that a homily in the commemoration of a departed should not be a eulogy. There is a difference between a homily and a eulogy. So I better shift to the homily.

The readings chosen for our commemoration for Cardinal Santos are appropriate not only for remembering him but they are appropriate for us who are still here and are facing the journey towards eternal life.

The gospel according to St. Mathew could easily be interpreted or even least interpreted as a gospel about how to do or engage in good and worthwhile investments. But that is missing the point, the key lines of this gospel are, “Well done good and faithful servant, come share your master’s joy!” That’s the end of the journey, but this is risky to one servant the master said, “You wicked lazy servant, throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” our eternal destiny, either, the master’s joy and glory or a place of wailing, darkness and grinding of teeth.

This is the point, where do we want our earthly journey to end? I’m sure all of us trust in God’s providence and mercy we all hope in the God who understands human frailty because God created us God knows we are made of dust.

We hope in God and God’s mercy because Jesus Christ became one of us and experience human weakness and even temptations so He will surely understand. Yes, there is a place that only God could occupy, there is a role in our human journey that God occupies, and in the gospel it is very clear, God entrusts to His servants talents good things and they are God’s not the servants.

They do not become the property of the servant, they remain the property of the master and so they are technically not given to the servants, they are entrusted to the servant. That’s God’s share, entrusting to everyone talents and later on St. Paul would even say, “In the Church, God distributes different gifts,” some are apostles, some are prophets, some are teachers, some speak in tongues, some interpret the tongues, some are good in charity, some administer goods, there are so many gifts but entrusted, merely entrusted to the servants.

And what a good master we have, according to the gospel, God entrusts the talents to everyone according to his or her ability. God does not expect from everyone the same output, God knows our capacities.

When I was rector of the seminary, I was asked to handle the community choir not because I am schooled in music but there was no choice, and it seemed that if others have very little gift of music, I have a little bit more entrusted to me, so it was just, well, “pangangailangan.” You know, there where school years where practically all the seminarians were entrusted with the gift of music, they could sing even in harmony.

But there were school years when they better recite poems rather than hum tunes. And when you have big occasions like an ordination, the blessing of a church, you need a choir, and they want, they preferred the seminary choir, then what do I do? I cannot force a community that did not receive the gift of singing to sing.

That’s one of the anomalies of our time, people force themselves into positions for which they don’t have gifts. You have choir members who cannot sing, you have finance officers who cannot count, you have law enforcement officers who do not know the meaning of the law, you have peace keeping forces who do not know peace, but what are they doing there? God is better, God give or entrust talents according to their abilities.

So to one with a greater ability, five talents where given to one two talents because that’s in harmony with his capacity, and to one, one that was his capacity. Go is good, God entrusts talents to us without asking for the impossible. We have a beautiful Filipino expression, “abot kaya” Kung yan ang naaabot ng kaya mo, matutuwa na ang Diyos basta abutin mo ang kaya. And that’s the spirit behind St. Paul’s injunction in the first reading, why do you judge your brother or sister? Why do you look down on your brother or sister? All of us will stand before the judgement seat of God and God will be merciful because God knows each ones abilities and God has entrusted to each one gifts according to ones abilities.

My dear brothers and sisters, what were the gifts of God entrusted to you? Do you appreciate those gifts? Do we recognize those gifts? And do we think of them as simply gifts temporarily entrusted to us? The real owner will ask for an accounting for those talents are not ours they are Gods. Which brings us to our role, God has His role, we have our role, we have large space to work on and hopefully it will be occupied by us with the spirit of industry, the spirit of eagerness to develop the gifts that have been entrusted to us.

There is no room for passivity, mediocrity, laziness that will be wasting the beautiful gifts coming from God. But if we look at the three persons, how come, two develop the gifts entrusted to them so that when the master returns, Wow they were able to double that talents, what made them do that whereas the third servant just buried the gift and returned the gift as is.

“I received one, I return to you one.” Whereas the first who received five was able to give back ten and the one who receive two was able to give back four, the one who had one just returned it one piece. What was the difference? Ah, the difference among the three is their relationship with the master, it is not lack of ability, all of them have abilities but what enable someone to develop the gifts if there is a healthy relationship with the master.

The two first servants wanted to do with the gifts as the master had wanted, they were always in harmony with the will of the master, even when the master had gone away for a trip, the master never left their minds and their hearts, he was not absent. Whereas the third servant was afraid of the master, there was no human interaction. He looked at the master as someone severe, judgmental, and so he was not motivated to serve the master.

It is this profound relationship, personal relationship with the master that makes us productive. I know some of you are married and have children and grandchildren, I know how difficult it is to earn a living but because of your relationship with your husband or with your wife, because of your love for your children, you will do anything even beyond your capacities.

It is not the talent of being enterprising but it is your love that motivates you, that pushes you, even the meager gifts entrusted to you, you will develop out of love. That was missing in the third servant.

So my dear brothers and sisters, the next question to us, how is our relationship with God, the one who has entrusted gifts to us. Without a living relationship with God we will waste the many, many gifts of time, talent, resources, relationships, ultimately it is what St. Paul says “We live for the Lord, we die for the Lord.

Whether in life or in death, whether in good times or in bad times, I will not waste any gift. I do this for love of God and I do this for love of neighbor. God supplies us with gifts, now our relationship with God will determine whether we will develop the gifts or waste the gifts. And it is in this spirit that we want to thank God in this singular gift entrusted to us – Rufino Cardinal Santos. And we want to believe that he had as a young seminarian as a priest, later on as a bishop and as the first Filipino Cardinal.

A profound relationship with God, for him to have survived, oh! Difficult times in the world and in the church. I do not envy him being a priest, secretary, treasurer of the Archbishop of Manila during the war doing your humanitarian help secretly and then when it was exposed that they were helping, the archbishop was helping, the priest the prisoners, he assumed, Father Santos assumed the responsibility and he was sent to prison.

He could have shied away from that responsibility, he could have said, “Not me, not me I’m just a treasurer… it’s the bishop, it’s the bishop!” No, you could see the depth of his love for God, the church and his bishop. That’s the only explanation for assuming guilt and assuming pain. And then the war, the reconstruction after the war, wow! No mere mortal could do that.

This beautiful Cathedral, the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of this cathedral, we owe to Cardinal Santos. Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary, San Carlos Seminary, Pius XII Catholic Center, the Asian Social Institute, Catholic Charities which later on became Caritas Manila, the Association of Parochial Schools, to name a few.

But remember the times everything was in ruins and you have to build again. He must have trusted the Lord so much, he must have known that it was not his gifts and God’s mighty hands at work and we are just stewards.

But what an enterprising industrious steward he was. And so we hope, we hope, not only now but 45 years ago at a young age of 65 and 8 days when he passed on to face the master who has entrusted to him so much, we hope that Rufino –not anymore bearing titles, father, bishop, cardinal but simply the servant Rufino, we hope he heard the sweetest words, “Well done good and faithful servant, come share your master’s joy.”

That’s our hope for him and we also hope that we will have inherited this beautiful legacy from God through the hands of Cardinal Santos will be as responsible, as loving as he was.

On a personal note, I went to Imus early this morning because today is the 122 anniversary of the battle of Imus which was the first triumph of the revolutionaries in Cavite. Which led to other revolts in the province of Cavite, some historians even said that the battle of Imus encouraged the revolutionaries in Bulacan to stage their own revolt.

But the revolutionaries 122 years ago first attacked the Imus Cathedral but the Spanish priest had already escaped so they were not able to harm anyone. But every year on the third day of September, the battle of Imus is commemorated and what a coincidence, after his studies in Rome, as a seminarian and his ordination in Rome, Father Rufino Santos was assigned as assistant parish priest of Imus Cavite. And after a few months, as parish priest in Bulacan.

Freshly ordained priest in Rome, being assigned to my hometown Imus. So I announced there at 6:30 this morning that this place, Father Rufino Santos started his priestly ministry as an assistant priest, I said my first mass today is here in Imus Cathedral and my evening mass will be in the Manila Cathedral to remember Cardinal Rufino Santos.

The master has a good story to tell even on this day. Let us pause and open our hearts to the master who entrust to us so many blessings and we ask for the grace for a deep love of the Lord and of the Church so that we would not waste any of those gifts.