His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Archbishop of Manila
Oct. 28, 2017 – Saturday
We thank God. We praise God for gathering us as one community of faith. Even it is not a Thursday, wow we see how big the community is and we thank the priests who are here our SVD brothers especially this is one of the biggest gathering, feast here in the parish so far that I have seen of priests and SVD’s please pray for their parishes, kasi walang pari ngayon sa parokya nila. Kasi nandito ngayon, baka magalit sa St. Jude. But it is good for us to be together. As everyone already knows, 2017 has been declared by the bishops of the Philippines as the Year of the Parish: as Communion of Communities. Malapit nang mag-close ang year na iyon. Kaya sa nalalabing mga linggo. Let us try to continue reflecting on this challenge and calling to us. To be communities but not separated to one another, communities open to each other in what we call communion. Whenever the different organization small communities, groups in the parish segregate themselves from each other, that’s the end of parish life. Parish thrives on communion, but that communion is not of our own making it is God’s gift for God is communion. One God, three divine persons, three diverse persons, unique each one unique unto himself yet not ending up in three Gods but the same God, one God. So the parish must learn from his gift of God to us the very identity of God is communion.
And this year for our fiesta here in the National shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus the theme chosen was St. Jude Thaddeus, the intercessor for our community here but in the spirit of communion. Intercessor, let me start with a conversation that I overheard. Overheard, hindi naman talaga ako nakiki-tsismis, malakas ang boses nila kaya narinig ko kahit hindi naman intensyon ang sabi ng isa “Huy nagdasal ako kay St. Anthony, nasagot. Ang sabi ng isa, mahina ‘yang si St. Anthony, kay St. Jude ka. Sabi naman ng isa ay wala lahat ‘yang dalawa na ‘yan kay Mother of Perpetual Help.” Para bagang pinag-aaway away ang mga Santo, and that is not the whole point of having intercessors. These is not a question of each one developing a bigger fans club, mga loyalist that will destroy a reputation of another intercessor. From our two readings let me propose two points for reflection.
First, why do we consider the saints people who can intercede for us? That is Jesus alone. In fact we seen that, ‘You who are seated at the right side of the Father you intercede for us before the Father have mercy on us. Jesus is the only intercessor. But Jesus is so good. Jesus shares his mission, his ministry, his grace with his body the Church. If we call saints as intercessor it is because Jesus act of communion with the saints and with all of us. So an intercessor actually lives, what we also professed in the faith communion of Saints. We remain connected to one another in the living body of Christ. In the first reading, Saint Paul tells the Ephesians we are no longer strangers and sojourners. But we are fellow citizens with the holy ones. St. Jude does not treat us as strangers and for that matter all intercessors they seen in each one of us a neighbor, a brother, a sister. Their communion with us comes from their humanity too, they are human too. They know how to cry. They know what it means to be in difficulty, they know what a mother feels when she loses her child. They know how a father feels when he has nothing to take home for dinner. He knows the struggles of people. Young people, bombarded with so many things up to confusion, why? Because he suffered to, St. Jude suffered to. He got hungry to, afraid to, confused to. Powerful intercessors are powerful because of the power of communion with us. They know what we go through. In the same way that Jesus was made perfect by what he suffered. And by his suffering he became a compassionate high priest, a compassionate intercessor rather than harsh judge. Being an intercessor is an act of communion. At the same time, St. Jude and the holy ones are in communion with Jesus in heaven. But that communion is not owned.
Kasi kung minsan tayo kapag nabiyayaan na, akin lang ‘to. Pero ang tunay na banal mas mabibiyayaan mas iniisip ang kapwa. Hindi ‘yung nabiyayaan ako, itago ko ito. Mga estudyante baka kayo nakapag-aral tapos tatanungin kayo ng kaklase nyo, ‘Huy di ko maintindihan ito, e bukas na ang exam. Baka yung iba sa inyo sasabihin, pag-inexplain ko baka mataasa pa ako e. sasabihin ko na lang hindi ko rin naintindihan. Iin communion tayong dalawa, pareho tayong hindi nakakaintinde. Pero madamot lang.’ Itong mga intercessors they are in communion with human weakness. But in their moments of glory they do not forget their brothers and sisters. Communion of sharing, the circulations of blessings and charity, love. So, tama si St. Jude as intercessor in this year of communion talagang we learned from them. At sana tayo rin in our own ways maging intercessor. We pray for one another because we are in communion with one another in the human condition.
Na-ikuwento ko na ito dati, noong ako ay …two years ago may dati akong professor an American church-historian, who was dying. He called for me, so I went kasi baka hindi ko na abutan. I went, immediately. And when I entered the room, he started crying. Sabi ng nurse whenever former students or friends visit father, he gets emotional. So I approached him, I patted his back. When everything subsided na nag-smile na sabi sa akin ‘Chito, Chito, akala ko pamamanahan ako e. Chito, Chito, you used to sleep in my class. Kung si Hesus may seven last words, ‘yun ang last word sa akin ni Father. You used to sleep in my class, and which was true. I slept in his class at ang sarap nang tulog ko sa klase nya. Hindi ko alam kung bakit, tapos sabi ko I’m sorry Father, if I caused you so much distressed. Sabi nya, ‘No, no, no you did well. Look at you, you are now a Cardinal. Parang sinasabi nya sa akin na Chito, huwag kang mayabang ha. We know you, tutulog-tulog ka lang. You did not became a cardinal because you deserved it, we know you. You slept in class. You have nothing to boast. Kaya ako, when I see people sleeping during the homily I don’t get angry. Yung communion, I understand your suffering. When I teach, when I see students falling asleep, I don’t get offended, I don’t get insulted. Sabi ko nga maybe that is better than listening to me. Maybe by listening to me you might be wasting his time. But by sleeping, he is using his time wisely. And who knows baka ang mga anghel ng Panginoon ay may itinuturo sa kaniya na hindi ko kayang ituro. You know a bit of communion, makes you understanding, makes you an intercessor. You understand you pray for them. And when they are judged, you become a compassionate brother. Sana po lalu na sa ating parokya, pag nalaman nila na taga-St. Jude ka, wow! E di ano ka rin pala, a person of communion and you intercede for the weak in the parish.
The final point po, who is st. Jude? Who is St. Simon? In the gospel they are mentioned among the twelve. But when we go to the totality of the New Testament there is really very little, practically nothing that we know of these two. Unlike the others Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, si Judas Escariot. Pero si Judas son of James, Simon we know that he was a zealot. And scholars are even debating whether the short letter of Jude in the New Testament was really written by the apostle Jude. But what does this tell us about communion and intercession? The saint whom we recognized as a powerful intercessor was insignificant in the sense that, even in the holy book not much is remembered of him. But when it comes to the mission of being an intercessor, a co-journeyer, a brother or sister that prays with others, you don’t need fame. You don’t need achievements in your poor simple self. A heart, a heart capable of understanding others, praying for others, expressed it. Let us not wait for us to be somebody before we journey with other people.
Huwag po nating sasabihin, makasalanan ako, simpleng tao lang ako. Huwag nyo akong lapitan para ipagdasal kayo. Wala naman akong sinabi, pipitsugin lang ako. Kaya huwag nyo akong lalapitan para makibahagi. Hindi po sa mata ng Diyos ang mga simple, ang mga mangmang at walang hindi pinararangalan ng mundo sila ang pinipili ng Diyos para hiyain ang mga matatalino at mga makapangyarihan. Our great intercessor compared with the rest was a nobody. But God listens, to the cries of community coming from the many nobodies of this world. And so the best intercessors are those who have no one but the Lord. Sana po huwag tayong magmamaliit ng ibang tao. Baka ‘yung ating minamaliit at inaalipusta ang pinaka-makatutulong sa atin papalapit sa Diyos. We learned from the simple ones. They are our great intercessors.
Tapusin ko po ito sa kwento. Minsan po. I have a friend who asked me to join him to go to a place here in Manila area. ‘Sabi nya sumakay ka na lang sa kotse ko. We will use his car. So I rode with him. When we were close Roxas boulevard nag-red ang light. E, di titigil. The moment the car stopped, yung mga vendors doon sa sidewalk. They all came out, ang dami pala. Selling flowers, cookies, towels. Then the driver signaled to them… ‘We will not buy’ and they understood. They all went to the cars behind. Hindi naman mahirap kausap. Maya-maya, one of them came back. Nagtitinda ng barquillos. Hawak ang barquillos ang isang kamay, tapos kumakaway sa akin, cardinal, cardinal! Yung driver sabi ‘we will not buy’. The owner of the car, my friend said, ‘hindi kami bibili and the man continue to cardinal, cardinal! Ako naman even if I was not the owner of the car, without asking permission ibinaba ko yung window. Nung nakita ng driver, sinabi nya ‘Sir hindi kami bibili’ and my friend said ‘Sorry, but we will not buy’. And the man said, ‘ hindi ko naman ibinebenta, gusto ko lang ibigay kay Cardinal. I am not selling I want to give it to the cardinal.’
This man who needed every centavo to survive was a great intercessor. A great man of communion. An intercessor of goodness, reminding us of goodness and generosity. While people who owned much, higher than for this man was capable of forgetting profit in order to give a gift to his bishop. Foolishness in the eyes of the world, that wisdom from above and he was like the intercessor sent by God to teach me a lesson. At yung araw po na iyon ay Valentines’ day at yun lang ang natanggap kong gift. Walang nakaalaala sa akin. Except that poor vendor, the insignificant people of this world. They are the great intercessors. Not only praying for us but sending us valuable reminders from above. Thanks to Saint Jude, we know what communion is. We hope that through his intercession we may learn to be people of communion, a parish of communion and a national shrine of communion.