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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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English translation of the Tagalog homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas at the Mass for the fortieth death anniversary of Benigno Aquino Jr. at Santo Domingo Church last August 21, 2023, at 10:00 am

Blood is life. When blood runs out we die. Rich or poor, young or old, wise or ignorant, female or male—we are all equal. We need blood. All blood is red. Blood can take no other color. There is no yellow blood or blue blood. There is no rainbow-colored blood.

The shedding of Abel’s blood at the hands of brother Cain is a sin that cries out from the earth calling for justice. In just the first pages of the Bible, we are taken aback by the spilling of the blood of a murdered brother. When something is stolen, it can be returned. When blood is stolen and life is lost, how can it be returned? Thou shall not kill. God’s command is clear.

Bloodshed was met with vengeance. King David and his descendants killed many enemies. Because he had bloodied hands, he did not see the fulfillment of the promised House of God.

Blood became the payment for the blood that was shed in the hands of fellow human beings. To end the revenge of blood for blood, the Lord God gave us His Body and Blood at the Last Supper and on the cross for the forgiveness of the sins of the world.

Blood is life. God’s Blood is God’s love. There is no greater love than to shed blood for the beloved. That is what we are doing today—renewing again for our time what Jesus did—offering again to the Father, the Blood and Body of Jesus, as atonement for the sins of each one and the sins of the whole world.

God’s blood is life for the world. The blood of Jesus is our gift for eternity. The blood of Jesus is life for the dead. The blood of Jesus challenges us to also offer our lives for one another.

Blood spilled and flowed on the tarmac of the airport forty years ago. We were still seminarians. Some of you may not have been born yet.

The nation and the world were aghast by the beastly murder at the airport. Emotions swelled and we shouted “Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na!”. Hindi ka nag-iisa Ninoy!

In Liwasang Bonifacio we went with our protest placards. On Ayala Avenue yellow confetti rained. We cried. We got mad. We were confused. We were puzzled. We stood up sang Bayan Ko with fists raised. Thousands gathered and lined up under the heat of the sun to pay their respects to the body of Senator Ninoy here in Santo Domingo. His blood-stained clothes and black bruised face, still bearing the marks of having fallen from the beastly slaughter, enraged the country to rise from fear and get out of our blindness. We were shaken and shocked. We want to see a new day dawning. We will keep watch. Hindi ka nag-iisa.

That was the seed planted on the tarmac that resulted in peaceful change in EDSA People Power 1986. The dictator sowed a bullet and harvested a revolution. No one died or was killed at our EDSA People Power. The dictator was allowed to escape alive. The blood on the tarmac rose up, flew and nested in the heart of the Filipino who woke up and groaned never to close his eyes again.

After forty years, here we are in the same church where he laid in state. What for? Does it still matter? Why are we here? Have we forgotten?

The teaching of EDSA is a peaceful way of change. Edsa taught us that truth, freedom, and justice can be achieved without violence.

And yet….

And yet we agreed with our elected leaders to solve the drug addiction problem by killing the addicts. The blood on the tarmac has overflowed into the sidewalks and streets. We have our countrymen’s blood in our dark alleys and lightless houses in the dump sites.

The blood of the senator and the blood of the “throw-away brethren” are equal before God. We are all the same undeserving and unworthy children. There is the wrath of hell for a nation that stands on the piled corpses of the murdered brethren. And we clapped and laughed as they were killed! Horror!

Blood is life but spilling the blood of others in murder is a curse for us. There is a final judgment and no one will escape the Judge of the living and the dead.

The killing of the countrymen is still ongoing, not only with gun bullets but now with greater sophistication. The tyranny of numbers of our congressional bills and the favored signatures of court judgments that are blind to the return of stolen wealth and unpaid taxes are bleeding the nation again.

The nation is also bleeding because of the high level of corruption hindi na abot ng tanaw ng saranggola ni Pepe.

The nation is also bleeding due to the Philhealth funds during the pandemic which have flown into some mysterious rivers and oceans of corruption.

The nation is also bleeding because of the covering up and harboring of elected murderers who need to be brought to the laws of justice and order.

The countrymen are also bleeding from reckless fake news and paid trolls that distort our thoughts, reason, and decisions. The people also bleed when the government is waltzing in fashion shows while the people are dying from calamities. The people are bleeding and dying because of billions of confidential and intelligence funds that are spent beyond audit while the price of the rice of the poor is skyrocketing.

We used to be flooded with the blood of our countrymen who were killed in the drug war. Now it is flooding and drowning in the depths of debt. Corruption kills. It is the blood and sweat of the poor that pays for it. Lies kill. Liars go to hell.

Blood is life. Truth is life. Honesty is life. Heroism is life.

We woke up in 1983 because of Senator Ninoy’s blood. We are saved and forgiven from sin because of the blood of Jesus.

The blood is still spilled and wasted but why does it seem like we have gotten used to it and become numb? Wearied? Uncaring? Shameless tolerance for wickedness? It is hard to wake up the sleep pretenders! Those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

It is not enough to remember the heroism of Senator Ninoy. We have to get up and wake up from our weary sense of patriotism. Let us stop the bleeding before it is too late. How we started in 1983 is how we must start today.

“If then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.”

The nation has a problem. The problem is me. Not them! The nation has the cure. The cure is in me. Not with them! When I change and repent, the nation will change too. Blood is life. May the blood of Jesus and the blood of heroes wake us up.

The blood of the hero Ninoy has a voice. The Filipino is worth dying for. I have done my best. Your turn now!

The Lord says. Do this in remembrance of me.

Tayo naman. Walang iwanan. Tuloy ang laban ***

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