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Homily Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle Mass for the Deceased Priests and Religious Arzobispado de Manila Chapel, Intramuros November 8, 2019

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We thank God for bringing us together, and we thank God for this beautiful practice, a beautiful tradition in our Archdiocese [where we] dedicate one morning of Eucharistic to remember our Bishops, Priests, I don’t know if we have deacons, and religious men and women. Of course we do not forget our beloved lay people, our many co-workers in different ministries and apostolate who have also offered their lives in ministry and also to the Lord in eternal life.

Since we are gathered for the Eucharist we should really be [clothed] with thanks, Eucharist is thanksgiving. Although we know that many times the Eucharist the focus is not so much thanksgiving, the focus is petitions we ask for some blessings or graces or even penitential.

But we should not forget that the core of the Eucharist by its very name is thanksgiving as we remember Jesus. And as we are formed once again by Jesus’ body, through His word through His body and blood and through the spirit formed into our hearts And it is in the spirit of remembering the Lord who brings us into Himself even now that we thank God for our priests, our religious men and women.

And also express our hope that they who in their fragile ways her on earth have been part of Christ and part of Christ’s mission may enjoy the fullness of that communion in eternal life. For that is what Jesus promised in the Gospel.

Jesus prayed for His disciples while here on earth, “All those you gave me Father, I would have in my company where I am.” That’s the prayer of Jesus. “Where I am, may the disciples be with me.” That is His desire. This communion with him and if the disciples are with Him then they will see the glory that the father has given to Jesus.

Jesus has revealed His disciples the name of the Father. And He says, I will continue to reveal it so that your love for me, the Father’s love for Jesus may live in my disciples. And I may live in them. If it is beyond our imagination, so deep and so beautiful that eternal life, eternal bliss, heaven is Jesus living in us.

Now, St. Paul already said that, “to die is gain.” He has only one wish. It’s no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me. That’s eternal life even now. And I’m sure some moments of inspiration, we have experienced that. In prayer, in ministry, parang, “wow! I don’t know, I can explain it but parang it is not me,” and then it disappears.

Just like in Emmaus, after the recognition, disappears and then you continue with life. But we are given even now snippets of that. Eternal life is not something. But it is Jesus who graces us with his life. And who are we? Who are we? And it is the joy of the disciple. That is the joy of an apostle. And that is the joy of Jesus that He may live in us. St. John in his letter said, “We are God’s children now.” Even now but what we will be in the future?

In the new heavens, In the new earth? He said, that will still be revealed. But so we thank God for our own experiences of eternal life now. Jesus in us not merited but pure gift. And we thank God for our departed bishops, priests, religious men and women who have had such an experience and who in their ministry have led other people to experience Jesus in their lives, to experience the meaning of eternal life in this world.

And I’m sure there are many, there are many. Even the most broken priests, even the most temperamental sister could somehow be an instrument of God in conveying eternal life, Jesus in us. And we don’t claim any credit. It is pure gift. But for us who are here, still here, siguro sabi nga nila practice makes perfect.

Let us practice now the dispositions that will make us really focus on eternity which is not the afterlife, which is not the after world, but very concretely Jesus in us. Jesus in us. If I go back to Aristotle, parang nasa classroom. He said there are, parang three types of friendship what we call friendship. One is the friendship of pleasure. Parang you, I enjoy your company, I like you because of something delightful that you bring to me.

You make me laugh or I learn something from you. So, you are valuable because I find some comfort or some pleasure in me because of you. That’s friendship of pleasure or delight. The second is friendship of utility, usefulness. I am attracted to you. I like you because you are useful. There is some need in me that you are able to fulfill. Or look that’s why some of the rich people have many friends. They are useful.

And you see the type of politics that they have. It’s friendship of usefulness. If you are no longer useful, the friendship ends. You will be dropped and they move to another party that will be useful to them. So, it’s not party system it is friendship of utility, friendship of usefulness. But the third, he says is, the friendship of good. If you look at the first two, you are my friend because I gain something. I find some pleasure. I find something in my need that is fulfilled. But the third is, I love you, you.

Even if it is not pleasurable, even if it is not useful for me in fact you are a liability to me, but I’m not thinking of that. I’m not thinking of what comes back to me. I’m thinking of you. So, it’s literally I love you, You. You. That’s what Jesus did to us. What pleasure will Jesus get from us? If we bring pains to each other and to people and we bring more pain to Jesus. What use are we to Jesus? Technically, none! God created everything, what can we contribute to Him? But He just says, “I love you and I want to live in you.”

And we hope that we grow in that other directed action of life called love for that is an experience of eternal life. And hopefully we could say that to Jesus. Our brothers and sisters who we remember have been wounded not only in their human lives but in their ministry. I’m sure many of them have received so many criticisms.

They’ve undergone many misunderstanding even from within. But we just hope that even when they were being burned that they remained focused. Jesus is in me and I am in Jesus not because I deserve it but that’s how love goes. And we hope that the prayer of Jesus would be fulfilled, “That your love for me will live in them and I may live in them.”

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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