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Homily for the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of San Roque, 12 Dec 2023, Jn 4, 19-26
What did Jesus mean when he said in v.23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.”?
We can only answer this question by going back to the very start of the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman by the well. (Humihingi lang siya ng tubig na maiinom, ang daming sinabi ng babae; bat daw siya kinakausap gayong Samaritana siya. In v.10 Jesus answered and said, “If you only knew the GIFT of God and WHO is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus is talking about two things: first, the GIFT of God and secondly, the IDENTITY of the one asking for water—namely, himself. How are these two things related to “worshipping in spirit and truth?” The SPIRIT is the gift of God whom Jesus describes as “the living water”; and secondly, the TRUTH has to do with the identity of Jesus, the one who is asking for water. That he is the Messiah, the one through whom God’s gift of the Spirit will be poured out on the world like a living water.
These are timely reminders especially on this day that we are celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of this cathedral Church of San Roque. True worship is not about a place but rather a disposition to receive the gift of all gifts—the Spirit, who will make it possible for us to be reborn, to be renewed, and to live a new humanity in Christ, as members of his body the Church. Only Christ can reveal to us the truth, namely, “everything about ourselves”, about our call to participate in his mission—to be mediators of the true covenant, the permanent bridge or connection between God and humankind.
In Genesis 28, we hear about Jacob resting his head on a stone, falling asleep and having a dream. How in that dream he saw a stairway, or rather a bridge connecting heaven and earth, God and humankind, with angels ascending and descending on it. We’re also told how, when he got awakened from that dream, he anointed the stone with oil on which he had laid his head. He declared it as a sacred place of worship and called it BETHEL, “God’s dwelling place.”
The dream actually represents the mission of Jacob as a personification of the Israelite nation, to be the mediator of the covenant, the bridge between God and human beings. In the Gospel of John, that bridge becomes Christ himself—in whom humanity and divinity have been united into one person.
And so by receiving his gift of the Spirit, we are empowered to live in him and take part in his mission—to become bridges ourselves. That should be the fruit of worshipping in the Spirit and truth—we become ourselves the very temple, the very house of God which has “many rooms”, the home which is ready to make space for all who are ready to respond to the invitation to LOVE GOD AND LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS ONESELF, the invitation to love one another as Christ has loved us.