MANILA, Jan. 9, 2014—Addressing the sea of devotees who flocked to the Quirino Grandstand on Thursday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on the Filipino faithful to shun the widespread graft and corruption hounding the state.
Tagle, in his opening mass for the Feast of the Black Nazarene, urged thousands of devotees to be proud in professing their faith and devotion to Christ while burying in shame immoral acts, apparently slamming corruption issues involving the anomalous use of public funds.
“My brothers and sisters, let us not be ashamed to proclaim to the world that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him,” Tagle said in the vernacular.
“I find it very puzzling on why acts that we should be ashamed of are being committed with pride. For instance, we are now unashamed to steal when we are supposed to be ashamed of it,” he said in Filipino.
‘Praying is remembering’
In his homily, Tagle challenged the laity to express their faith and devotion through three distinct ways: praying, following, and witnessing Christ in their day-to-day living.
According to him, praying is tantamount to expressing one’s love and always remembering the Lord who has saved His people from distress.
“We, Filipinos, have a beautiful remark about praying. We always say that ‘We never forget to call on the Lord’ and it is in this regard that we can refer to prayer as a means of not forgetting the presence of the Divine in our lives,” he said.
Tagle said that those who truly remember the Lord must also remember fellow individuals who are in need of great help, following the recent calamities that struck the nation.
“If we truly pray, if we are truly united with the Lord, we will not forget our brothers and sisters,” he said, urging the faithful to remember Filipinos who were devastated by Typhoon Pablo, Typhoon Santi, and the Zamboanga stand-off.
He also reminded the public of the recent devastation wrought by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that jolted Bohol last October 15 and Super Typhoon Yolanda, which left thousands of Filipinos dead as it struck Central Visayas last November 8.
“We might be forgetting about Bohol. And up until when would we remember our brothers and sisters who suffered the wrath of Yolanda?,” Tagle said. “Those who do not forget the Lord will also not forget them.”
Shunning greed, abuses
The prelate said that treading the path of Christ does not simply mean following His footsteps, but also letting His lessons and examples become the life standards followed by the faithful.
“We could not follow Christ if our minds are always filled with the greed for money, more so, if we could swindle and abuse our brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Those who truly think of Christ will never do anything that Christ would not do. In this occasion, we should ask ourselves: ‘Are we truly becoming closer to Christ? Are we following His examples?” he said.
Tagle urged the faithful to become a witness of Christ through reflecting in their words and acts that the Lord is true and present among them.
“I hope that our attitude and being would reflect Christ as our model, not that we are only good in speaking but our actions reflect otherwise,” he said.
“That should not be the case. We have to really manifest that Christ is alive, especially in our relationship with others,” he added.
Devotion as expression of love
Tagle said that the devotion showed by thousands of Filipinos to the Black Nazarene is an expression of God’s love for His people.
“Why do we become very emotional in expressing our devotion to the Black Nazarene?…Each of us may have our own answer to this question…but it all boils down to one thing—this is an expression of how God loves us. The Black Nazarene carried our burden simply because of love,” he said.
Tagle said that the laity faithfully expresses their devotion and gratitude to the Black Nazarene as a response to this “unconditional” love.
“We respond through our devotion, and this explains why there are thousands of Black Nazarene devotees,” he said.
“We respond to Christ’s carrying of our burden by carrying His burden as well. This is how Christ has loved us and our devotion is a manifestation of this love,” he said.
“Love for love—the love that Christ gave us is also returned with nothing else but love,” Tagle said.
Following the Holy Mass was the traditional procession involving the transfer of the Black Nazarene image from the Quirino Grandstand back to the Quiapo Church. Millions of devotees are expected to join the procession. (Jennifer Orillaza)