MANILA, Jan. 16, 2014—For the top churchman of the Manila Archdiocese, welcoming 2014 is not only about the worldly celebration of raucous festivities. Above all the noise, what matters is the holistic preparation of oneself in facing a new year ahead.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in his homily during the New Year’s Eve mass held at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish, called on the Filipino faithful to uncover the true essence of New Year by shunning materialism, imitating the Blessed Mother, and fostering peace and fraternity with others.
“True blessing comes from our relationship with the Lord, for this relationship leads us to everlasting peace and happiness,” he said in the vernacular.
Tagle emphasized that no amount of material wealth could sustain individuals during the darkest and most trying times, noting that true blessedness could only be attained through the Divine.
“Do not seek for blessings detached from the Lord. If the happiness we seek is separate from Him, it might only give temporary happiness and blessedness,” he said.
“Real blessedness could only be found in our lives through our relationship with the Lord. While working, studying, and doing all of our tasks, let us do them in relationship with God for apart from God there is no blessing that we can really talk about,” he said.
Suffering from devastation
Tagle urged the faithful to look on individuals who felt the wrath of natural calamities that struck the nation late last year, noting that even if they nearly lost everything, they still manage to smile and feel hopeful because of their strong faith.
“Look at our brothers and sisters who have lost almost everything—their livelihood, shelter, and even loved ones in Leyte, Samar, and Capiz. Even if they have suffered a lot, some of them are still filled with hope because of their relationship with the Lord. Everything may vanish but if you are connected with Him, you will experience being happy,” he said.
The senior prelate urged the faithful to shun materialism, noting that the celebration of New Year is not measured by material richness.
He also called on the youth to “develop a relationship with God” and for the elders to set an example to others that true blessing is manifested through Christ being alive in one’s words and actions.
“It is okay if you won’t receive new shoes, new bags, and all other new things this New Year…Young people nowadays are led to the misconception that blessing is manifested by signature and quality things. The elders should set the example that blessing is simply Christ living in us,” he said.
According to Tagle, “the greatest blessing came with the greatest and the deepest relationship of God with us (and this is fulfilled when Christ was born).”
It is through Mary’s acceptance of her Divine mission to give birth to Christ that led to the fulfillment of this blessing, he added.
“Mary faithfully accepted her mission from the Lord. She treated the Son of God as her own son. Even if the conditions present are unsuitable, she gave birth and cared for Him in the manner that a loving mother would do,” he said.
Tagle called on the faithful to express gratitude to Mary who heeded the call of the Lord, paving the way to the blessedness of all mankind. He also urged them to imitate her acts in bringing Christ closer to others.
“Like Mary, let us heed the call of the Lord to for us to become a source of blessing to others…The greatest blessing is Jesus who came to us through the Blessed Mother. We, her children, should be like her, we bring Jesus to other people,” he said.
Tagle also urged the youth to bring Christ to their peers instead of introducing them to various kinds of vices.
“Our dear youth, instead of cigarettes, liquor, and drugs, bring Christ to your peers. He is that one blessing who will never fade away and vanish. This is the greatest blessing we can give to our friends, to our family, to our nation,” he said.
“I hope that through us, Christ would be able to reach all of our brothers and sisters,” he added.
Restore peace, brotherhood
In welcoming the new year, Tagle said that it is also important to restore peace through fraternal relationship, since all are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, Tagle said: “If we are to scrutinize all conflicts, violence, and the lack of peace, these are rooted to the absence of brotherhood among us. The way we treat each other nowadays lacks a sense of fraternity. Judgment is always tainted by distrust as we perceive others as a threat.”
“Even among nations, we compete with one another. We even compete against each other. We bear the mentality that as long as it is favorable on our end, we do not care about what it will bring to others,” he added, noting the words of the Supreme Pontiff.
“Restore peace through brotherhood and sisterhood. We all share one Father, Mother, and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. If we live in peace with God, we will live as brothers and sisters to one another. Let us strive to achieve this as a way toward peace,” Tagle said. (Jennifer Orillaza)