MANILA, April 17, 2014 — “Return to nothingness, focus on Jesus Christ, and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.”
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Maundy Thursday relayed this message to the Catholic faithful, telling them how to concretely live out the anointing of the Holy Spirit this Lenten season.
“Our gathering is a sign of our willingness to be renewed as we welcome the anointing of Holy Spirit, the life and love of God,” Tagle said in his homily during the Chrism Mass held at the newly-renovated Manila Cathedral.
‘Back to nothingness’
In his message to the Catholic faithful, the Cardinal stressed the importance of going back to humble beginnings, always remembering that everyone comes from “nothingness”.
“We have nothing to be proud of, for we all came from dust. We only rely on the Lord for it is in nothingness where we came from. We all came from our personal Nazareths,” Tagle said, referring to a “hidden, insignificant, and unknown” city in Israel where Jesus Christ first proclaimed his anointing.
Tagle reminded the faithful not to forget their personal “Nazareth”, since it opens the “affairs of the mission of the Church.”
“That is how God works—simply, humbly, and we should not go counter to that action of God. For the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit can spread more powerfully and effectively if it comes from Nazareth,” he added.
He also reminded priests to return to the “simplicity, hiddenness, and poverty” of their personal Nazareth, so that their anointing “will bear the fruits that it is supposed to bear.”
“When Jesus called you, where were you from? You were all nothing, you were all humble. Every priest comes from Nazareth. We hope this precious anointing, called ordination, will not make us forget our simple Nazareth,” Tagle said.
Focusing on Christ
Tagle also emphasized the importance of focusing on Christ, the one anointed by God.
“As we listen to [Christ] and focus on Him, then we become partners in the fulfillment of God’s mission for humanity—a humanity that is enjoying salvation, a community that will experience liberation, a year of favor from the Lord,” he said.
Focusing on oneself will not lead to the fulfillment of the Good News for it is only through Christ that this spiritual prophecy may be accomplished, Tagle noted.
“The year of favor will not happen if we focus on ourselves. It will not happen if we focus on our projects. It will happen if we listen to Jesus,” he said.
The cardinal also reminded priests to fight the temptation of being regarded as the center of their respective parishes, noting that the focus of the faithful must always rest on the Lord.
Anointed by the Spirit
Shunning ambition and pride to seek the love of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit are ways to fulfill the spiritual prophecy as Christ did, the cardinal noted.
“In [Christ] is the light and love of God and the Holy Spirit. Nothing else. No ambition, no pride, no self-thinking,” Tagle said.
“We learn from Jesus. I know lay people, together with the religious and the ordained, we all want, in our frail and even hoping manner, we all desire to bring a year of favor, especially to the poor and the suffering,” he added, urging the faithful not to waste their personal anointing.
Echoing the message of St. Paul, Tagle called on the faithful to “keep their eyes focused on the things of God, the things of the Spirit,” while veering away from the allure of the spirit of the world, no matter how tempting it may be.
“Our prayer life, our openness to Christ, our attentiveness to the Word of Jesus, and our docility to the Holy Spirit will help us to become real partners of Jesus in fulfilling in our broken world God’s promise of salvation and a year of favor,” Tagle said.
Present during the Chrism Mass were Archbishop Emeritus of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, together with the Auxiliary Bishops, priests, and lay faithful of the Manila Archdiocese. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)