MANILA, April 10, 2014—With the Holy Week just a few days away, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Wednesday, April 9, called on those who bow down to power and wealth to “shun these false idols and accord true worship only to God”.
“If you have money as your god, then all you care for is what you have in your pocket. Because of this, you may not even give your employees their rightful due just so you can have more,” Tagle told thousands of Catholics in between rounds of deafening applause.
“Just think of the countless lives that the lust for riches, for power, and for women have destroyed… The god of money, the god of power, the god of flesh lead us away from God, our Father,” he explained.
The eloquent prelate made this emotional appeal during the “liturgical reopening” of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica) which gathered under one roof some of the biggest names in Philippine politics, business, and high society.
If only to be reminded of their duties as members of the privileged few, among the bigwigs listening to the cardinal’s homily were President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) and his sisters Kris, Viel, and Ballsy; former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and wife Dr. Luisa Ejercito; Senate President and Mrs. Franklin Drilon, and others from the local church hierarchy and the diplomatic corps.
Drawing inspiration from the Book of Daniel, which tells the story of how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship a “god” other than the “one God of Israel”, which the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to do on pain of death, Tagle exhorted the assembled faithful to learn true worship and reject false idols.
The prelate was delighted that the historic reopening of the Cathedral fell on an official holiday, “Araw ng Kagitingan” (“Day of Valor”), which partly explained why it had been well-attended.
Tagle also expressed amazement that the Old Testament reading from the Prophet Daniel (3:14-20, 91-92, 95) concerning “true worship” was just the right reading that set the tone for the entire occasion.
“God really is wise that He chose this particular passage for us here,” he exclaimed.
The event marked another turning point in the more than 400-year history of the Manila Cathedral, which had been closed to the public for over two years for a much-needed overhaul.
In his opening remarks, Tagle welcomed back churchgoers and guests to a “more beautiful Mania Cathedral” that is “worthy of the dignity of the Church”.
“Now we are all home. Welcome home. Welcome home to this house of the archdiocese, the home of our God, the home of our Mother,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián)