Cardinal Tagle on Easter: Sing ‘alleluia’ amid gunfire

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
Cardinal Tagle on Easter: Sing ‘alleluia’ amid gunfire
Cardinal Tagle cites the terrorist attacks in Belgium as a ‘tomb’ that should be conquered by Easter

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle opened the celebration of Easter on Sunday, March 27, reminding Catholics to “look for Jesus” despite “tombs” in the world such as the recent attacks in Belgium. 

“As guns and bombs make noise in the world, sing your ‘alleluia’! Don’t let the bombs and the gunfire dominate our ‘alleluia,’” Tagle said during the Easter Vigil Mass late Saturday evening, March 26, in the Manila Cathedral. 

Easter is Christianity’s most important feast, which marks the day Jesus rose from the dead.

In the Catholic Church, the Easter celebration begins late Saturday evening, during the traditional Easter Vigil. 

Considered the most important celebration in the Catholic Church, the hours-long Easter Vigil includes symbolic rituals such as the lighting of candles in the dark, to represent the light of Christ, and the baptism of adults into the Catholic Church.

The Easter Vigil ran from 8 to 11 pm on Saturday in the Manila Cathedral, the Philippines’ premier basilica.

During the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday, Tagle cited the terrorist attacks in Belgium on Tuesday, March 22, that killed at least 31 people and left 300 wounded. 

Tagle – also the president of Caritas Internationalis, the world’s biggest network of Catholic charities – compared the Belgium bombings to the tomb of Jesus. (READ: FULL TEXT: Cardinal Tagle’s Easter homily)

He described the tomb as a symbol of death that Jesus conquered when he rose again on Easter, leaving the tomb empty. 

Referring to the Belgium bombings, he said, “Ang dami na namang namatay, at maraming inililibing sa takot.” (Many people died again, and many more continue to be buried in fear.)

‘Love will prevail’

Despite this, Tagle said he has seen an early sign of hope in Belgium.

The other day, for instance, he saw a TV report about a person in Belgium who drew a “never-ending” pattern of hearts on a sidewalk.  

Walang tigil na puso,” he said, “para ‘yung mga maglalakad doon sa sidewalk, ang makita nila, puro puso, puro puso.” (It was a never-ending pattern of hearts, so that those walking along the sidewalk would see many hearts, many hearts.)

On one of those hearts was written, “Love will prevail.”

“Whoever did that was searching for Jesus, and has seen the power of the Resurrection, and is proclaiming it to people who have experienced the horror of death, affirming that love will prevail. Love will prevail,” he said.

Tagle explained: “When you see closed doors, when you see closed hearts, go and say, ‘Peace be with you’ – the peace of the Risen Lord. Don’t be intimidated by fake walls, barriers. The Risen Lord can cross them, cross those barriers, bringing only your peace, the peace of the Risen Lord.” 


In his homily, the cardinal cited other examples of “many signs of death” – and “not only physical death due to poverty, hunger, and wars, but also deaths of cultures.” (READ: Tagle hits bishops, parents, politicians over ‘throwaways’

“How many people have been enticed to enter pearly gates which are really tombs? Tombs of vices. Tombs of illegal drugs. Tombs of corruption. Tombs of abuse of women, children, the helpless. Tombs of consumerism, materialism, human trafficking,” Tagle said. 

“Please do not get discouraged,” the cardinal continued. “We know that the tomb is empty. We know that Jesus is alive, and he will not be touched by death again. We have to believe in that. We have to search for him, we have to see him, and we have to proclaim him.”

‘Easter is a time to look for Jesus’

At the same time, he also posed a challenge specifically to Filipinos. “Ano bang hanap ng mga Pilipino?” (What do Filipinos look for?)

BIGGEST FEAST. Hundreds of Catholics pack the Manila Cathedral for the Easter Vigil on March 26, 2015, as the mark the most important feast in the Catholic Church. Photo by Roy Lagarde

The cardinal delivered this message at a time when Filipinos prepare to elect their next leaders, including a new president, on May 9. 

Tama na ‘yung palahanap ng walang katapusang kayamanan; kahit na magnakaw, mandaya, yumaman lamang.” 

(Enough of always looking for never-ending wealth, in a way that it’s okay to steal, to cheat, just to get rich.)

Tama na ang paghahanap na parang gutom na gutom sa recognition – mapansin lang, masaya na, at kapag hindi napansin, parang inilibing.

(Enough of being too hungry for recognition – in a way that we’re very happy when noticed and, when we’re not, we feel like we’ve been buried.)

Tama na ang paghahanap sa kapangyarihan na hindi naman gagamitin para sa paglilingkod; gagamitin lang naman pala para sa sariling kapakanan. Tama na, babalik na naman tayo niyan sa libingan.

(Enough of looking for power that won’t be used in service, that turns out will be used only for personal gain. Enough; we will just return to the tomb.)

Tagle said: “My dear brothers and sisters, Easter is a time to look for Jesus. Those who look for Jesus will find Jesus. The women who looked for him were blessed with an appearance of Jesus. You will find what you look for.” 

SIGN OF HOPE. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle baptizes new adult Catholics during the Easter Vigil Mass at the Manila Cathedral on March 26, 2016. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, also issued a message for Easter Sunday.

“The emptiness of the tomb tells us He is risen,” Villegas said. “The emptying of ourselves will convince our cynical world that He indeed is the Risen Lord.”

“His resurrection happened in silence, not in noise,” the CBCP president added.

Villegas said, “It is when we work in silent hiddenness that the Easter glory best shines in the Church.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email