MANILA, Philippines – Kicking off the traditional Simbang Gabi (Dawn Masses) in preparation for Christmas, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle warned against anxiety, bullying, and abuse of power as attitudes that prevent people from being happy.
“Sabi ni San Juan Bautista, huwag kang bully. Do not bully anyone. Huwag mong gagamitin ang iyong kapangyarihan mambastos. Huwag mong gagamitin ang iyong kapangyarihan para piitin o i-coerce ang iba. Huwag mong gamitin ang iyong armas para magparatang ng hindi totoo,” Tagle said in his Simbang Gabi homily at the Manila Cathedral on Sunday.
(As Saint John the Baptist said, do not be a bully. Do not bully anyone. Do not use your power to become rude. Don’t use your power to pressure or coerce others. Do not use your arms to make false accusations.)
He added, “Huwag kang mangmamaliit. Hindi porke meron kang posisyon, ‘yan ay karapatan na para mangyurak sa kapwa. Hindi ka magiging masaya sa ganyan. Sa katunayan ang bully, ang gumagamit ng kapangyarihan para maliitin ang kapwa, ‘yan ang pinakatakot at insecure na tao.”
(Do not belittle others. Even if you have a position, your position doesn’t give you the right to destroy others. You will not be happy that way. In fact, the bullies who use power to humiliate others, they are the most afraid and insecure individuals.)
Tagle delivered this homily on the first day of the Simbang Gabi, which fell on the 3rd Sunday of Advent – also called Gaudete Sunday, or the Sunday of Joy. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Thousands flock to churches for Simbang Gabi 2018)
Tagle’s message about bullying comes as President Rodrigo Duterte again badmouths the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines.
Most recently, Duterte said bishops should be “killed” for supposedly doing nothing but criticize government. He also suggested that Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a critic of his drug war, is himself into drugs – a charge denied by David and denounced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Tagle on Sunday said his reminder, while written during the time of Jesus Christ, was as if it was written “just yesterday.”
‘Be joyful in the Lord’
The cardinal spoke against bullying in the context of the need for “joy in the Lord.”
“Ang taong mapayapa sa sarili, ang taong maligaya, hindi kailanman magyayabang kasi maligaya siya sa Panginoon. Ang maligaya sa Panginoon, ipagyayabang niya ang Panginoon,” Tagle said. (A person who is peaceful is happy, and will never be arrogant because he or she is joyful in the Lord. A person who is joyful in the Lord, will boast of the Lord.)
Taking words from the readings Tagle said: “Alisin na ang pangamba, alisin ang panghihina ng loob, alisin ang pagkabalisa. Bakit? Mayroong magliligtas sa iyo. Malapit na ang Panginoon, at dahil siya ang magliligtas sa iyo sa lahat ng iyong kinatatakutan, handa kang magalak, pupuwede kang magalak.”
(Remove all worries, avoid losing hope, remove all anxiety. Why? Because there’s someone who will save you. It’s Jesus, and his coming is near. Because he will be the one to save you from all your fears, you can be happy.)
Aside from the Manila Cathedral where Tagle said Mass, other churches drew thousands of Filipino Catholics on Sunday, the first day of the Philippines’ traditional dawn Masses.
The Simbang Gabi is a 9-day series of dawn Masses – a novena – that is usually observed from December 16 until December 24, Christmas Eve.
For those who cannot attend dawn Masses, many parishes also hold evening Masses called the anticipated Simbang Gabi, from the evening of December 15 to the evening of December 23.
Here is Rappler’s list of Simbang Gabi schedules across the Philippines. – Rappler.com