MANILA, Philippines – Delivering a midnight sermon to thousands of Black Nazarene devotees at the Quirino Grandstand at the Luneta on Thursday, January 9, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on the faithful to pray for peace in the Middle East, and for the thousands of Filipinos in danger of getting caught in the middle of the brewing conflict in the region.
“Ating alalahanin na sa ilang bahagi ng mundo ay nakaamba ang panganib ng haranasan. Hari nawa, huwag ito umuwi sa giyera, sa digmaan. Ipanalangin po natin na maging ligtas ang ating mga kapwa sa Middle East, humupa ang mga pagnanais na sirain ang kapwa, humupa ang mga hangarin na maghiganti, at ipanalangin ang mga kapwa Pilipino, at ang kanilang mga pamilya dito na nangangamba,” Tagle began his homily, then asked the congregation to observe a moment of silence.
(Let us remember that in some parts of the world, there is a threat of danger and violence. May it not lead to war, to fighting. Let us pray for the safety of our fellowmen in the Middle East, to dispel the desire to destroy one’s neighbor, to dispel the desire to take vengeance, and let us pray for our fellow Filipinos and their families here who are anxious.)
Tagle is president of Caritas Internationalis, a global network of Catholic charities in charge of helping out in the Middle East and other parts of the world. He had once traveled to war-torn Syria.
The Cardinal then walked the devotees through the theme of this year’s Traslacion, the arduous procession of the Black Nazarene icon through the narrow streets and alleys of Quiapo, Manila which was to begin before sunrise.
The theme was “Iba’t ibang kaloob, iisang debosyon, tungo sa iisang misyon,” or “Different gifts, a single devotion, toward a single mission.”
Tagle drew his message from the service’s scriptural readings, including the quintessential passage from the Gospel of John that reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but have everlasting life,” the central teaching of the Christian faith.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom the Black Nazarene icon represents, lived out his mission with devotion, Tagle said, which meant he did not do so begrudgingly as though it was a mere obligation.
Devotion implies loyalty, Tagle said, and loyalty can only be given to an object who is faithful, that is, God, whose love for humanity leads not to destruction or damnation but to life and salvation.
He urged the faithful to express their devotion using their different God-given gifts towards the singular mission of every Christian believer: to keep their fellowmen from perdition and instead, lead them to moral salvation that leads to eternal life.
“Hindi misyon ni Hesus ang magpahamak. Ang kanyang misyon, magkaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan ang sanlibutan…. Hindi kapahamakan kundi buhay, hindi kaparusahan kundi pagliligtas,” Tagle said.
(Jesus’ mission was not to destroy. His mission was to give the world eternal life…. Not destruction but life, not punishment but salvation.)
These, he said, Jesus Christ embodied even to the point of carrying a cross – an instrument of punishment and torture – on which he was nailed and died.
This, Tagle wanted the devotees to have in mind as they set out to commemorate Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Calvary, during the Traslacion. – Rappler.com