Youth pick ‘$30 M’ over Mass; Tagle bothered

Paterno Esmaquel II
At the start of Holy Week, the Manila archbishop says Catholics should set their priorities straight

EXAMINING PRIORITIES. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle says his first Palm Sunday Mass at the reopened Manila Cathedral on April 13, 2014. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Quizzed by the prelate, young Catholics in an initiation ritual promised Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, that they will always choose God over pleasures like truancy or watching TV.

This elated Tagle. That time, he was officiating a sacrament called confirmation, during which Catholics confirm the baptism promises made for them as babies.

Tagle recalled in his homily on Palm Sunday, April 13: “Sabi ko, mahal na nila ang Diyos. Kayang magdusa. Hindi magbubulakbol! Hindi manonood ng TV!” (I said, they really love the Lord. They’re willing to suffer. They wouldn’t choose truancy! They wouldn’t choose watching TV!)

Then he posed his million-dollar question. “Sabi koang huling tanong, ano ang mas mahalaga, ang Misa o 30 million dollars?” (I said, my last question is, what is more important, the Mass or 30 million dollars?)

The youth said in chorus, “30 million dollars!”

Their answer bothered Tagle. Catholics, after all, consider the Mass the highest form of worship, during which they receive round wafers believed to be the body of Christ.

Tingnan ninyo,” the cardinal said, “kay daling ipagpalit ang Diyos. Kay dali na piliin ano ang convenient, ano ang mas makaka-satisfy ng sarili ko.” (See that, the Lord is so easy to replace. It’s so easy to choose what is convenient, what will better satisfy myself.)

Tagle: ‘Not a joke’

By doing this, he led his flock in setting their priorities straight at the start of Holy Week.

He reflected on Palm Sunday, when Catholics recall the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, which leads to his suffering and death on the cross on Good Friday. (READ/WATCH: PALM SUNDAY: Obedience in Suffering)

In his first Palm Sunday Mass at the reopened Manila Cathedral, Tagle said: “In the example of Jesus, love of God is paramount, and no inconvenience will deter him; no suffering will prevent him from loving God.”

PALM SUNDAY. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle sprinkles holy water on palm fronds at the Manila Cathedral. Photo by Noli Yamsuan/Archdiocese of Manila

Later in his homily, he tested the crowd by asking the same question: What is more important, the Mass or $30 million? An amused audience responded, “Misa.” (The Mass.)

Good answer, Tagle said, but he added: “This is not a joke, because in daily life, we are offered many, many things – many conveniences that might tempt us to forget and to abandon obedience to God.”

For disaster survivors, workers

Linked to this obedience, he also said, is “solidarity with the suffering, with the poor, the lost, the confused, those who are looking for God.”

Tagle urged his flock to assure these people that “they are not alone.”

Tagle told them to bring this message “to our brothers and sisters still suffering in Zamboanga, Bohol, Samar, Leyte, Capiz, Aklan, Iloilo, Palawan, Cebu, because of the typhoon Yolanda; to the people living on the streets because they do not have shelters; people who are enduring pain because they don’t have medicines; women who are hurt and who continue hurting because of betrayal and abuse; to workers who do not get the respect and the just wages that they deserve.”

“To these people,” he said, “let us be the heart of Jesus, telling them and assuring them: Even the others have left you and have forgotten you, I am here, and I bring you the love of Jesus.”

He made a similar message when he reopened the Manila Cathedral on Wednesday, April 9. On that day, he denounced “false gods” such as money, power, and lust that make people deprive the poor of their wages and treat persons as “commodities.” (READ: Tagle reopens Manila Cathedral: ‘PH too will rise’)

“Let us not exchange God for false gods and idols. Let us not waste the beauty of this house of worship and the significance of our celebration,” Tagle said. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

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