Cardinal Tagle on Ash Wednesday: Change begins within

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued a reminder about genuine change as Catholics marked Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day penitential season of Lent. 

"Kapag walang masyadong nangyayaring pagbabago sa lipunan, ang isa nating dapat tingnan ay ang loob," Tagle said in his homily at the Arzobispado de Manila on Wednesday, March 1. (If we do not see that much change in society, we need to look within.) 

"Ang pinakamahalaga natin siguro na kontribusyon sa bayan at sa mundo ngayon ay ang pagbabagong-loob," Tagle added. (Perhaps our most important contribution to the country and the world today is a change of heart.)

Tagle delivered this homily before marking foreheads with ashes to symbolize repentance from sin. 

This ritual begins the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Lent leads to Holy Week, when Christians commemorate the passion and death of Jesus, then to Easter, when they celebrate Jesus rising from the dead.

While Tagle did not explicitly refer to politics, his Ash Wednesday message comes as President Rodrigo Duterte governs on a platform of "change," though marred by a bloody anti-drug campaign.

Word of God vs useless chatter

In his homily on Ash Wednesday, Tagle also warned against useless chatter, and reminded his flock to focus on the Word of God. 

"Minsan, mas binibigyan natin ng panahon ang kung anu-anong salita. Hindi naman nanggagaling sa Diyos, pero 'yun ang pinahahalagahan. Nagre-react tayo at tumutugon sa mga salita na hindi naman galing sa Diyos," the cardinal said.

(Sometimes, we give too much time to all kinds of words. These do not come from God, but we give importance to these. We react and respond to words that do not come from God.)

He said: "Buti pa 'yung mga walang katuturang salita, pinakikinggan at may tumutugon. At walang tigil ha. Pero 'pag Salita ng Diyos, meron bang tumutugon?" (Good for useless chatter, people listen to and respond to these. But if it's the Word of God, is there anyone responding?)

Tagle also reminded Filipinos about genuine charity, which does not call attention to oneself.

He recalled the story of an anonymous donor who, on Monday, February 27, fed around 3,000 families in Parola, Tondo, who lost their houses due to fire.

He contrasted this donor with people who love having their photos taken when they donate. 

"Ang isang mahalagang bahagi ng pagbabagong-loob, ang loob, hindi na nakabaling sa sarili. Nakabaling ito sa Diyos, sa pamamagitan ng kanyang salita, at nakabaling sa kapwa," the cardinal said. 

(One important aspect of change of heart is that it does not focus on oneself. It focuses on God, through his Word, and focuses on others.) – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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