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FULLTEXT: Homily of Cubao Bp. Honesto Ongtioco during the Palm Sunday Mass

Isang pinagpala at magandang araw po sa ating lahat.

Today is Palm Sunday, the liturgical name is Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. It is Palm and passion. We heard in the gospel hew Jesus was hailed, welcomed by the people as he entered the City of Jerusalem, Hail King! Tribute to a great leader. And later on the same crowd will shout, crucify him! Crucify him! Passion.

Dear friends, palm Sunday of the passion of our Lord and COVID-19 pandemic, they have the same lessons, both can be considered as paradox. What is a paradox? There is a contradiction, but there is truth in these events. Coronavirus has spread fear, sadness, mourning and yet it has brought out many heroes. Heroes who will go out of themselves to serve to stake their lives for the sake of others. We are reminded that we are just in one world, hindi kan’ya-kan’yang mundo, ‘pag kan’ya-kan’yang mundo, wala tayong mapupuntahan and so being in one world as we try to share each other’s resources, help each other, share compassion reach out to others, then everybody would be happy, everybody will be saved.

In a way Pop Francis tells us during his address in the last Urbi et Orbi, COVID-19 pandemic is not a judgement from God, it’s not a punishment but an opportunity for us to consider what is lasting, what is essential, what is important and what is passing in life. And so we are force to consider what is really lasting, what is really real. Muli pinapaalala sa atin ng Panginoon, ano talaga nag nananatili, ano talaga ang mahalaga sa buhay natin. And above all, we are reminded that only God can give us true security and protection. Lahat walang exemption, Cardinal, Obispo, Pari, almost 70 of them died in Italy. Presidente, anu man yon, you can be affected of this virus, and yet we are reminded only God is our sure protection. So sana po itong ating natutunan during this quarantine period, marami tayong natutunan. The value of family, the value of coming to know each other, parents trying to know more about their children trying to enter their world because the world of the young people is quite different on what we know, and so it requires double effort a lot of patience in trying to understand our young people, and yet, it’s time to know each other. It’s a time to pray more, and when we pray that is when we express our total dependence on God. Anong sabi ni Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister ng Italy, we have done everything, lahat ginawa naming para mahinto ito, isa lamang ang kailangan pa, tumawag tayo sa itaas. That’s what we need to do, to keep our hands extending to God, asking him, heal our land, heal the world, heal our woundedness, our wounds, not just in the present but even in the past that we may continue to experience life.

Yes, there is sadness, marami sa atin ang malungkot lalo na ang nawalan ng minamahal sa buhay, and yet let us not forget another important chapter, there is joy in being united with Jesus who promise us the resurrection. Yes, mabigat ang sakripisyo and yet we learn for the master, we learn what it means to be a leader. Narinig natin sa unang pagbasa, how this suffering servant from the prophet Isaiah did not regard himself as something special though he was preaching the message of God, and yet what was the response of people? They spat on him, they persecuted him, they tried to kill him. And yet the servant which refers to Christ did not stop, did not get discouraged because he was passionate, he was determined to carry our his mission, to live the fathers love that was burning in his heart, to tell the world the great love God has for all. So nag iisip po tayo at nagdarasal, so Jesus teaches us how to find life. Hindi lamang basta tayo humihinga, nakakakain, nakakatulog, that is enough. All of us have ambition and to fulfil that mission, we have to learn how to be obedient. Tumalima, sumunod, yan ang pinapakita sa atin ng Panginoong Hesus. He became obedient unto death, kaya we notice in the lst moments of his life he would use the words, normally whe he prays he use the words Abba, Father, here in the last moments of his life, he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Has God the Father forgotten his son? No, it was an opportunity for Jesus to entrust his life and so he abandoned his whole life to the hands of the Father and he was able to say, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

So mga kapatid, ito po ang hinihingi sa atin ng taunang pagninilay natin, pagdiriwang sa mga mahal na araw, nagging mga mahal ang mga araw na ito dahil sa pag-ibig ng Diyos. Rituals, what we do, even the sacrifices that we do, they mean nothing if we do not do them with love. Christ’s crucifixion, Christ’s death on the cross became salvific because there was love. So the real symbol of love is not a heart it is the cross. Sana, mag alay po tayo ng mga ilang mga sandali sa pag-iisip, sa panalangin, sa pagninilay, titigan natin si Hesus, at marami tayong oras na maaaring maibigay sa Diyos, magnilay. Muli balikan natin yung narinig nating passion story, the story of genuine love, the story of a love that gives salvation to the world. Maraming detalye po an gating makikita sa mga characters ng passion. Nand’yan si Pedro, nangako kay Kristo na kahit saan s’ya pupunta sasamahan s’ya, pero nung nalagay na s’ya sa totoong pamumuhay, when his faith was tested, anong sinabi n’ya? “Wag n’yo ‘kong isama sa usaping yan, hindi ko naman kakilala ang taong yan.” Isang malaking tarak sa puso ng kan’yang kaibigan, ni Hesus I’m sure, to be denied by a friend. And yet, Jesus was just silent, taking everything out of love. Nand’yan ang kaibigan n’ya si Hudas, pinagbili s’ya, hinalikan pa, usually when we kiss people, it’s a sign of affection, love, [but] it’s a sign of betrayal, so we examine ourselves, our gestures, sometimes are they fake? Do you betray others, do you betray the Lord? Nand’yan yung mga alag n’ya, sabi n’ya samahan nyo naman ako sa aking mga natatanging oras, malapit na ang kan’yang kamatayan. What happened? Natulog sila, tayo kaya, madalas inaanyayahan tayo ng Panginoon, natutulog tayo, o nagtulog-tulugan, as if we do not hear, and yet every time we are with the Lord, and we [are with] him, with love, in silence, in prayer, then we experience love, joy, peace, amidst the crisis, the problems we face in life.

Sana po magbunga ng kabanalan, malalim na pakikiisa sa buhay ng Panginoon araw-araw itong ating pagdiriwang, itong panahon ng mga mahal na araw. Nagiging mahal ang mga araw na ito dahil sa pagmamahal ng Diyos. Kahit na pumapalpak tayo, naniniwala pa rin, nagtitiwala pa rin ang Diyos sa atin. Thank you Lord, give us the grace to commend our whole life, into your hands, like what you did into the Father, that we may always share your passion death and resurrection each day, Amen.

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