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With Grace Comes Responsibility


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(Homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle at the mass for the 29th anniversary of the Peaceful People Power Revolution, on February 25, 2015 at the Mary Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA Shrine.)


Isang mabiyayang araw po sa inyong lahat, lalo na po sa ating mahal na presidente, bise presidente, at iba pa pong lingcod ng bayan. Sa atin pong lahat na narito sa Dambana ni Maria ang Ina ng Kapayapaan, tayo po ay nagpapasalamat sa Diyos at gayundin patuloy na humihingi ng Kaniyang biyaya at paggabay. On this 29th anniversary of the first EDSA revolution we are filled not only with thoughts but with a lot of calling. Laging pay panawagan ang Diyos. At ang tema ng selebrasyon po ay ang panawagan sa patuloy na pagbabago at pagpapanibago.



We are in the Season of Lent and the readings we read today are the regular readings for the Wednesday in the First Week of Lent. I think they offer us valuable lessons not only for our entry into this part of Lent but also as we celebrate this 29th anniversary.   

First of all, from the first reading from the book of Jonah, it is very clear that even if God is already quite hurt by the sinfulness of human beings, the desire of God is to save rather than to destroy. We human beings can only imagine this trait of God, the trait that does not want anyone destroyed and so God sent a person such as Jonah. This is what we call the grace of the offer of salvation rather than damnation and condemnation. I think we have all experienced this grace of the offer of new life, an offer of salvation, in our personal lives and the corporate life. EDSA 1 could be such an experience, could be interpreted as such an offer of God. Instead of allowing the Filipino people to get destroyed or to destroy each other, God offers salvation, the grace. Hindi ang inyong kasiraan kundi ang inyong pagiging buo. Pero kaagapay ng bawat biyaya ay ang responsibilidad. Minsan gusting-gusto natin yung biyaya pero yung biyaya na parang magic. Pag dumating na yung biyaya, hay salamat wala na akong gagawin. Ay hindi ganoon ang biyaya. Ang biyaya ay laging responsibilidad. With grace comes tremendous responsibility and ____. Kaya ng dun sa unang pagbasa yung biyaya na iniaalay ng Diyos sa pamamagitan ni Jonah sa mga Ninevites. Kailangan tumugon sila. Kapag hindi sila tumugon, kapag hindi sila naging responsible, yung biyaya masasayang. So that is the first. Let us rejoice at the gift of grace that God gives us but let us also awaken in ourselves the sense of responsibility: what will we do with every grace or blessing that we get?

The second po.. Eto po baka may magtatanong, sino ba yung mga Ninevites, na yan? Nineveh. Baka yung iba sa inyo magkakaanak o magkakaapo gagamitin niyo pa yung pangalang Nineveh. Isang lugar po iyan, isang bayan, na nung panahon na iyon ay tinatawag na bahagi ng Northern Assyria. Pero during the time of Christ, the place of Nineveh was enemy territory. That’s why you will understand why a person like Jonah will hesitate to go to Nineveh. You will be sent to enemy territory. But later on, Jonah, the reluctant prophet was surprised because the enemy that he feared suddenly turned to God.

Let us reflect on that. Enemy. Sino baa ng kaaway niyo? Sino yung nakakatakot lapitan? Si kaaway. Baka nasa pamilya niyo baa ng kaaway, ano ho? Bakit kayo nagtatawanan? Marami yata ang may kaaway. At yun ang nakakalungkot, di ba ho? Mayroon nga akong nabasa sabi, there is war only when there is an enemy. How do you avoid war? Work for the eradication of this mentality, this atmosphere, that makes people enemies to one another. The path to peace is finding a neighbor, a brother, a sister. When I don’t see anyone anymore as an enemy, I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to wage any fight. Why would you fight a brother or a sister?

During that first glorious EDSA, wow,  the Filipinos showed the world our deep capacity to see a brother, a sister, a neighbor in every one. Probably we started on different sides of the divide thinking that at the other side was an enemy. But part of the grace of EDSA I was the capacity to transcend that and we saw only, a brother, sister Filipino. What a grace! What a responsibility! Kailan kaya mawawala ang paningin na kaaway ko ito at ang makikita ko ay kapatid. Pagkatapos ng misa pupuntahan niyo yung may utang sa inyo na matagal niyo nang sinasabi na kaaway niyo. Sasabihin niyo, hindi ka pala kaaway, kahit may utang ka, kapatid pala kita. At sasabihin sa iyo, o kapatid pala tayo di wala na yung utang. Ha ha ha… Ngumingiti tayo but wow, ano ho, how do you move from looking at someone as an enemy against whom I will wage war to seeing a neighbor, a sister, a brother, and there is no more need for war.

And the third point po, what happened to the Ninevites? What happened to them? They were supposed to be hardened of hearts. They were supposed to wait for the destruction that God had planned. They were suddenly converted. And this is the third point. The calling to conversion. Pagbabago, patuloy ang pagbabagong loob. But for the Ninevites, conversion happened when they listened and they humbly admitted, maybe the Lord is right. There is really something we need to change. And when they called for a fast, prayer with fasting, fasting as an act of repentance, an act of conquering whatever was rebellious in them, then God was pleased. God saw the Ninevites were not enemies, but his sons and daughters, and the destruction did not happen. We need to listen to God’s word. We need to be humble. We need to realize our need for God’s saving word. And when that is put into action, then salvation erupts, literally erupts before our very eyes.

So yun lang po, tatlong points, grace coming from God but demanding our responsibility; secondly the Ninevites, enemies. When will enemies look like brothers, sisters, friends, no more war? And third, conversion, listening to the word of God, humility in admitting one’s sins and have faith as people responding to God.

Bilang pagwawakas po alam po ninyo nung 1986 wala po ako dito sa Pilipinas, nagaaral po ako sa Washington, D.C. Kaya sinasabi po sa akin nung ibang tao, wala ka naman nung EDSA 1 eh. Eh wala ako dito pero doon winter iyan, nag-e-EDSA rin kami sa tapat ng White House. Kasama pa naming doon si Senator Raul Manglapus. Marami kami doon. Ginaw na ginaw pa nga kami nuon. At ang alaala ko sa EDSA 1 pagkatapos po nuon, lahat ng Pilipino talagang parang angkin mo ang mundo, kaibigan ka ng lahat, parang lahat ng tao gustong may koneksyon sa iyo at maituring kang kaibigan, kamaganak. Mayroon ngang nagpadala sa akin ng T-shirt eh, “I was there at EDSA”. Kahit winter suot ko, palakad lakad ako duon sa Washington D.C., tinitiis ang panginginig. At may mga taong nagtanong, “talaga bang nanduon ka?” Sabi ko, Yes, kasi pakiramdam ko lahat ng Pilipino nasaan man sila ay nasa EDSA. Ang EDSA ay hindi lang lugar kundi kung nasaan ka at mahal mo ang iyong bayan nasa EDSA ka. Pati nga ho sa klase, during the break yung mga professor ko nag-order pa ng wine and cheese. Sinabi sa mga kaklase ko,  baka hindi niyo alam, mayroon kayong kaklaseng Pilipino at kailangan tayong makiisa sa  kanya. Yes, what a grace but what a responsibility! We embrace the grace again and let us together embrace the responsibility. Let us all look at each other as brothers and sisters; as friends. We are all Filipinos and Filipinos have a mission to the whole world.

Let us pause and allow the beauty of this celebration in the hands of the Blessed Mother, our Lady of Peace, to enter our hearts and transform our country.