Your Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines;
Your Excellencies, brother bishops;
Reverend Monsignori, Fathers, and Deacons;
Persons in Consecrated Life;
Reverend Monsignor Rolly dela Cruz, our new Manila Cathedral Rector;
Members of his family, his former parishioners and guests;
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Manila Cathedral Foundation;
Members of the Manila Cathedral community here present
as well as the members of the Manila Cathedral online community;
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
As we continue to linger in the joy of the resurrection of the Lord, we are gathered today in this historical and magnificent cathedral of Manila, the first cathedral in the Philippines, for the installation of its new Rector, Msgr. Rolly dela Cruz.
Msgr. Rolly, after six months of sabbatical leave, I welcome you back to the Archdiocese of Manila. I am sure you are now spiritually, ministerially, and probably even physically prepared to take on this new responsibility. I know you would have preferred a smaller parish where life would be simpler and quieter. But God had other plans. He brought you to the mother church of our Archdiocese and the country. Thank you very much for accepting this assignment.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank our former Rector, Fr. Regie Malicdem. We very much appreciate what you, with Fr. Kali Llamado as Vice Rector, and the staff and servants of the Manila Cathedral, have done to make our cathedral truly a mother church that gathers her children, whether physically or virtually, and nourishes their faith in God. Maraming salamat sa inyo!
Thank you also to Fr. Bong Bayaras and Fr. Kali Llamado for taking good care of the Manila Cathedral and the community for the past four months, especially during the busy days of the Christmas season and the Holy Week and Paschal Triduum. You have done a great job. Maraming salamat sa inyo!
My dear brothers and sisters, on this Easter Friday, our readings focus on two apostles of Jesus – Peter and John. In the first reading, the priests, the Sadducees, and the captain of the temple guard confront Peter and John because they keep on preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. To silence them, they have them imprisoned. But many who heard their teaching, about 5,000 men, believed in Jesus. We can say that it is a very successful mission for Peter and John.
If, in the first reading, Peter and John succeeded in their mission. In the Gospel, they do not. If, in the first reading, they had a great catch of people who, at the preaching of Peter, believed in Jesus, but in our Gospel, Peter has no catch, not even one fish. They were out all night but caught nothing. And after daybreak, Jesus, who they did not recognize, came and asked them to cast the nets again. They obeyed, and there was a huge catch. It was then that they recognized the Lord. “It is the Lord,” says the beloved disciple.
This is a simple reminder from today’s readings: nothing will happen if we rely only on ourselves. If we rely only on ourselves, even if we exert all our efforts and give our very best, all will still end up in vain. It will still be a fruitless catch. But if we are with God, if we cooperate with God’s plan, if we rely on God’s grace, and if we obey God’s will, there are no limits to what God can do for us and through us.
Let the words of the beloved disciple be ours, “It is the Lord.” All our efforts, work, mission, and ministry should always be with the Lord and for the Lord. This demands humility because there is always a temptation to exalt oneself. Instead of saying, “It is the Lord,” we say, “It is me.” “We have accomplished the task because of me. We are successful because of me. We have done many things because of me.” But to be a beloved disciple is always to recognize the Lord. In the end, it is all about the Lord, not us. It is the Lord who should be praised, not us. It is the Lord who should be honored, not us. It is the Lord who should be followed, not us. The life of a disciple is always a constant proclamation that “It is the Lord.”
Msgr. Rolly, you are assigned as Rector of the Manila Cathedral, not because you are better than the other priests, not because of your accomplishments, and not because of your capabilities and skills. You are here because it is the Lord who calls you here. And your mission here is not just to maintain this building or promote this cathedral as a center of tourism and culture. Your mission is to help our people recognize how the Lord works and is very much present in their lives. And as you serve them, may you listen to them for they will also help you see the Lord in your ministry, in your priesthood, and in your life. Let this cathedral, with the number of times that this was destroyed and yet rose again, be a constant reminder that “it is the Lord.”
I also invite the Manila Cathedral community to support and love Msgr. Rolly. With him, may you become a community that bears abundant fruits because you are faithfully working with and for the Lord.
We ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of our Risen Lord, so that like her and with her prayers, we may always have the courage and the humility to declare, “It is the Lord.” Amen. (Photo by Mio Angelo Hermoso/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)