HOMILY TRANSCRIPT | Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Chrism Mass, Manila Cathedral, March 28, 2024, 7 am

Your Eminence Luis Antionio Cardinal Tagle, Pro Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization; Your Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop-emeritus of Manila; His Excellency Most Reverend Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; venerable brothers in the episcopate and dear brothers in the priesthood; seminarians and religious men and women; mga ginigiliw kong kapatid kay Kristo:

Purihin natin ang Panginoon, na tumitipon at nagsusugo sa atin bilang kanyang bayan, at humirang sa atin na mapabilang sa hanay ng mga hari, pari, at propeta. Pasalamatan din natin ang biyaya ng pagkapari na inihandog sa lahat ng Kristiyano nabinyagan at sa mga lingkod na naordinahan.

As we prepare to renew our priestly commitments on this Year of Prayer, let us take this opportunity to remember the value of prayer in our priestly lives. Allow me to share two points about priestly prayer: intimacy with God and solidarity with God’s people.

First, priestly prayer is to foster intimacy with God. In the First Reading and the Gospel, the servant of God says of himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Yes, ministry begins and finds fullfilment in our life in the Spirit, who is the very presence of God, within and among us. The indwelling of the Spirit of God in us is the grace of God’s intimacy with us, alive and dynamically present in our lives, loving us, guiding us, helping us, healing us, and sanctifying us. Ibig ng Diyos na malapit siya sa atin, malapit sa puso natin, nasa mismong kalooban natin. God wants to be intimately close to us.

But do we respond to God’s offer of intimacy? While God reveals himself to us, do we strive to listen to him attentively so that we can know him more deeply. Do we reveal our hearts to God more openly? Do we strive to encounter and engage God’s loving presence within and around us? Do we collaborate with God’s movements and invitations by discerning and obeying his will? In other words, do we pray constantly, and do we pray well?

My dear brother priests, prayer is the way of intimacy with God. For us priests, our prayer life is our love life. Kaya ang paring walang prayer life ay paring walang love life; at ang taong walang love life ay taong walang life. Ikamamatay ng pari kung hindi siya magdasal at magmahal sa Diyos. Ang paring kulang sa dasal ay paring papatay-patay: kulang sa liwanag, kulang sa lakas, at kulang sa ligaya sa paglilingkod. Sa ganitong kalagayan, matutukso ang pari na magkunwaring buhay sa pamamagitan ng paghahanap ng pagmamahal sa kung anu-anong makamundo, na hindi naman talaga nagbibigay ng totoong pagmamahal. Kaya’t sa huli, ang paring hindi nagdadasal ay nawawala at nagwawala.

God is the first and forever love of a priest, and prayer is our mode of fostering that intimate love with God. If we fail to pray, we will end up reducing our priesthood to a mere task or role. We would see God as an oppressive master or boss. The benefits and privileges that coincide with our service—we would see them as earnings and entitlements. Eventually, we would feel “burdened” and “burnt out” by our priesthood, with an underlying resentment that is expressed as an insatiable demand for compensation and perks.

Pero kung patuloy at wagas na nagdadasal ang pari, ang paglilingkod niya ay magmumula at hahantong sa lumalagong pagmamahal at pagkakaibigan sa Diyos. A priest in prayer is a priest in love, and a priest in love with God is a priest who is fully alive, buhay na buhay. His priestly ministry is borne of an ever-deepening intimacy with God, nurtured by fidelity in prayer. His ministry is not merely a task but truly a blessing from our Lord. His motivation for service is not just a sense of duty but deep gratitude for God’s mercy and love. He sees the Lord not as an overbearing boss, but as a friend who invites and empowers. He sees the benefits that coincide with ministry as gifts to be shared rather than entitlements to be possessed. Priestly prayer fosters his deep intimacy with God.

Second, priestly prayer is always in solidarity with God’s people. In the Second Reading, it is revealed that Jesus imparted the priesthood unto the people of God. The priesthood is given not primarily to individuals, but to the Church. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Therefore, a priest never prays by himself. Whenever he prays, even in solitude, he prays with God’s praying people, and for God’s praying people. Ang dasal ng pari ay laging kasama ang bayan ng Diyos, mula sa bayan ng Diyos, at alang-alang sa bayan ng Diyos. His prayer is not confined to his own issues or concerns. Nor does a priest pray with grand abstractions and other-worldly thoughts, which may be intelligent or consoling, but are actually detached from the concrete experiences and longings of the people of God. His prayer does not cut him apart from God’s people but binds him closely and deeply with them. A priest who is truly intimate with God has profound solidarity with God’s beloved people.

My dear brother priests, the oil used to anoint our hands was produced from olives that have been pressed under severe constraint and stress. This reminds us that whenever we put our hands together to pray, we bring to God the reality of pressures and oppression that this cruel world brings upon our people. We pray with the lowly and the poor who long for Good News. We pray with prisoners and captives who long for freedom. We pray with the blind who seek light. We pray with the brokenhearted who seek healing. We pray with those who mourn, begging God to grant them consolation and joy. We bring to our priestly hearts all their expressions of faith and devotion, their confessions of sins and doubts, the hungry grumblings of their bodies and souls, and the celebrations of their gratitude and hope. And we pour all these into the very heart of God who is full of mercy and love.

Ang dasal ng pari ay hindi nakukulong sa sarili o lumilipad sa matataas na pag-iisip o damdamin, kundi nakaugnay sa kapwa at nakaapak sa lupa, kung saan kumikilos ang Espiritu ng Diyos. Ang dasal ng pari ay laging magkasabay na dilat at pikit: dilat para makilatis at makita ang presensya ng Diyos sa mga karanasan ng bayan, at pikit para maharap at matanggap ang tunay na laman ng kalooban.

And because genuine prayer should not bring us into isolation and stagnation, but towards synodal spirituality, it is important for us priests to be accountable before a spiritual companion who can help us discern our spiritual experiences and encourage us to be faithful in prayer. Priestly prayer leads to concrete solidarity with God’s people.

My dear brother priests: Closeness to God and his people, this is the very mission, life, and identity of us priests. And it is faithfulness to prayer that opens us to intimacy with God and solidarity with God’s people. Let us pray without ceasing that God may sanctify our priestly hearts.

And you my dear brothers and sisters, please pray for us your priests. Umaasa kami sa mga panalangin nyo, upang kami man ay lalong mapalapit sa Diyos at tunay na makipagkaisa sa inyo.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, most prayerful mother of priests, cover us in her mantle of care, and pray for us always. Amen. (Photo by Maricar Santos/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *