HOMILY TRANSCRIPT | Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Fiesta Mass at Santuario de San Antonio Parish in Makati, June 13, 2022, 5 pm  

Rev. Fr. Reu Galoy, our dear parish priest, my dear brother Franciscans, lay leaders of the parish, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

It gives me great joy to join you in gathering around the table of the Lord this evening on the occasion of the solemn feast of your patron, St. Anthony of Padua.  A Blessed Fiesta to all of you!

As we celebrate your parish fiesta, let us heed the invitation of Pope Francis to engage the whole Church, our parish community in the lifestyle of “synodality.”  From the time of the apostles, up to now, synodality has been the Church’s preferred style of mission and life.  And so, if the Church is to be synodal, we must be imbued with the spirit of synodality.

In the original Greek, the word synod means “together on the road.”  It comes from two Greek words: syn and hodos.  They enunciate for us our vision of greater synodality in your parish community, the Archdiocese of Manila and the universal Church.

The first word syn, which means “with” or “same,” expresses our yearning for greater fellowship, togetherness, accompaniment, and communion.   We have been created in the image of God who is community. We are never in isolation.  To be a Christian is to be always in fellowship and communion.

Our fundamental communion is with God himself.  The Gospel speaks of Jesus prohibiting the disciples from bringing anything.  It is as if the Lord tells them, God will provide – through your fellow disciples, through the people who will welcome you in their towns and homes.  Trust in God.  Do not allow these material things that create a sense of false security that can hamper a deeping of your trusting relationship with God.

Our communion with God leads us to solidarity with our brothers and sisters.  The disciples were sent two by two so that they will learn the value of communion.  It could have been more efficient to send them one by one so that the Gospel will reach more people.  But Jesus wanted to teach his disciples that they cannot do things alone.  The second reading invites us to appreciate and affirm each others’ gifts – all for the building of the Body of Christ, the Church.

As you build community in this parish, may no one think that they are struggling with difficulties by themselves, or enjoying pleasantries in isolation, or striving for Christian perfection merely by their own faculties.  In our families, parishes, organizations, and communities, we will reach out our hands and open our hearts in order to welcome and accompany those who feel alone, abandoned, or alienated.

As brothers and sisters, let us listen to each other’s expressions of prayer and faith, attend to each other’s hungry grumblings of our bodies and souls, and celebrate our gratitude and hope.

Admittedly, communion is not always easy.  Sometimes hurts, frustrations or difficulties do occur.  And these difficult experiences often come with the temptation to dismiss the value of community and synodality.  We feel some desire to just concentrate on our personal tasks and chores, thinking that this might somehow keep us faithful to our mission.  However, when we fall into the temptation of ‘going solo’, will we not only lose connection with others, but our prayer life and the work we do for the Church, our activities of charity to the poor will also lack grounding, vigor, and joy.  Our love and concern for each other more will bring God’s balm of healing and mercy for the world.

The second Greek word that forms the word “synod” is hodos, which means “road.”  It connotes journey, pilgrimage, renewal, and mission.  Pope Francis emphasizes that he desires a Church that is “out on the streets” rather than a Church that just comfortably sits, waiting in offices and institutions or confined in unhelpful structures or routines.  Pope Francis even commented once that the Church is like a bicycle: it can stand upright only when it is on the move, tumátayo lang kung umáandar.  The Church is ever on the way, ever on pilgrimage, ever on mission.   We are likewise called to live out her missionary spirit.

In the Gospel, the disciples were sent on mission.  If we stop journeying on the way, we end up standing in the way; we become stumbling blocks to the faith progress of our community, if we cower in fear or sit in idleness, instead of going on mission.  Let us allow the fire of missionary zeal to constantly burn in our hearts.  Let us let go of our rigidities, and our attachments to comforts and conventions, so that we can be available for mission.  The First Reading spells out our mission: the Good News be brought to the poor, liberty be proclaimed to captives, sight be restored to the blind, and the freedom be given to the oppressed.

A story is told about one experience of St. Anthony when he was in deep contemplation and prayer.  This is usually depicted in his images holding the child Jesus in his arms.  One day, when Anthony was praying, his confreres in the convent saw him covered by an enormous light.  His prayer experience was so deep and profound that he was able to hold in his arms the Lord Jesus.

St. Anthony teaches us an important lesson in prayer life and mission.  Prayer is not only about talking to God.  Prayer is not only about listening to Jesus.  Prayer is an experience of embracing Jesus.  Mission is also about allowing Jesus to embrace us so that the only message that we can bring to people is his love.

As we renew our commitment to communion and mission, let us embrace Jesus in prayer and let us allow Jesus to embrace us. (Screenshot from Santuario de San Jose Live Stream)

 

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