His Excellency Most Rev. Teodoro Bacani, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Manila; Fr. Filemon Dela Cruz, OP, Prior Provincial of the Philippine Province of the Dominicans; brother priests; deacons; religious men and women; dear brothers and sisters in Christ;
In today’s gospel, our Lord Jesus foretold to his apostles that like the prophets of old, his messianic mission would include the experience of suffering. Having chosen to be a Messiah who is armed with neither riches nor power but only with truth and love, he endured betrayal and death at the hands of those who are greedy for privilege and position in society. Such was also the faith, the faith of three diocesan priests who served the Archdiocese of Manila – Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora.
On this day, one hundred fifty years ago, they were executed by the Spanish colonial regime on false charges of treason and subversion. As Apolinario Mabini puts it, slandered, they died like Christ. Like Jesus, they were framed up by their adversaries because they advocated and struggled for the values of the kingdom, love of God and love of neighbor, faith, solidarity and justice for all.
Like our Lord, they sacrificed their lives for the sake of the gospel they preached. Lubos, buhos at hubos sa pagmamahal para sa Diyos at kapwa, para sa simbahan at bansa. Because of their faith and vocation, they sought reforms in the church and eventually their martyrdom contributed to the birth of our nation.
Dear brother priests and persons in consecrated life, let Gomburza’s example of following Christ inspire us to become Maka-Diyos kaya Maka-Bayan.
Our Christian identity and indeed our priestly and religious vocation include what Pope Francis calls social charity or political charity. This virtue pertains to the willingness to give ourselves for the sake of the common good, to labor for genuine and integral development in society, to be involved in the work of building and transforming our nation as collectively affirmed in our clergy statement for today’s commemoration.
We do not say, Maka-Diyos pero Maka-Bayan because these two values are not opposed to each other. We also do not say, Maka-Diyos at Maka-Bayan because the love of country is not a mere addendum that is juxtaposed to love of God. Rather, we say, Maka-Diyos kaya Maka-Bayan because through heroism is born of holiness and true holiness issues into service for justice.
We particularly pray for our people as we choose our next leaders this coming May. We asked our fellow Filipinos to be Maka-Diyos kaya Maka-Bayan to discern their choice well and prepare leaders to embody and promote the values of the kingdom of God.
However, our prophetic mission is not just about criticizing others or preaching to others. Social transformation must begin with our own conversion. As Gomburza’s advocacy and sacrifice have shown us, social transformation is catalyzed by renewal in the church.
As priests and religious, let us more be faithful to the gospel and to our vocation. Let us be concerned about our selfish preferences. Let us sacrifice our personal conveniences. Let us be open to continuous conversion. This is why we are doing a penitential walk today for the sake of our nation and in solidarity with our suffering people. We humble ourselves and pray, in the hope that God will hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our broken land.