S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

“Remembering the role of the youth in fulfilling Christ’s Mission of Love"

Hi! I wish to share with you the reflections I presented to a group of Youth Ministry members of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga last Feb. 20, 2010. The occasion was their annual holding of "Un Noche de Amor Junto con Cristo." I hope the reflections will also help you reflect on your role as a follower of Jesus Christ.

God bless you!



“Remembering the role of the youth in fulfilling Christ’s Mission of Love


Points for Reflection:

+ Perhaps it is better to ask ourselves “Why are we here?” “What brought us here tonight?” Probably for some of us, there are a lot of things that need to be finished, but why is it that we set those things aside for a moment and be here tonight, in this noche de amor hunto con Cristo?

+ Dear friends, taqui kita ahora porque ta cre kita na tiene pa mas importante, y este mas importante is Christ Jesus himself. You are here because you believe that being here is worth it. Being here spells your faith and perhaps your sense of meaning in life. Ta-pensa yo na bien alegre ustedes na taqui ustedes para participa el maga actividades di este noche.

+ But be reminded that it is not only you who are happy that you are here tonight. I believe Mother Church is also very happy that you are happy to be here tonight.

+ Dear sisters and brothers, we rest on the premise that you – the youth of today – are the hope and future of our fatherland. In the same manner, it is you – the young people of this generation – are the hope and the future of Mother Church. The continuation of our traditions and character (ethos) as a nation and as a Church (believers of Christ) primarily rests on you! What a tremendous task you have!

+ I will go back to this point some time during my presentation. But to deepen our reflection tonight, let me propose two things. (Jesuits, you know, are well known for their two / three point presentation or homily. So allow me to be “true to who I am” tonight.) I hope these salient points will help us realize the significance of our role as followers of Christ Jesus, particularly you, the young and energetic followers of Christ. The first point is: Christianity is a religion founded on a “Story”. The second point: Christianity is a religion based on relationship.”

+ First reflection: Christianity is a religion founded on a “Story.” And that story is no other than the story of Jesus Christ. I remember Bishop Chito Tagle giving a talk to a group of Jesuits, religious, clergy and lay people in Loyola School of Theology some time ago about the very story of Jesus… the story that spread throughout the world, and the very story that touches and influences the lives of almost one billion people up to today. Christianity continues to thrive this very moment… the memory of Jesus continues to fill the hearts of men and women… simply because people – The Christians – continue to spread the story of Jesus – the Gospel – which is the very message of Christianity. Kung sa Binisaya pa, “Radyo Baba” ang atong relihiyon. Ta-accepta kita na di aton fe, el fe na estaba pa na maga estoria y testamonia na di aton maga ninuno. The story that we accept that at one point in history, a man named Jesus Christ, came and preached the very message of salvation and love. And his followers, throughout the ages, bring with them this story to wherever they go, and in sharing that story, our faith in this Word Incarnate, this God made man, is founded.

+ How can we relate this first point to the premise previously established, that you are the hope and future of Mother Church? Simple… it is your role… your responsibility to continue to spread the story of Jesus wherever you go. It is precisely your mission… to continue the apostolic task… of keeping the memory of Jesus Christ alive and active in our world. Kaakibat ng responsibilidad na ito ay ang ating gawain na iwasan ang mga maling kuwento at ang tunay na kuwento lamang ang ipalaganap. (relate to chismis… social responsibility)

+ Having established that point brings our reflection into a deeper level. El di aton fe hinde lang estaba na estorya… mas importante, el di aton fe, is grounded on relationship. What do I mean by this dear friends?

+ If we try to watch the Christian Channels over cable TV (mga Dating Daan, Iglesia ni Kristo, 700Club, etc…), most of the testimonies given by those “converted to Christ” are based on a very personal and intimate encounter with the Divine. In the parlance of Spiriruality, we term that as Religious Experience. A life-changing, world-turning experience. An experience that will transform people and lives. Ta-uwi ustedes na maga testimonia na igual con este: “Dati po hindi ako naniniwala sa Dios. Barumbado at basagulero po ako. Inom at inom lang, sugal ng sugal, hindi ko nga inaalagaan ang aking pamilya. Ngunit isang araw, nagkasakit po ako. Sabi po ng doktor na tatlong buwan na lang po akong mabubuhay. May taning na po ako dahil sa liver cirrhosis. Sa punto pong iyon ay napadasal ako. Dios, kung totoo ka man, magparamdam ka naman sa akin. Kung tunay kang umiiral, tulungan mo naman ako... and we know the rest of the story… Noong bumalik po ako sa doktor, sabi po niya sa akin na hindi niya maipaliwanag ngunit malusog na po ang aking atay. Wala na po akong taning. Praise the Lord!” The religious experience changed the person’s life. The intimate encounter of the Divine brought about conversion.

+ Dear friends, our religion and faith do not only depend on a story. But more precisely, it is grounded on a relationship. Mas napahahalagahan ang kuwento dahil sinusuportahan po ang kuwento ng personal na karanasan. Most of us believe in God not only because we heard of him, but more importantly, we have snippets of experience and encounter of Him.

+ Maga hermano y hermana, God calls each of us into a personal relationship with Him. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus, in the Spiritual Exercises narrates that God deals with us in three manners: first, as God to a Creature… second, as Master to a Disciple… third, but more meaningful and personal, as Friend to a friend. I think this makes our faith wonderful. Our God who is intangible and incomprehensible calls us to be close to Him. He draws us closer and closer to His Being through the heart of Jesus.

+ If there is one desire that Jesus has for all of us, it is this: To be drawn to His friendship. To join Him in his endeavors and in his mission of bringing the love and forgiveness of the Father to the world.

+ As I was preparing for this reflection, I wondered how I could deepen and develop the level of thought. And in the midst of my ruminations, a song gently played in my mind. Most of you do not know that I love songs (though I do not know if songs love me), and songs draw me into prayer. Baka siguro naging Heswita ako dahil sa awit at musika. We are familiar with the Jesuit Music Ministry, the famous and recognized Fr. Hontiveros (Pananagutan), Fr. Fruto Ramirez (Si Krito ay Gunitain), Fr. Manoling Francisco (Hindi Kita Malilimutan), Fr. Arnel Aquino (Ito ang Araw), at marami pang iba. The song composed by Jesuit Fathers Bong Abad Santos & Charlie Cenzon, as I have told you, gently played in my mind. The song speaks so much of the point that we try to establish tonight. Pagkakaibigan. Jesus draws us into friendship. Jesus invites us to be close and intimate with Him… with our God. Jesus wants to be our friend.

Ang sinuman sa aki’y nananahan,

mananahan din ako sa kanya.

At kung siya’y mamunga ng masagana,

Siya sa Ama’y nagbigay ng karangalan…

Mula ngayon, kayo’y aking kaibigan,

Hinango sa dilim at kababaan.

Ang kaibiga’y mag-aalay ng sarili nyang buhay,

Walang hihigit sa yaring pag-aalay.

+ Pagkakaibigan. Sabi ni San Ignacio hindi lamang nagpaparamdam ang Dios sa atin bilang Dios at Guro, ngunit sa mas malalim na nibel, ang nibel ng pagkakaibigan. Jesus said that He calls us servants no longer since he considers us friends… A servant doesn’t know what his Master is about but a friend does (relate with friends knowing each other by gesture, voice, figure, etc…).

At kaibigan natin siya dahil ibinuwis niya ang kanyang buhay para sa atin at sa ating kaligtasan. No greater love man has but to lay down his very life for the sake of his friends!

Kung paanong mahal ako ng aking Ama,

Sa inyo’y aking ipinadarama.

Sa pag-ibig ko kayo sana ay manahan,

At bilin ko na kayo ay magmahalan.

Mula ngayon, kayo’y aking kaibigan,

Hinango sa dilim at kababaan.

Ang kaibiga’y mag-aalay ng sarili nyang buhay,

Walang hihigit sa yaring pag-aalay.

+ Yes dear friends, God chose us to be his, and to be his friends. Hindi namimili ang Dios. Kung namimili man siya, pinili niya tayo para maging kaibigan. Isn’t that a wonderful God? A God who is magnanimous not only in his love but also in his mercy and compassion. A God who chose to become one of us to precisely show us that He is near… that He is one of our kind… that he is our friend. That he loves us so much more than we can ever imagine.

+ Going back to your role. Ahhh… your role is not only to spread further the story of Jesus and to make his memory alive in our world. Your deeper role is to share this Jesus who comes to become our friend. Meaning, establish a personal relationship with Him so that you can truly share Him concretely and tangibly to others. In other words, allow him to love you… and allow yourself to love Him in return. That, I think, is the most basic meaning and definition of friendship. To be loved… and to love. Gaya ng karanasan ng Mama na ikinuwento natin kanina… he allowed God to touch his existence and to heal his body… then and only then, the relationship became more meaningful.

+ Maga hermano y hermana, numa ustedes olbida na necesita gayod na tiene kita personal na relasyon con Hesus. Then and only then can we share Him and who He is in our lives to others.

+ Easier said than done. Pero Filipinos kita. Tiene gayod kita tendency na pensa na hinde kita worthy na amor del Dios. Many times I have been approached by many people in our apostolate telling me that they don’t go to Church por que peccadores sila. Tiene pa gale ta-habla, Brother, bien gresso gayod di mio maga culpa. God cannot accept me anymore. God cannot love me anymore. (relate human experiences of expectations failed, trust broken, and love lost).

Ahh… human limitation. We tend to think the way mortals think but we forget that God thinks otherwise. Many of us will say that if we look more deeply into ourselves, we are not worthy to become Jesus’ friends. Porque? Por que igual lang di aton maga costumbre… Brother, hinde yo karapat-dapat maging kaibigan ni Hesus.

+ But dear friends remember, that when Jesus offers us friendship, he sets no boundaries and no conditions. Hinde igual kanaton. Kung quiere tu maging di mio friend, necesita gat tu…. Numero uno… numero dos… numero tres… We have conditions, and most of the time, unreasonable and out-of-this-world conditions. But Jesus? I think NONE! Jesus comes to us where ever we are. Jesus meets us where we truly are. Poreso gale manada man-back out na religious life por que ta-pensa sila na kung quiere tu man- padre, madre, o brother, necesita gat na perfecto tu. Nuay ya culpa… bien bueno gayod… numa ya ma-in love… numa ya magalit… totally wrong!!! When Jesus offers us friendship, he understands us completely. He accepts us for being us one hundred percent!

I am once again reminded by a song. A song composed by Jesuit Father Charlie Cenzon. The song Pag-Ibig Ko stresses the point that we have just established:

Hindi ka kailangan magbago,

Kahit ito’y mas ibig ko.

Hindi ka kailangang magsikap ng husto,

Upang ika’y ibigin ko.

Iniibig kita, manalig ka sana.

Ako’y kapiling mo kahit ikaw pa ma’y mapalayo.

+ Many times we think that in friendship we look for and do every effort to make the friendship work. But in Divine Friendship, Jesus looks for us. Even if we, most of the time, hide in our self-absorption and pride. Jesus searches for us and never gives up on us, no matter what… no matter why… no matter how! Kahit na sa pakiwari natin tayo ay malayo sa kanya, patuloy nya tayong hinahanap at iniirog para bumalik sa kanya.

Kalian magwawakas ang ‘yong pagtatago?

Ako’y naghihintay sa ‘yo.

Lumapit ka lamang, ang puso ko’y hagkan.

Pag-ibig ko’y walang hanggan.

Iniibig kita, manalig ka sana.

Ako’y kapiling mo kahit ikaw pa ma’y mapalayo.

+ Dear Friends, this is the kind of God that we have. A God who constantly loves us even if we are most unlovable. A God who continues to search for us even if at times we refuse to be found. A God who perpetually considers us His friends even if most of the time we don’t act like one.

+ Your role? Ahh… to witness to this kind of God who is the “real friend” in the strictest meaning of the word. To bring this kind of understanding of God to others.

+ But the question is:

  • What “story” of Jesus do I bring with me?
  • What kind of a relationship do I have with Jesus?
  • How do I see Jesus as my “Friend?”


+ What is the message of the music video? Having seen the music video, how do I answer these questions?

  • What “story” of Jesus do I bring with me?
  • What kind of a relationship do I have with Jesus?
  • How do I see Jesus as my “Friend?”

+ Maga hermano y hemana del Cristo, the Church needs you. The priests and religious cannot do it alone. They cannot fulfill it by themselves. We need you!

+ We need you to:

  1. Continue to spread the “Story” of Jesus to the world;
  2. Share your personal relationship with Jesus as friend to others; and
  3. Witness to this Jesus who is the “Real Friend”

+ Ultimately, I rest my case. Remember those three points as the role of the youth (your role!) in fulfilling Christ’s Mission of Love.

Muchisimas Gracias y Buenas Noches con todo con ustedes!

Vaya con Dios!


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