By Fr. Lito Jopson

CEBU CITY, Jan. 28, 2016 – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle narrated a heart warming and thought-provoking story of a sampaguita vendor in his parish who was a polio victim and whom he admitted in the Washing of the Feet during one Holy Thursday as he gave a Catechesis on the topic “The Eucharist and Dialogue with Cultures” in the 51st International Eucharistic Congress here in the Pavilion, Cebu City, Philippines..

tagle“The girl had to walk on crutches. I kissed her foot, her shriveled foot; it will be forever etched in my memory.”

The Cardinal said he finally understood what Jesus meant when Peter rejected Jesus to wash his feet.  The polio victim with her broken body found her proper place in the Church.

“She is not just a candle vendor; she has entered the community.  The wall of alienation is torn down at the Supper of the Lord.”

The 51st IEC was the third Eucharistic Congress that the Cardinal attended and gave a talk.  Now that it is held in the Philippines, he addressed the foreign delegates with a sincere thanks for bringing the warmth of their countries to the Philippines.

“Cebu has become a warmer place because of the Eucharist; this is climate change at its best.”

He tackled his topic in two parts: first is the culture and dialogue and the second is the attempt to bring the Eucharist in the center of dialogue.

On Culture and Dialogue, Cardinal Chito defined culture as the complex realities of feeling, acting, and thinking which allow all members to survive, to provide identity and give meaning to lives.

“Jesus also dealt with his own culture but he offered a new way of living, thinking, acting, and speaking,” said Cardinal Tagle.

He enumerated stories from the Scripture about Jesus’ new culture, “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.’  He allowed the sinful woman to come close to him.  He touched a person with leprosy.  He opened a new use of space.”

He proposed cultural intelligence to counter the harm comes from disconnectedness and clashes of cultures. There are three parts of cultural intelligence: how we know our culture and how it affects our priorities; and secondly, to study and know the culture of others; and third, to determine the path for the cultures to challenge and purify each other.  The result is beauty of each culture, walking towards the common good.

“The Church need cultural intelligence if it wants to dialogue … I propose that even in the seminary or training in the formation of religious life, we should be aware to develop cultural intelligence.  We have developed an ecclesiastical culture, but we don’t know how to dialogue.  Dialogue grows with discernment,” explained the Cardinal.

The second part of his talk deals with how to merge cultures and how to dialogue with cultures.  Cardinal Tagle proposed convocation and sharing to counter the situation of alienating individualism affecting persons and countries.

The Cardinal said, “The Eucharist offers an experience of convocation.  You are called with others, You are called to be with others.  And you are called to be with others in a meal that the Lord hosts; and when the Lord hosts a meal, be prepared to be surprised with the guests.”

According to the Cardinal, persons recognize a fellow sinner, a brother, a sister.

“I also see myself. I discover myself, sinful but loved, undeserving but involved, shamed but embraced, lost but found,” said the Cardinal.

“Remember how Jesus broke the isolation and culture of alienating individualism – Matthew, Zaccheus, the sinful woman, the centurion, the Syrophoenician woman, the eternal isolation of the rich man who totally ignored the poor man Lazarus.”

“If our parishes welcome the poor, persons with disabilities, and the despised find a family in our communities, then our individual gifts and talents allow to grow in our communities,” the Cardinal said.

He exhorted everyone not to throw away gifts – husbands, wives, parents, students, teachers, and politicians, religious sisters, bishops, and priests.  These are the gifts of human hands, the gifts of the earth, and the gift of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus.

“On the night Jesus was betrayed, he gave himself as a gift of love. He said, ‘No one takes my life. I lay it down on my own.’  Beware, what you throw away will come back as God’s gift to us,” warned the Cardinal.

He concluded his catechesis with the culture of gift sharing.

“This culture of gift shared will give the Eucharistic community, a credible presence of Christ in the presence of the world a reason to hope.  Christ in us, our hope of glory!” (Fr. Lito Jopson, CBCP ECSC, TV Maria)

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