SACRED LIPS, SACRED HANDS AND SACRED FEET
Homily of Most Rev. Mylo Hubert C. Vergara, D.D., Bishop of Pasig, Diaconal Ordination of Cl. Albert O. Garong, SSP and Cl. Eric Mark S. Salamat, SSP, Sanctuary of St. Paul the Apostle, San Antonio Village, Makati City, Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord, April 1, 2018
The Very Rev. Fr. Jose Aripio, Provincial Superior of the Paulines in the Philippines and Macau, Rev. Fr. Raymond Ferraris, the Director of Formation, the Rev. Fathers and Brothers present, the Reverend Deacons, the Religious Sisters, the seminarians, Albert and Eric Mark, our dear ordinandi, the parents and relatives present of those to be ordained, brothers and sisters in the Risen Lord. Happy Easter po sa inyong lahat!
As we celebrate the Eucharist this afternoon, I would like to highlight a special context for both Albert and Eric. I am sure that you will definitely remember your ordination day. Not because it is April 1 and it is April fools day (valid naman siguro itong ordination natin), but because, first, it is Easter Sunday, of course, a blessed day for all of us Christians; and second, because it is done within this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. Later on, these events provide memories to make you grateful to the Lord who has chosen you to serve him and the Church we love.
Allow me to use three images culled from our readings today that will hopefully motivate you to use three parts of your body as ordained ministers of God: Your Lips, You Hands and Your Feet.
Our first two readings obviously tell us how Jesus blessed his apostles to use their lips to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter used his lips to speak about the life of Jesus. He spoke in summary form what took place in the life of Jesus: from the time of John the Baptist who preached about him, to the time of his public ministry, to moments of his paschal mystery, even up to the time he commissioned him and the other apostles to testify and preach on what they saw and heard (cf. Acts 10: 34-43). In our second reading, Paul used his lips to tell the Corinthians to put their faith in Christ, the paschal lamb, so that they can celebrate life of conversion “not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:8)
Albert and Eric, today, you will receive the gift of holy lips, the gift to kiss to Book of the Gospels, the gift to preach like what Saints Peter and Paul and the other apostles received. Use your lips to proclaim Jesus and not yourself. Use your lips to preach the Good News well. Huwag kayong tumulad sa ibang diyakono, pari at obispo na pag nag-hohomily eh hirap ng mak-take-off, eh di pa maka-landing! Use you lips to substantially preach on God’s word, not to entertain with jokes and songs, but use them to touch hearts and prick consciences that will lead them to hopefully experience what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus when he fell to the ground and realized that its was Jesus who he was persecuting. Hopefully, if you make you preaching well in the mind and heart of Christ, you we will be bestowed with a golden mouth like that of St. John Chrysostom.
In our responsorial psalm, with the psalmist, we sung with rejoicing and gladness that this is the day that the Lord has made because “The right hand of the Lord has struck with power, the right had of the Lord is exalted.”(Ps 118:16) The wounded hands of Jesus nailed on the cross was healed, brought back to life and raised by the mighty and powerful hands of his Father in heaven.
Albert and Eric, today, you will be blessed with hands to bless people, places and objects. Use your hands to hold the bible and other books so that you can read and reflect on them to bless people with sound teaching coming from God and the Church. Use your hands to pray over and bless people who seek your intercession, especially the elderly and the sick to lift up their helpless, weary body and spirit. Use your hands not just to receive but most of all to give. As you minister with your hands, you will experience the generosity of people giving money and many material things to you, most of which you don’t really need. So use your hands to give the gifts you have received to the poor in your midst, to those suffering due to poverty. Huwag gamitin ang kamay para kumabig. Maging bukas-palad. After all, you know your vow of poverty. And most of all, use your hands to pray daily. Use them to get your rosary from your pocket and pray with Mary for the your sanctification and the conversion of sinners. Clasp them reverently when you pray before the Blessed Sacrament to draw strength from the Eucharistic Lord, to discern God’s will for you in your ministry. With your prayerful clasped hands which I will hold, you will vow obedience to the bishop and your superiors. So when you open your hands you become a blessing and not a curse to God and the Church.
In our gospel reading, the disciples of Jesus used their feet and ran, realizing that the tomb was empty, Mary of Magdala ran to Peter and to the disciple whom Jesus loved and told them that she saw that the stone was removed from the tomb of Jesus. Upon hearing the news, Peter and the disciple ran to see a tomb with no body and only burial cloths in it. They all used their feet to eagerly witness an empty tomb which hinted that the Lord is truly risen.
Albert and Eric, when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles, he ordained them to use their feet for service. Use your feet and run to serve the people entrusted to your care. Use your feet in haste and run to wherever you are called to go: be it assisting in a Eucharistic celebration, a house blessing, giving a retreat or recollection, or doing your Pauline apostolate. Use your feet and run to reach out to the un-churched and to the poorest of the poor. But do not run away from difficulties. Do not follow the apostles who ran away and hid when Jesus underwent his paschal mystery. Alam naman natin na hindi madali ang buhay nang sinumang inordenahan sa pagiging diyakono, pari at obispo. Ang buhay natin ay sakripisyo. Kaya dapat makita sa ating buhay ang nagsasakripisyo katulad ni Kristo. Huwag kailanman tatakas sa hirap. Huwag din gagamitin ang paa para magpasarap at magkasala. You know your vow to live a chaste and celibate life. So do not use your feet to run and go to people and places that will lead you to sin. Your feet have been washed and made sacred by the Lord. Keep it that way and be faithful to him.
Albert and Eric, today, on Easter Sunday, you will be blessed by the Lord with sacred lips, sacred hands and sacred feet to serve Jesus whose sacred lips, sacred hands and sacred feet continue to touch lives. Live a life of sacred diakonia. Use your lips, hands and feet to live a life of sacred service to God and the Church. Amen.