Homily on the occasion of the 2020 National Laity Week online opening Eucharistic celebration
Most Rev. Mylo Hubert C. Vergara, D.D., M.A., S.Th.D.
Bishop of Pasig
First of all, in behalf of the clergy, religious, and especially the laity of the Diocese of Pasig, I would like to thank the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas for choosing our diocese to host the opening celebration of National Laity Week this year. It is our great pleasure and privilege to celebrate this online Eucharistic liturgy and facilitate this morning’s prayer and refection session with you amidst the negative circumstances of this Covid-19 pandemic.
In our gospel today, after the Lord spoke of the parable of the sower, he told the crowd: “Whoever has ears to hear, ought to hear.”(Lk 8:8) Strikingly, this year’s national celebration has been dubbed with the theme: “Shema: Hear the Groaning of Mother Earth, Hear the Cry of the Poor and Hear the Call and Promise for Unity and Solidarity.” As a number of us may already know, the Hebrew word shema means “hear” which has popular reference from the Book of Deuteronomy when Moses told the Israelites: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut 6:4-9)
For the Israelites, this was the primordial law they had to observe to fulfill their part in God’s covenant with them: to show their wholehearted and deep love for God alone, not only in their words but also in their deeds. This love, which should not be taken lightly must never be forgotten, and must be drilled into their minds and hearts. For this reason, up to this day one may see a devout male Jew wearing a phylactery, a small leather box containing that written law tied around his forehead, so that he may not forget his obligation to love God with his whole heart, being and strength.
The shema for Jews is not just a law but their prayer, a prayer done morning and evening to show their assent of faith in God. As we have begun the Season of Creation which we started last September 1, join me as I end this short sharing with a shema of repentance and reparation for our sins against Mother Earth and the poor in our midst:
Panaghoy ng Kalikasan:
Panginoon, patawarin mo kami sa mga pagkakataong kami’y nagbingi-bingihan sa mga panaghoy ng kalikasan. Umiiyak ang langit dahil ang malinis na hangin na dapat hinihinga nami’y dinungisan ng maduming usok na nagmumula sa aming mga sasakyan, mga pabrika at pati na rin dulot ng “coal mining”. Nasusuka na ang dagat dahil ang dapat sana’y malinis na tubig, ngayo’y kulay putik dala ng mga tinapon naming basura na niluluwa na ng karagatan. Naubos na rin ang luha ng mga bundok at gubat dahil kinalbo na ng pagtrotroso at kaingin na naging sanhi ng matitinding baha at pagkasira ng mga bahay at buhay.
Panaghoy ng mga Dukha:
Panginoon, patawarin mo kami sa mga pagkakataong kami’y naging manhid sa panaghoy ng mga dukha na pinaka-biktima ng kasalanan namin sa kalikasaan. Marami sa kanila ang nagkasakit at namatay dahil sa polusyon ng hangin at tubig na kami ang sanhi. Maraming katutubo ang nawalan at mawawalan ng tirahan, lupain at ikabubuhay sa ngalan daw ng progreso. Ngayon nga’y nanganganib ang maraming katutubo na magiging biktima ng itatayong mga dam sa iba’t ibang bahagi n gaming bansa.
Panaghoy naming lahat:
Panginoon, ngayong Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, nangangako kaming makikiisa sa tawag ng mga kapatid naming miyembro ng iba’t ibang relihiyon at pananampalataya na magsama-sama kami sa panalangin para sa paghihilom namin at ng kalikasan. Nangangako rin kaming makikiisa sa isang mahinahon at edukadong pakikibaka para sa pagkalinga at pagmamahal sa kalikasan.
Kasama ng Mahal na Birheng Maria, at lahat ng Banal sa kalangitan, nawa’y maisakatuparan namin ang aming pagsisisi, pagtitika, pagbabagong loob at pagbabagong buhay para sa Iyo, Panginoon naming Mahal, ngayon at magpakailanman. Amen.