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Be a Concrete Sign of the Joy of the Gospel

Homily of His Eminence Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, D.D., Archbishop of Manila

of His Excellency Most Rev. Julius S. Tonel, D.D., Seventh Archbishop of Zamboanga

August 22, 2023 | Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception,

Your Eminence Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato;

Your Excellency Most Rev. Julius S. Tonel, the newly installed Archbishop of Zamboanga;

Most Rev. Moises M. Cuevas, former Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, and now Bishop-elect of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro;

My dear brother archbishops and bishops;

Rev. Msgr. Alessio Deriu, First Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature and representative of our Papal Nuncio;

Rev. Msgr. Maximo A. Campo, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga;

My dear brother priests, especially of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, and the Prelature of Ipil;

My dear deacons, dear government officials, religious men and women, Church leaders, seminarians, brothers and sisters in the Lord:

Buenos dias!

“In Spiritu Et Veritate”.

In spirit and in truth, we gather in this beautiful cathedral dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Mother of God.

In spirit and truth, we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In spirit and in truth, we join the Communion of Saints, as we break bread, and share the cup of eternal blessing.

In spirit and truth, we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy, the source and summit of all Christian life.

The Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in this magnificent cathedral of Zamboanga Hermosa; and installed today is the Most Rev. Julius Sallan Tonel, as its Metropolitan Archbishop.

As early as 1910, Saint Pope Pius X created the Diocese of Zamboanga, covering the whole island of Mindanao. Covering the whole island of Mindanao. In 1958, Zamboanga became an archdiocese.

Drawing from the wisdom of the readings on the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a week after the Solemnity of the Assumption of the same Holy Mother of God, allow me to share to you three movements in our reflection:

  • first, the Gospel of the Annunciation and the Mystery of the Incarnation;

  • second, the prophecy of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah; and

  • third, the significance of the upper room in the city of Jerusalem.

The Gospel of the Annunciation and the Mystery of the Incarnation

First, the Gospel of the Annunciation of the Lord. This is an event of global importance, according to Saint Paul VI. Mary is in prayer in the House in Nazareth. It is in Nazareth where she was raised by her beloved parents Saints Joachim and Anne. The Gospel describes the initiative of God, and the response of fiat by Mary. It is considered the Passover of the Word of God. God, who is God, enters human history in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin. How precious is the scene of the Annunciation? Immortalized by so many artists like Blessed Fra Angelico, the great Dominican painter. It is beauty at its best. The phrase I wish to impart is “Divine Initiative”. That everything comes from God. That it is God who reaches out to humanity, fallen by sin. It is God, who initiates a relationship. Yes, a covenant with the people. God has a plan for all humanity, and the plan starts with Abraham, our father in faith; and it finds its completion in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

What joy it is for us to behold once again, the event of the Incarnation today; and what a joy it is for us to have you, Bishop Joy, now Archbishop Joy, as Archbishop of Zamboanga. Archbishop Joy, always say your fiat to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Always say your fiat to Jesus, every time you encounter Him in the early morning hours in your private Chapel. Always say your fiat to Jesus, when you encounter the Presbyterium entrusted to you, when you visit parishes and towns, when you traverse the length and height of this particular church. Let your fiat create a culture of encounter in the Church of Zamboanga. For the culture of encounter, brings about the joy of the gospel. Be a concrete sign of the joy of the gospel.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis in his spiritual testament: Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad) identifies Five Signs of Holiness Today. They are:

  1. patience and perseverance rooted in Jesus,

  2. a sense of humor,

  3. boldness in mission,

  4. passion for prayer, and

  5. a strong sense of community.

Let your archdiocese bring forth Saints Next Door. Yes, holy men and women with a great love for Jesus, and His Church, and the world. Yes, that is why we are here. That our ministry may invite and form people to be saints.

Your love for the Sacred Liturgy is known for so many of us. No other than your grandniece told us last night in the testimonial banquet that even as a small child, you would rearrange the furnitures for the Mass. From the University of Santo Tomas, where you spent your seminary years, to your studies at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, San Anselmo (Pontifical Saint Anselm Athenaeum) in Rome, where the great Filipino Benedictine Father Anscar Chupungco, O.S.B. How I remember well those years when I find you and Archbishop Molloy Valles, coming home late in the evening because classes at the San Anselmo began in the afternoon ‘till the evening. I saw you tired and cold after the grueling classes in liturgy, taught in Italian. Yes, the late Father Anscar Chupungco demanded nothing but excellence from the Filipino priests in San Anselmo. You, Archbishop Joy, did very well during those years.

I am proud of the fact that so many Filipino liturgists have been formed by Father Anscar Chupungco, and are now serving in their respective dioceses and religious communities. After years in Rome, you have become a Seminary Formator at the Saint Francis Xavier College Seminary; and then as Spiritual Director and Rector of the Regional Seminary of Mindanao.

The Prophecy of the Birth of Jesus, the Messiah

Second, the prophecy of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Isaiah the prophet calls Him, “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:5b); and “the child grew in wisdom, age, and grace before God and people” (Lk. 2:52). His vision was the Kingdom of God in the here and now. Yet still to come. He taught the Kingdom of God by His words and deeds. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried, and descended to the dead, and just on the third day He rose from the dead. This is our proclamation. This is our kerygma.

For the Church today, this calls for the pastoral journey of synodality, where accompaniment is an essential ingredient. This is the way of shepherding. Archbishop Joy, remember the seven actions of the Shepherd:

  1. you feed the flock,

  2. you restore the flock,

  3. you guide the flock,

  4. you protect the flock,

  5. you shape the flock,

  6. you resource for the flock, and

  7. you empower the flock.

Build on the achievements of your predecessors, provide vision and direction in the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus. It is just twice that we build on the achievements of our dear predecessors, of happy memories. Dear brother, build on the accomplishments of your noble predecessors, from Archbishop Luis Del Rosario, SJ (1933-1966) and Lino Gonzaga (1966-1973); from Archbishop Francisco Cruces (1973-1994) and Carmelo Morelos (1994-2006); from Archbishop Romulo Valles (2006-2012) and Romulo Tolentino de la Cruz (2014-2021). They are truly grace for this particular church.

The Significance of the Upper Room in the City of Jerusalem

Third and last movement, let us go to the upper room. It is in the upper room where Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of his Paschal Mystery. After the ascension of our Lord to heaven, Peter and the Apostles, with Mary the mother of Jesus, returned to the upper room where they spent time in prayer and communal life. The event finds its completion with the sending forth of the Holy Spirit. With this event, the sending forth to the world.

Archbishop Joy, find your strength in the upper room. Your upper room is your private chapel. It is this beautiful cathedral, every church, oratory and Chapel in this noble archdiocese. Your encounter with Jesus in the upper room will set you ablaze in mission. The mission is captured by the word “dialogue”.

You know well the tripod of the church in Asia: dialogue with the poor and the young people, dialogue with religions, especially Islam, and dialogue with cultures; but the starting point, Archbishop Joy, is the encounter with Jesus. It is the encounter that will set things right; and this can be accomplished with a strong integral faith formation known as catechesis. I wish to reiterate this to you: catechesis this in context. Let this be your priority, dear brother Joy, for catechesis is what is known as the laboratory of dialogue.

The Pallium

My dear brothers and sisters: part of the right of the installation of Archbishop Joy is the imposition of the pallium. The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church. Originally peculiar to the Pope; but for many centuries, bestowed by the Holy See upon metropolitans and prelates as a symbol of their conferred jurisdictional authorities. It is a symbol of Archbishop Joy’s unity with the Holy Father who has bestowed this dignity on him, as well as with his fellow bishops, as shepherds of God's flock, and his responsibility as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the historic Archdiocese of Zamboanga, with the suffragans of the Diocese of Ipil, the Prelature of Isabela, Basilan and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo. The imposition of the pallium reminds us of the words of Saint Paul who wrote, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

Truly, our calling to serve as bishops is grounded in love: love for our Lord, love for His Church, and love for His people.

The pallium which Archbishop Joy received from the hands of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, last June 29 in Rome, and which I have placed upon his shoulders today, serves as a visible reminder of the yoke of love that we share, a yoke that unites us in service, sacrifice, and synodality. The pallium symbolizes the pastoral responsibility that Christ entrusted to His apostles.

Woven in pure wool, and placed upon the shoulders of the archbishop, it signifies the yoke of shepherding ministry. Having received Peter's confession of love and friendship, Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep” (cf. Jn. 21:15-19).

As pastors, we bear the lambs upon our shoulders, so that we can carry them home to the Lord's sheepfold. Indeed, the shoulders of the shepherd should be the privileged place for the lost, the hungry, the deserted, and the wounded. On his shoulders, the sheep in his care are very close to his ears, and to his heart. From there, they can freely whisper their grumblings and groans, voice out their sighs and cries, and reveal their desires and delights.

This is the synodal ministry of the bishop, who walks neither ahead, nor apart from the communities, but along with them, right beside them, feeling their sentiments, and understanding their experiences together on the road towards our common destiny, which is the Kingdom of God.

Lastly, I entrust you, Archbishop Joy, and the particular Church of Zamboanga, to the maternal care of the Immaculate Mother Mary of Nazareth, La Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zamboanga. May her loving gaze be upon you and the flock under your care. Amen.

Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo

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