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Cardinal Tagle: How do we expect to be forgiven if we do not forgive?

Homily of His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal G. Tagle

Eucharistic Celebration and Blessing of the Altar

Sagrada Familia Church New Gateway Mall 2 Cubao, Quezon City

September 15, 2023

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we thank the Lord who has gathered us as one community, as one family of faith this afternoon. First, to inaugurate this beautiful chapel for divine worship, and also to celebrate the regular Sunday Mass, the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Allow me to divide my sharing with you in two parts.

First, about the significance of having a chapel; and secondly, let us dwell on the readings.

First, a chapel is regarded as a place dedicated to divine worship and holy activities. And it is right! We should remember that divine worship or sacred celebrations like sacraments, liturgies are meant to do two major things: first is to glorify God, to worship God, to adore God. So that aspect should not be forgotten. Secondly, in a holy place like this, especially during religious activities and sacraments, most especially, as we glorify God, God sanctifies us. So there is always this exchange between God and the people, i.e., His people: the body of Christ, the temple of the Spirit. So, please, when you come here or you bring people here, let us not fail to have those two things in mind: to adore God, to glorify God, and to allow God to sanctify us. This will happen!

These two important elements will happen through three pillars.

First, the Word of God. So let the Word of God be proclaimed here. Let the Word of God be taught here. Let the Bible be distributed here. Let the Word of God reign loud and clear here. But let the Word of God be received by people. Kasi kung minsan, pag Salita na nang Diyos, lalo na minsan nung nagmimisa ako, maghohomily na, umupo na yung mga tao, yung mga nasa unahan pumikit, tuwang tuwa naman ako! Sabi ko, ah magmemeditate. Naku, wala pang 3 minutes, tuloy na … Ayun! Kapag Word of God, siesta! Pag Word of God, parang oras na para matulog. And that does not sanctify us! … If we spend time sa pakikinig sa kung ano ano, panonood ng kung ano ano eh bakit hindi sa Salita ng Diyos? So, the Word of God.

Secondly, the Sacraments. Especially the Eucharist where the Lord renews us as His body through His Spirit, through His body and blood, through His word. And thirdly, through the service of charity. We hope that this chapel will also be a place where charity becomes alive as a response to God’s word, to God’s presence and to the spirit that creates us, the body of Christ. So hindi lamang po ito space.

As we dedicate this chapel to God, and God will certainly sanctify it, we should contribute to the continuing sanctification of this place.

Through our prayer, through our listening to the Word of God, through our fervent worship and through our discernment of God’s call for us to serve in charity. Kaya bago po kayo magshoshopping, dito muna! Magdasal at tanungin ang Diyos, ano ang gusto Mong pag gastos ko sa aking pera? Mukhang wala nang pupunta dito, kasi nauuna gagastos muna – pag wala nang pera, pupunta dito: “Lord, punuin Mo po ang aking bag.” Baliktarin! Magdasal muna. Mag discern.

Let us sanctify this place by our reception of the Word of God and allowing the Word of God and God’s presence to direct our choices, decisions and our actions.

Which leads me to the final point, our readings for today.

Remember last Sunday, the Gospel was about when a brother or sister has hurt you, what do you do? Call the person, just the two of you. Kayo lang, mag-usap. In order to win your brother or sister to the right path. And when the person does not listen, call somebody else as a witness. And then call the church if the person does not listen. Kung ayaw pa din makinig, well, pray.

Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, there He is. You never give up!

After that, the Gospel for today, si Pedro … sabi ni Peter, Okay okay, you explain it Lord. But really, if my body sins against me, how often must I forgive?

Pinaliwanag na ni Hesus last week, you must forgive and preserve the dignity of the person.

Wag mo ikalat agad, kayo munang dalawa. Ngayon baliktad na, alam na ng lahat yun lang tao ang hindi nakakaalam. Napag usapan na siya, siya lang ang hindi nakakaalam. Kaya makinig sa salita ng Diyos. But then Peter – just like us – we ask how many times you do this: seven times, which is already a good number, seven times biblically. But Jesus says not seven times but seventy seven times. In another translation, seventy times seven times. Which means fully and always! Not only in terms of numbers, repetition but fullness of forgiveness. This is difficult, almost impossible!

That is why Jesus gives a parable presenting how God forgives. Here we have a servant who owed his master a lot of money. According to some, he is not able to pay (so) he would spend one hundred sixty years in prison. Ganun kalaki ang kanyang pagkakautang! 160 years in prison! So parang equivalent to 160,000 of whatever their currency. But he pleaded with the master, and the master, moved with compassion, forgave everything. And gave him back his freedom. Let him go, lead a normal life, forgiving the law. That’s how magnanimous the master was. Unfortunately, the servant met a fellow servant who owed him a smaller amount, in another version parang 100 dinare (while) the other person owed 160,000 dinare which was forgiven. Ito, ang utang sa kanya 100 and the fellow servant begged him but he did not listen. The fellow servant asked for patience, be patient with me. But instead, he threw the fellow servant into prison. He forgot that he himself was a debtor! He forgot that he and the fellow servant belonged to the same category, they were both debtors. Forgetting that, he also forgot how he was treated as a debtor. He was forgiven. Nung napatawad na siya, nakalimutan nya na sya ay nakautang din. Nagmalaki na, nagmataas na kaya wala na siyang pakiramdam doon sa nagkautang sa kanya. This was reported to the master. And the master, out of anger, handed him over to the torturers. Ang sabi nung panginoon, could you not have pity on your fellow servant as I had pity on you. So the basis there is: remember how you have been forgiven, you are also a debtor. And remember how God has been patient with you. Remembering that, be patient also to those who owe you. Sometimes, we don’t want to remember that, or we are selective of our memory.

Kasi nakakahiyang alalahanin na tayo rin nagkautang at may atraso. We don’t want to remember that. But forgetting that, we become judgemental towards others, even vindictive.

In the First Reading, Sirach says, wrath are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. Kung ano yung nakakasira sa kapwa, yun ang ating kinakapitan – anger, hatred and vengeance.

But how do we expect to be forgiven if we do not forgive?

That’s part of the Lord’s prayer: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Okay, now we understand why Peter asked the question how many times should I forgive. Siguro lahat tayo ilang beses yan, not only seven times but seventy times seven times. And the first reading reminds us (that) when you are filled with anger, hatred and the thirst for revenge, remember your last days.

Remember your last days.

Will you want to die filled with anger? Do you want to die (with) your heart beaming with hatred? Is that how you want to complete your life here on earth? Remember, as St. Paul says, no one lives for oneself. No one dies for oneself. Whether we are alive or we die, we are for the Lord.

Walang sinuman ang nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang. Walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang.

And this is expressed in forgiveness towards others.

We are consecrating or blessing this chapel on this Sunday, we did not change the readings. So, we hope this chapel will also be a haven of forgiveness.

People who turn to God for forgiveness and who in return will learn how to forgive those who have offended them.

Transcribed by Russell Fleur F. Gallego

Edited by Clyde Ericson Nolasco

Photo credit: Gateway Mall

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