by Margaux Salcedo
homily transcription by Joel Vasquez Ocampo
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma presided over Holy Mass from the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome on Sunday, August 29, sharing that he had not held mass there since he was a student priest 38 years ago.
"It's nice to be back at the Collegio Filippino. I was here 38 years ago when I was a student priest and to come back again even at the time of COVID is a privilege," the Cebu Archbishop said after being introduced by Fr. Gregory Gaston, Rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino
GET VACCINATED IS AN ACT OF AMPING In his homily, Archbishop Palma reiterated the Pope's call for everyone to get vaccinated.
He also stressed that those who are trying to discourage vaccination should not use the pulpit as a platform. "If you want to talk about your doubt about vaccination, talk about it somewhere else, not (on) the pulpit. Because even the Holy Father mentioned about vaccination as an expression of charity," His Excellency said.
He added that getting vaccinated is an act of 'amping' or caring. "We (Cebuanos) say 'amping', which is a way of saying 'to take care'. (When COVID was at its height), we encouraged people to really wear a face mask or face shield and then the social distancing, of course, handwashing, and today, vaccination... (Because) you care for others, you care for yourself, you care for your family, you care for other people. Amping."
AMPO, AMPING, AMBIT: ANTIDOTES TO COVID The Cebu Archbishop, drawing from Cebuano language and culture, stressed three forms of Kagandahang Loob (Inner Beauty): Ampo (prayer), Amping (Caring), and Ambit (Sharing).
"Most people associate beauty with a beautiful face," he began. Then clarified, "The beauty and goodness that the Lord wants us to develop is interior. And I think a Tagalog word captures that... Kagandahang Loob."
He explained that real beauty comes from goodness that brings one to reach out to others, "to serve, share and bring joy". And the characteristics of ampo, amping, and ambit are also forms of kagandahang loob or the goodness of a person.
These, he concluded, are the antidotes to COVID:
"We are reminded of what the Holy father says, “There is the pandemic, but if we look into our hearts and we know that there is solidarity, and there is charity, this is the best antidote against the COVID.”
Read the full transcript here:
Homily of H.E. Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu
August 29, 2021 | Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pontificio Collegio Filippino, Rome
Brothers and sisters:
Today’s Gospel reading reminds us of a virtue or disposition which is necessary as followers of Jesus. It reminds us of what is authentically good or beautiful. Most people associate beauty with a beautiful face. I am a bit amused when a friend back in Cebu, knowing that coming over we take Qatar Airlines and we passed by Doha, requested us and said, “I’ll give you money. Please buy me my favourite facial lotion.” Okay, we did it because we have plenty of time.
To have a beautiful face is a blessing. Many external features please the eye and they are blessings; but today, from today’s Gospel, likewise supported by the Second Reading and the Responsorial Psalm, reminds us of what is truly essential, of the importance of real goodness or beauty, and as we put it, beauty should not be skin deep. The beauty and goodness that the Lord wants us to develop is interior; and I think our Tagalog word captures that. We pray that as the years go by, we deepen in what we call “kagandahang-loob.”
Yes, because that’s what is real beauty, real goodness, not so much what people usually notice, but the goodness that is expression of a good heart: “kagandahang-loob.” [It] springs from a realization that in the first place, we are God’s creation; and when God created man, he says “he founds it good.” Even more importantly, we develop into a more important reason: we are God’s children, and we are basically good because the Sacraments makes us, in fact, Temples of the Holy Spirit. So, because we are good, then we know that goodness diffuses itself, goodness flows into other people, goodness is not self-centered, it reaches out to the others, it is not self-serving. Kagandahang-loob means, we thank, we speak, we do good to others.
As I say this, my mind goes back home, because the day I left, was the day our parish priest in our town died. I just mentioned that because I’d like to share with you what I thought a virtue of our former parish priest: that kagandahang-loob. I will always remember, years ago, somebody from our barangay came to the parish rectory for a sick call. The husband of a teacher in our barangay was ill. When she arrived in the priest’s rectory, the secretary said, “Ay, si Father was in a distant barangay because it was a barangay fiesta, but if you just leave me the address and some kind of direction, I will just tell father when he arrives. But probably he will arrive late at night, some time in the evening.” What the person did was she left the address. They were surprised that late that evening, past supper, the priest came for the sick call. They said, “Father we can wait for tomorrow,” and the priest said, “Yeah I know you can wait but this is a sick call. Who knows what tomorrow brings.” They said, “But we know that you came from a distant barangay.” The priest said, “Yeah, I’m a little bit tired but that’s okay. I’m here.” He did the ceremony for the sacrament of the sick. We will always remember that because when he left to go back to the rectory, shortly after the person died, and the lady, the teacher was so grateful. They said, “Si Father, we know where the barangay was and he came late after the fiesta, still he went to another barangay, our barangay and at that time, is not like another block. It takes so much still forty minutes to drive." But to me, that goodness, that kagandahang-loob made him reach out. So beautiful.
My dear friends we pray for that goodness of heart, that kagandahang-loob. That in life, we think of how we can reach out, serve, share, and bring joy.
I’d like to tell you another story, and this is the end.
Sometime last year in July, Cebu was hard hit by pandemic, and so, we organized a feeding program in one area we call Mambaling. Mostly the poor people living there. Our Council of the Laity organized a feeding program in several districts. They brought food, the people from the community prepared the food, distributed it to the families, especially to the children. After the lockdown, we visited the places, just to say thank you to the volunteers, but as we visit, we brought some packs of foods, especially for the children. It touched me what one child did. Because after having distributing food, one little child came to me and said, “Monsignor, they gave me two packs. Perhaps, you can give this to another child.” I said to myself, “Very little child, how nice of him.” It makes me believe that the virtue, the kagandahang-loob is also developed and I’m sure it came from the parents, to remind the child, as well as other children, to remind the child probably of sharing. They may be poor, but, like in this case, he shared. It not for kagandahang-loob, he might have just kept that food, but he hasn’t brought it home, but said, “Ibalik ko na ang isa. You can give it to another child.”
How beautiful to witness what I have mentioned, this kagandahang-loob; and so today, as I said, even with COVID, when we think of what is real goodness, it is not so much of the external. As Jesus said in the Gospel, it is what lies in the heart. Because from the goodness of the heart, the kagandahang-loob spontaneously comes out. The goodness of what we say, the goodness of what we do, and the disposition that tends us to be community-centered.
In these pandemic times, we often repeat a reminder “ampo, amping, ambit,” (pray, to care, share).
Ampo – which is our way of telling people, “together we pray”, and we recall last year, every Wednesday there was a rosary for healing. It’s so inspiring to know, hundreds of links reaching out, praying the rosary, together we pray. Makes us aware that the goodness in us links with the goodness of other people. Together we pray, and not only for myself, you know, we pray for the frontliners, we pray for those who work in the hospital, we pray for the COVID victims. That kagandahang-loob reaching out to others.
We say “amping” which is a way of saying “to take care,” and we know what it means when the COVID was really at its (fiercest) attack, me might say. We encourage people to really wear a face mask or face shield, and then the social distancing. Of course, the handwashing, and today the vaccination. Some people, you know, they read somewhere in Facebook or whatever, you know, and they share their ideas of (how) they don’t believe (in vaccination), but I said, “That’s what you believe, don’t preach about that, the pulpit is the official teaching of the church. If you want to talk about your doubt about vaccination, talk (about) it somewhere (else), not (on) the pulpit. Because even the Holy Father mentioned about vaccination as an expression of charity. You care for others, you care for yourself, you care for your family, you care for other people.” Amping.
Then of course we say “ambit” meaning “to share.” I know when I am inspired when I hear of how we share. People sharing the produce of their farms, and sell it at a very low cost so that others can eat. I know of universities, like the Pharmacy Department of the University of San Carlos they share drums of alcohol. People you know, tailoring facemasks that they can share. Of course, food, and many others, many ways of sharing.
Ampo, amping, ambit – these too comes form the kagandahang-loob, the goodness of the person. How often we repeat, yes, we try to survive and then after that we try to revive. We are reminded of what the Holy father says, “There is the pandemic, but if we look into our hearts and we know that there is solidarity, and there is charity, this is the best antidote against the COVID.”