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San Bartolome Apostol Parish @410

Updated: May 21

May 17, 2024 | Thanksgiving Mass for the 410th Founding Anniversary

of Apostol San Bartolome de Malabon Parish, Malabon City, Diocese of Kalookan

Beloved People of God:

As we celebrate the 410th Founding Anniversary of our parish, we thank the Lord God for all the graces we received, through the help of the prayers of our patron, St. Bartholomew the Apostle.

Our parish reached four hundred ten years, because God loves us; and our church is a reminder to all that there is a God who loves us.

Witness to History and Grace

During the 410 years, our parish became a witness to the long history of our country. The parish faced many challenges, wars, and recently, we faced the pandemic brought by the COVID-19. 

At the same time, our parish is also a witness to many couples who received the Sacrament of Marriage and exchanged vows in front of the altar of God. At the start of their lives, many children received the Sacrament of Baptism in our Church. Many of us also continue to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass daily, every Sunday, and especially during feast days. Many sins have been forgiven in our Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance. Then, at the end of their mortal life, many of our departed brethren were brought here also to receive the Funeral Rite of Blessing, before they were laid to their final resting place.

Inside this church, many tears were dropped because of sadness and hopelessness, but the church also witnessed many tears of joy. All these tears were stored in God’s bottle, recorded in His book (cf. Ps. 56:8).

From the start of life until its end, our Church is here, the Parish of St. Bartholomew, witnessing to our history and story, and more importantly, a witness to God’s grace and mercy. Our parish is a reminder to all of us that God is with us, in our journey of life.

The Church is the Body of Christ

I would like to focus my reflection on this teaching of the Catholic Church: The Church is the Body of Christ.

Let us remember lest we forget, our parish did not reach 410 years because of our effort alone; we did not reach 410 years because of the good priests, good lay leaders, nor because of the community alone. Rather, we reached 410 years because the Apostol San Bartolome de Malabon Parish is a Church of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the Church.

This is a reminder that our life as a community should not focus on our needs and wants. Rather, we should live in a Christ-centered life, in a Christ-centered community.

Antoni Gaudí (an architect known for designing the Sagrada Família Church in Spain), once said, “To do things right, first you need love, then later on, technique.” Once you have love, technique will follow. Gaudí is like saying, because God is love, He should be first in all that we need; and when Jesus is in our hearts and minds, we can do everything, even the difficult ones. Thus, we are reminded as a parish community: let us hold on to Jesus, we should not let go of His hands. 

Archbishop Socrates “Soc” B. Villegas (Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan) also often reminds us of the words of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Give us Jesus. Only Jesus. Always Jesus.” That is our duty as members of the Church, to share Jesus always, to choose Jesus always.

Imperfect but Loved by God

However, in reality, there is no perfect community. In our parish for example, isn’t it that sometimes we get annoyed with one another? Isn’t it sometimes we get tired of one another, or have misunderstandings with the other? Many of us also ignore others, especially when we have some sort of arguments or misconceptions. Of course, we need to correct the wrong, but remember this: nobody should be left behind. As a saying goes, “Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”, and our Apostol San Bartolome de Malabon Parish community is a family.

Even if others have weaknesses and sins, do not leave the Church behind. Do not leave Jesus behind.

Let us not be deceived by intrigues, gossip, and sins. All of these come from the devil, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), the one under the feet of St. Bartholomew. Despite all of these, let us remain parts of the Church, the Body of Christ. Let us stay for Jesus and with Jesus. Our parish, even in the midst of challenges, should remain a Church of Jesus.

You know, our church is known for its structure. As you enter the church, you will immediately notice the religious symbols above. You will experience awe and amazement in seeing its beauty. However, in reality, this is not our true success indicator as a parish. Our real success indicator as a Church is our loyalty to Jesus, and our spiritual growth for Jesus.

Jesus and St. Bartholomew

If we look at the life of our Lord Jesus, He did not just spend time praying. Rather, He worshipped the Father by serving, and by offering His life for the glory of the Father. He was obedient to the Father, as manifested by His works.

If we listened to the Gospel today (Jn. 21:15-19), our life as a parish community is like what St. Peter has done. To respond and live by example our answer, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” As we face joyful moments, we say, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” In facing sad moments, we say, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” When trials and challenges come our way, may we show and live these words, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

Of course, we must imitate the life of our beloved patron, St. Bartholomew the Apostle, as a true servant of God. We know that the Lord Jesus saw St. Bartholomew under a fig tree (Jn. 1:48). According to a commentary, the Lord Jesus saw St. Bartholomew praying under a fig tree. We should be like him. May we become prayerful, especially the year 2024 has been designated a Year of Prayer by Pope Francis. Like St. Bartholomew and the Lord Jesus, may we also be known as prayerful and good persons.

May we feel the presence of God in each and every one of us; and show to the history of the whole world that our parish, Apostol San Bartolome de Malabon Parish is a Church of Jesus Christ. Let us remember that. That is our mission and conviction: that Apostol San Bartolome de Malabon Parish is a Church of Jesus Christ.

Let us thank the Lord for all the graces that we received, through the prayers of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, in the of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Originally delivered in Filipino,

Translated by Joel Ocampo

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