I greet all of you a Happy Fiesta!
It is such a great joy for me to celebrate the Solemnity of the patron saints of the parish with you this morning. Today, the Solemn Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul, and tomorrow the Feast of the Virgen de la Rosa de Makati, the Patroness of Makati.
I am told that the images of Saints Peter and Paul are old images that evoke so many memories of old Makati, when a good number of senior Makatizens were witnesses to the traditions of the Poblacion. With much veneration, I behold once again the image of the Virgen de la Rosa de Makati, the image that was canonically crowned by then Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, on behalf of Pope Francis in the presence of so many of you. I was told that it was Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales who placed the rose on the hands of the image, and Cardinal Chito Tagle who crowned the Niño Jesus.
I am filled with wonder that the Church of Saints Peter and Paul has stood tall this many years, not decades, but for centuries of abiding grace. This is a testament to the living faith of the parishioners: past and present. As the Jesuit Fathers built the church in 1620, with the support of Don Pedro de Brito and Doña Ana de Herrera, so you continue building the church as parishioners of the 21st Century.
Sampiro in Synodality
The theme of the Fiesta is “Sampiro in Synodality; Here Comes Everybody”. This is a catchy theme, with meaning and challenges. Synodality is a new word in the vocabulary of the Church. While its meaning goes back to the early Church, its truth and challenge are what we the Church in the 21st Century are called to live. Fundamentally, synodality is about journeying together. It has three important pillars: communion, participation, and mission.
Communion is what Church life is all about. Being one in the midst of diversity and differences, respecting one another in love, reflecting the life of the Blessed Trinity. Participation is our engagement in the life of the Church in the world. With our gifts and talents, we hope to bring about the fulfillment of God’s plan for the world: to restore all things in Christ. Mission is the nature of the Church, and the mission of the church is the New Evangelization; and the heart of mission is that all of us are called to encounter Jesus Christ.
“Here comes everybody.” This is the truth of our Catholic identity. This statement speaks of the talents of synodality. That no one is left behind. That we journey together as brothers and sisters in our common faith. Yes, in our common humanity. No one is left behind. We walk together, we listen to each other's stories, we discern the way of God for us, and yes, we act together as a Church.
These are the ingredients of synodality according to Pope Francis: encounter with Jesus, listening to Jesus, to one another, and the rest of humanity, especially the people in the peripheries—mga kapatid sa laylayan, and discerning the will of God in these experiences.
For the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Poblacion, Makati, you have as companions, your three patrons: Peter, Paul, and yes, Mary. This is a powerful team: Peter Paul and Mary. Sounds like a singing group during my time. But seriously now, Peter Paul and Mary are your companions. The two great apostles Peter and Paul, and the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary are your companions in the journey.
Who were Peter and Paul? I find a description of the late Rev. Fr. Herman Mueller, SVD helpful. Simon was called “Peter” the “rock” on which the church is built. Vocation directors often say that Simon Peter would have never passed this psychological exam for entry into the group of Twelve, the 12 Apostles. Peter was a man of dangerous rashness: overt pride, lack of emotional stability, but the Lord looked deeper and saw what was in Peter’s heart. As a Galilean, he was prone to quarreling, quick temper, and yet he was chivalrous. Compared to other disciples, he was not very educated; but he had common sense. He was the head of a small fishing group that made him a partner with James and John. Peter was sanguine by temperament; and thus, he was usually in a good mood, friendly, a good public relations man who could easily mix with different people. He was the spokesman of the Twelve. While Peter denied Jesus three times, it was Peter who rushed to the tomb after the proclamation of Mary Magdalene that Christ was risen (John 20:3). He presided at the selection of Matthias (Acts 1:15-26), the one who took the place of Judas who betrayed Jesus. In other words, Peter takes center stage after the Pentecost experience. His conversion was gradual. He grew into being a disciple, and yes, into being an apostle of Jesus.
Saul, on the other hand, became Paul of Tarsus. He was the best educated of the apostles. He was the bridge builder between the Jews and the followers of Jesus, who eventually became known as Christians in Antioch. He received the best education from no less than Gamaliel, and that’s trained as a rabbi, meaning scholar or teacher. Steep in the Jewish and Greek traditions, he was very well prepared for the mission entrusted to him. Paul became an apostle by pure grace. While one can point to the Road of Damascus as a bolt of lightning that changed his course from spreading Judaism to proclaiming Jesus, Paul slowly grew in his life as an apostle. He embarked on three major missionary journeys, which spent twelve years. His letters comprise half of the New Testament. He was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit in his writings.
Flawed and Weak but Chosen
There are other things that we know about Saint Peter and Saint Paul. They were both flawed men, whose names were changed “Simon” to “Peter”, “Saul” to “Paul”. Saint Peter was a weak man. “Depart from me, for a sinful man oh Lord,” (Lk. 5:8). Remember also that he denied knowing Jesus three times. Saint Paul was a hot head, an impetuous man. He said, “I persecuted the Church of Christ” (Cf. Acts 22:4). Both Peter and Paul were someone to go beyond their weaknesses. Peter became the rock on which the church would rest. Paul was summoned to go beyond his fervor as persecutor to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.
G. K. Chesterton was right in saying the following, “All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”
Men of Synodality
Truly one can say that our patrons: Saints Peter and Paul were men of synodality. They walk with the Church. They were the pioneers of the Church on the move, of the Church in mission. I present Saints Peter and Paul, and yes, the Blessed Mother, a sure companion in your synodal journey as a parish in the Archdiocese of Manila; and as you journey, let your life be centered on Jesus Christ. That your life as a parish may find meaning only when you relate everything to Jesus Christ.
Remember the words of Saint Peter in John 21, “You know that I love you”. It is the love for Jesus that will pull you through the events of your daily life. The lifeblood of the parish is Jesus alone, and will always be Jesus, always Jesus. Remember the words of Saint Paul from his letter to the Galatians, “The life I live now is not my own. Christ is living in me. I still live my human life but it is a life of faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Guide on the Parish’s Journey
“Sampiro in Synodality; Here Comes Everybody”. Let the theme of the fiesta be your guide as you continue the work of the New Evangelization. Journey together in the life of the parish, in particular, the work of catechesis in the different public schools in the parish. Journey together in the service of the poor, in particular the feeding program for our brothers and sisters affected by the pandemic. Journey together as you continue the community pantry, sharing your talents and treasures to others, beyond the confines of the family. Journey together as a parish family, helping one another through the BECs, the organizations and ministries, and the Hermanidad. Let the Eucharist be truly the source and summit of your Christian life through your daily Masses, Sunday Masses, and yes, the Holy Hour before the most Blessed Sacrament.
I greet in a special way, St. Paul College of Makati, as it celebrates its 80th foundation anniversary. I thank the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC), for your steady and continuous support of the parish through Catholic education.
Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church, Poblacion, Makati: continue your synodal journey among the many parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila; and let your journey be focused on Jesus. Jesus alone, always Jesus. Amen.
Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo