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To Be with Jesus is To Be in Paradise

Homily of Rev. Fr. Reginald R. Malicdem on his final Mass as Rector of the Manila Cathedral

November 20, 2022, 8:00AM | Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe


The Kingship of Jesus

My dear brothers and sisters, today the whole Church, the whole Universal Church declares and professes that Jesus is our King, that Jesus is our only King. Jesus is King because He came from a line of kings. From the human perspective, Jesus’ ancestry are full of kings. Nagmula Siya sa lahi ng mga hari. In our First Reading (2 Samuel 5:1-3) today, we heard how David was chosen to be the King of Israel; and it is from this line of David that Jesus was born. Si Jesus ay galing sa lahi ni David. Jesus is King not only because He came from the line of kings. There is something more than that. From the divine perspective, Jesus is King because He is the Son of God. St. Paul in our Second Reading today (Colossians 1:12-20) talks of Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation” All thrones, all authority, all powers, all principalities, all dominions are under Him, because He is the Son of God. So, Jesus is King not only in His humanity, that He came from the line of kings. He is truly the King, the King of kings because He is the Son of God. Even the thief, crucified with Jesus, recognizes that Jesus is King.


In our Gospel today (Luke 23:35-43), that good thief facing death said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” By saying this, he acknowledges that Jesus is King. “Alalahanin mo naman ako, kapag naghahari ka na.” Ibig sabihin, kinikilala niya si Jesus na nakapakong katabi niya bilang hari. Take note of the response of Jesus to him. Jesus did not say “Okay. I will remember you when I am already reigning in my Kingdom.” “I will bring you to my palace,” or “I will bring you to my mansion.” What was the response of Jesus? “I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus the King does not have a palace. Ang mga hari sa mundong ito, may kani-kaniyang mga palasyo. But Jesus does not live in a palace. Jesus does not live in a mansion. Jesus dwells in paradise.


Fr. Regie during his Farewell Party | Photo from Manila Cathedral Facebook page


The Paradise in Our Midst

When we talk of paradise, oftentimes we remember the paradise given by God to Adam and Eve. ‘Yun ang Paraiso. Kapag pinag-uusapan natin ang Paraiso, naiisip natin ‘yung nilikha ng Diyos para kay Adan at kay Eba. A place where there is no suffering, no pain, no labor, no sickness, and no death: paradise. Paradise is a place where everything is provided for. Sabi ng Diyos kay Adan at Eba, “Kainin n’yo ang lahat ng gusto n’yo, maliban sa bunga ng punong ito.” Hindi ka na kailangan magtrabaho, magluto para kumain. Lahat nand’yan na. Kakainin mo nalang: Paraiso. Paradise is a place of innocence, of purity, of goodness. Adam and Eve were naked but there was no malice. That is paradise. The paradise of Genesis does not compare to the paradise promised by Jesus. Because the paradise of Jesus is being with Jesus Himself. That is paradise. Like what He said to the thief “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” So, to be with Jesus, is to be in paradise.


Everywhere, and at all times that we feel the presence of Jesus, that we experience the love of God, that is paradise. Hindi na natin kailangan hintayin na mamatay, para maranasan natin ang Paraiso. Dito pa lamang sa mundo, sa ating pang-araw-araw na buhay, kapag nararamdaman natin na si Jesus ay naghahri sa atin, nasa Paraiso na tayo. Today, even here on earth we could be with Jesus in Paradise. Even in the midst of suffering and pain, even in sickness, when we feel Jesus, suffering with us, that is Paradise. Even in sadness, in depression, in loneliness, in weeping, in the loss of our loved ones, when Jesus weeps with us, that is Paradise. Even in the midst of all the problems that we face each day, even in the midst of war, injustice, if we feel the presence of Jesus, we are in Paradise. When we strive to be good and to do good always, when we strive to be holy and to follow the will of God in our lives, that is Paradise. When we fight for what is right, for what is just, for what is true in the midst of the unjust structures in society, in the midst of dishonesty and lies, when we fight for Jesus the King of truth, we are in Paradise. Kahit na may problema sa ating pamilya, kahit na paminsan-minsan may hindi pagkakasundo, kahit na minsan kinaiinisan natin ang bawat isa, magkakapatid, mag-asawa, magkamag-anak, magkakaibigan, kapag nariyan pa rin si Jesus at si Jesus ang naghahari, yan ay Paraiso. Kahit sa mundong ito na maraming kaguluhan, na maraming problema, kapag hinayaan natin si Jesus ang maghari, dito pa lamang nararanasan na natin ang Paraisong ipinangko ni Jesus.


My dear brothers and sisters, to be with Jesus is to be in Paradise. Whether that be here on earth or in heaven.


An End and A Beginning

The Solemnity of Christ the King also marks the last Sunday in the Liturgical Year, in the Liturgical Calendar. Next Sunday will be the First Sunday of Advent. Ibig sabihin, limang linggo nalang, magpapasko na. As we conclude the Liturgical Year, the Liturgical Calendar, I also conclude my mission in the Manila Cathedral as its rector. Teacher po kasi ako sa Liturgy. Kaya dapat, nakaayon sa Liturgy ang pamamaalm kong ito. The last of Sunday of the Liturgical Year.


For the past seven years of my ministry here at the Manila Cathedral, I have considered the Manila Cathedral, not only the structure, but also the community, as paradise. Hindi po dahil madali ang buhay dito, napakahirap po. Hindi po dahil mababait ang lahat ng tao, may mga pasaway din. Hindi po dahil well-behaved ang mga staff ng Manila Cathedral, sila nalang po ang bahalang humusga kung well-behave talaga sila.


Even though the Manila Cathedral was not “a perfect kingdom” it is paradise. Because in the midst of the challenges of ministry, and ministering to God’s people, I have felt the presence of Jesus. I have felt the love and concern of Jesus, not only for me, but for you, our dear brothers and sisters. So, this is paradise. As I leave the paradise, that is the Manila Cathedral, I will go to another paradise. In the busy district of Makati. Sa gitna ng kaguluhan ng business, ng traffic, ng shopping sa Makati, may Paraiso, dahil nandoon din si Jesus. God is there waiting for me. I will not bring Jesus there. Jesus is already there, and He is calling me, “Come, I will bring you the paradise.” So, I'm excited to leave this paradise in Intramuros, to go to the paradise in Makati where Jesus and Mama Mary are waiting for me.


In this Mass, we also thank God for the gift of the new priests to serve the Manila Cathedral: Msgr. Rolly dela Cruz, our new rector. Mons, kung nasaan ka man, alam ko nanonood ka ngayon. Wala pa naman po siya sa Paraiso. Nandoon lang siya sa paraiso sa New Zealand, where he is having his sabbatical [leave]. Fr. Bong Bayaras (Rev. Fr. Marion Noel Q. Bayaras), who will administer the Manila Cathedral until Monsignor Rolly returns from his well-deserved sabbatical. Fr. Kali Pietre M. Llamado will continue to be with us, to serve our Mother Church.


To Monsignor Rolly, Fr. Bong, and Fr. Kali, I hope that you will see the Manila Cathedral as paradise. Not only because of our beautiful church, but also because of our beautiful community; and we are beautiful because Jesus is here. Jesus is present in our minds. He is here in this building, our Mother Church the Manila Cathedral; but He is present all the more in our community. Whether they be here in the Manila Cathedral or those joining us online. Jesus is also inviting you to be with Him in Paradise. Sana po sa inyong paglilingkod dito sa Manila Cathedral, makita n’yo rin, katulad ng nakita ko, ang Paraiso.


My dear brothers and sisters: Jesus is our King, and as He promised the good thief, so He also promises us today, “I say to you, you will be with me in paradise.” Let us not wait for the afterlife to experience that Paradise. Let us allow Jesus to be King of our lives, of our families, of our society, of our country, and of the world, so that even here and now, we will be with Jesus in Paradise.


Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo

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