Misa de Gracia of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
Homily by Rev. Fr. Raffy Cruz
Parish Priest, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag,
23 May 2020
Good morning everyone.
What we are doing now is called “Misa de Gracia”. Misa – Mass, the oldest name of the Mass is Eucharist and Eucharist literally means thanksgiving. Gracia – Grace, Grace is the gift of God. So, what we are doing now if thanksgiving for the gift of God. Siguro kung sasabihin natin iyan sa isang atheist (Maybe if we say that to an atheist) or somebody who does not have any faith in any God, he might react violenly “nasa gitna tayo ng COVID-19 (we are in the middle of COVID-19), a worldwide pandemic and now you’re speaking of thanksgiving to God, are you nuts?” Maaring ganyan ang kanyang reaction pero hindi nakakagulat yung reaction na iyan kas inga sabi ko siya ay isang Atheist, walang dino-diyos. Pero iba tayo, tayo ay mga taong may pananampalataya sa Diyos, tayo ay mga Kristiyano kung kaya’t para sa atin (His reaction may be so but that reaction is not surprising because as I said he is an Atheist, no god. His reaction may be that way but that reaction is not surprising because I say he is an Atheist, no god. But we are different, we are people who have faith in God, we are Christians so for us), even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic we still see so many reasons to thank God for.
I will cite just two reasons for us to thank God. One, because even in the midst of this pandemic, we realise the absolute need for God. 10 weeks na hindi tayo nakakabalik sa ating (For 10 weeks we cannot get back to our) regular Holy Mass and other Liturgical celebrations at sa 10 weeks na iyan ay naramdaman natin ang (and in these 10 weeks, we feel the) thirst and hunger for God, narealize natin “kailangang-kailangan ko talaga ang Diyos.” I know nagsisimba kayo sa TV via live streaming, okay, but then alam naman din natin na kahit nanonood ka ng Holy Mass sa TV (we realize that “I really need God.” I know you go to TV via live streaming, okay, but then we also know that you are watching Holy Mass in TV), there is a void in you, may kulang, ano iyun? Because hindi mo natatanggap ang (somethings missing, what’s that? Because you cannot accept the) Real Presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion kaya kulang. So doon mo nararamdaman “kailangang-kaialngan ko talaga ang Diyos.” (so lacking. So there you feel “I really need God.”)
Another reason for us to thank God for is even in the midst of this pandemic, we see the goodness of God manifested by the goodness of so many people. Take for example, yung mga Frontliners, yung mga Medical frontliners, yung mga Security frontliners yung mga nandiyan sa mga checkpoints. Isali niyo na rin kami na mga Spiritual frontliners, who offer our daily Masses na sana mawala na itong COVID-19, na sana yung mga namatay dahil dito ay maiwelcome ng Panginoon, na sana yung mga may sakit ay gumaling na, na sana yung mga tumutulong sa kanila ay hindi sila mahawa. (the Frontliners, the Medical frontliners, the Security frontliners, the ones at the checkpoints. Include us as Spiritual frontliners, who offer our daily Masses so that this COVID-19 may be gone, that those who died from it would be redeemed by the Lord, that those who are sick be healed, that those who help them will not be infected.)
At hindi lang iyan, alam niyo po kami na mga Spiritual frontliners niyo, mga Pari kapag tinawag kami to minister to the sick o yung tinatawag nating “Sick call” (And not only that, you know that us, your Spiritual frontliners, when Priests are called to minister to the sick or what we call “Sick call”), we must go. It’s not always safe for us, physically yes but we must go. Alam niyo po na meron kaming mga kapwa Pari who had to go self-quarantine, why? Kasi naexpose sila sa mga may COVID positive o kaya’y naexpose sila sa mga PUI. So ito ang ilan lang ng mga grupo ng frontliners pero huwag din nating kalimutan ang mga karamihan sa atin (Is it because they are exposed to COVID positive or they are exposed to PUI. So these are just a few of the frontliners but let’s not forget about most of us) who stay in their homes, hindi lalabas (doesn’t go out). That is boring, nasa bahay ka lang 24/7 pero tinitiis mo, bakit (you’re only at home 24/7 but you’re enduring it, why)? Because that is your participation in the attempts to avoid the spread of COVID-19. So you see, dito sa mga tao na may pusong ginto na ito, frontliners and all the others, dito natin makikita (to people with this heart of gold, frontliners and all the others, here we see) that there is God, the goodness in God is manifested by the goodness of these people.
Finally, my dear friends, pinag-uusapan ngayon ang “new normal” referring to the health protocols that we have to observe dahil nga dito sa pandemic (we’re talking about the “new normal” referring to the health protocols that we have to observe because of the pandemic here). I agree with the concept, with the idea, I do not find any problems with the idea. But I tell you this, that idea of new normal does not apply to our Faith, does not apply to being Christians why? Because for us Christians, the norm is always Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ does not change. That is why the letter to the Hebrews says “Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13, 8). So baka naman tayo ang nagbabago kay Kristo (So maybe we are the ones who change Christ.).
Therefore, we have to renew the norm. So pagdating sa (when it comes to) our faith instead of saying “new normal” I would say “renew the normal”. Renew the normal of being Christians. Ano po ba ang ibig sabihin ng Christian (what is the meanig of Christian)? Ang Christian, ang ibig sabihin ay (the meaning is) you are owned by Christ, you are a property of Christ and that is why you have to renew your commitment as the property of Christ.
You have to struggle with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So we, with the help of our spiritual mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, should struggle until we reach that point when we Christians can say, with St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians “it is no longer I who live but Christ who is living in me” (Gal 2, 20). Amen.