Conference Synthesis by Cardinal Tagle
By: Archdiocesan Office of Communications

By: Archdiocesan Office of Communications

Synthesis delivered by His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, during the last day of the Fifth Philippine Conference on New Evangelization held at the University of Santo Tomas – July 22, 2018

Parang there is no need with a synthesis ano? With this family present among us, but I have to fulfill my task, kailangang sumunod ako sa OPNE (Office of the Promotion of New Evangelization) Office. Sabi nila, “Kardinal, magbigay ka ng synthesis.” “Opo.” (Laughter) So this is the fifth edition of PCNE and every year we try to follow a theme that is given to us by the universal church or by the church in the Philippines. Naalaala nyo yung Year of Mercy? This year in the Philippines as part of our preparation for the 500 Anniversary of the arrival of Christianity, the Bishops declared this year to be dedicated to a reflection on the role the ministry of the ordained and of consecrated people. The focus of the year is really servant leadership, but for PCNE, for our purposes, we maintained the theme of our servant leadership but, we went to another biblical passage. Kasi the CBCP focused on the washing of the feet, while that stunts, hindi naman malalampasan yung paghuhugas ng paa, but we look for another image, since the bible specially the gospels are full, are full of this images of servant leadership. And according to our program, ito po, program book, if you look at page 5, we chose Mark 6: 30-44 and it’s a parallel in John 6: 1-14. Kaya po ang napili nating theme was, “Moved with Compassion… Feed the Multitude.” And for the synthesis, kasi baka abutin tayo ng five days dito kung uulitin ko lahat, e mahirap na ho yon, hindi na synthesis yon…

I was trying to find the way to bring together the different themes and topics, and I thought, why not go back to the biblical text, Mark 6: 30-44 and John 6: 1-14. But I would like to point on one detail, yung Mark 6: 30-44, was preceded by the sending of the Apostles. They were sent by Jesus, two by two, and they were told to proclaim the good news, they were given authority to expel demons, to cure the sick, but they should not bring money, they should not bring an extra tunic, ano ho? Wala. Kasi tayo po minsan, nadala na lahat. Ang nakalimutan ‘yung gospel. When Jesus sent someone, you are sent to bring the good news. The Evangelion. And to evangelize, evangelization means bringing good news. E tayong mga Pilipino kapag magpi-picnic dala na lahat. Biscuit, tubig, fried chicken, kanin, balut, tabo… lahat. Dala-dala ba ang ang ebanghelyo? That’s why Jesus is reminding them, “Please, don’t allow yourselves to be distracted. Bring what is necessary.” And you should be vulnerable because the gospel that you are proclaiming is the kingship of God. So show by your vulnerability that you are first to believe that God cares… that you can depend on God. So it’s not just the message but also the lifestyle. And if Icnnot talk anymore about the message as in some parts of the world, your lifestyle, your person will be the good news that God reigns. Doon nagsimula e. They were sent and then they came back to Jesus. Jesus summoned them. Gano’n lang naman e, Jesus sends and we come back to Jesus. You come back to the one who sends you. Kaya delikado ‘yung hindi pinapadala. Kanino ka babalik? If you are not sent, to whom will you go back? Hay, kapatid nating mga pari, mga religious, minsan hindi naman tayo pinadadala e. Tayo ang namimili kung saan pupunta, kaya walang mabalikan. You will return only to the one that has sent you. Peace… (laughter) Now, this passage in St. Mark was the return of the apostles to the one who had sent them, Jesus. And they told Him what had happened on their mission and what they had thought. They presented to Jesus the content of their teaching and also the activities and results. Their Jesus saw calm and rest. Look at the compassionate Jesus – calm and rest awhile. But the people got to that faraway place before the disciples in the end their only rest was in the boat going to the place. Jesus saw them like a sheep without a shepherd, and He was moved with compassion. And then you know the rest of the story. Jesus asking them, well, give them something to eat. It is quiet similar in the version of St. John. Except that in St. John, it was Jesus’ mission, not the mission of the twelve. He was the one who engage in the mission. Siya ‘yung nagturo, siya ‘yung nangral., siya ‘yung naggawa ng milagro, pero walang naniwala sa kanya. Kaya hindi lang ‘yung mga apostoles ‘yung pagod. Si Jesus mismo pagod na pagod. And then, people followed at gano’n na naman ang nangyari. Jesus was moved with compassion and asked the disciples about feeding the multitude. Naaalaala niyo na ‘yung gospel passages. Do I need to read pa the whole text? Naalaala niyo na naman e. Ayan, o. Kayo diyan, naaalaala ninyo?

Now linking it to what has happened these past few days, I would like to highlight a few things. The first point for our synthesis: Jesus saw the needs of His disciples and they saw the needs of the crowds. Sa mga heart to heart talk, doon sa listening heart, doon sa ating mga sharing, doon po sa ating mga workshops, we were brought, our eyes were opened, our hearts were opened to the many needs of our world today. The needs of the people in Marawi , the needs of the families in Payastas, the needs of the youth, the needs of the parishes, the needs of the drug dependents. Our talks, our sharing, our storytelling, our workshops were a way of making us see… making us see the needs – the way Jesus saw the needs of his disciples and the disciples saw the needs of the world. Pero ito, after seeing the needs, the calling to respond. And Jesus challenged the disciples, in both cases in Mark and John, He challenged them, “Why don’t you give them something to eat?” In St. John, he asked Philip, “Where can we buy food for this crowd?” Hay nako Hesus! He was asking the humanly impossible. And he knew it, ha! Itong si Jesus talaga? Alam naman niya e… Alam naman niya… He knew, and that’s why the objection of the disciples was logical. It came from the some sort of unbelief na… Haaayy Hesus, hello? Talaga bang iyan ang sinasabi mo? Pakainin namin? Kung ako sasabihan ngayon, “bigyan mo ng hapunan lahat ng um-attend ng PCNE.” (Applause… laughter) Sasabihin ko, “Jesus pauwiin na hangga’t maaga. Pauwiin! Let them go home before sundown.” I understand. I won’t judge. Kaya ‘yung iba sa inyo na very harsh on the twelve, please! Ilagay niyo ‘yung sarili ninyo sa kanila. Kasi minsan tayo kung mag-ano, the twelve callus of heart! Mga gan’yan. No! How do you feed five thousand? And then Jesus of course knew that you needed two hundred days wages to buy food. He knew that they had nothing. And that was part of evangelization. Two days wages worth of food would not even be enough. That was their conclusion. But then Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” And then in St. John’s gospel Andrew said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves.” So there are five loaves, two fish, at tama ‘yung tanong nila, what good will that bring?

Now how is this part of the new evangelization? I think Jesus exposes the disciples to the needs and challenges them to respond to the needs knowing that they cannot do it. He wants them to feel and experience the helplessness of being able to provide what is needed. Even with the impulse, the desire, to respond, you feel helpless. “How? How could I?” Yes, goodwill is there. But humanly speaking, I have to admit the impossibility of being able to satisfy the needs of others. And this sense of helplessness is punctuated by an attitude that is calculating and practical. Biruin mo ‘yung mga apostoles nakapag-calculate na agad. Dalawang daang araw na suweldo. E ilang buwan iyon ha? Ilang buwan na suweldo ‘yon? Kapag nag-calculate ka imposible talaga. Imposible. Kulang talaga, ‘no? Two hundred days. Ilang days ba sa isang buwan? Thirty. So, ilang buwan ‘yon? Almost seven months, ‘no? Seven months na suweldo para ipakain dito sa mga tao. So and then you start calculating. You start accounting and, naku talaga… imposible. What happens to some people before the helplessness of the situation? Some are paralyzed. They don’t feel compassion anymore. “Wala rin naman akong magagawa, ‘wag na lang.” So try to distract yourself from being compassionate. Don’t allow yourself to be affected, “anyway wala naman akong magagawa.” ‘Yung iba naman nagiging messianic. “Kaya natin ‘yan! Kaya ko ‘yan!” So it is not anymore compassion, it is messianism. ‘Yung iba, nawalan ng compassion, hindi na kikilos. ‘Yung iba, nawalan ng compassion, ‘yumabang. Kung hindi kaya ni Hesus, “Kaya ko. Bigay niyo sa akin ‘yan, aayos ‘yan. Kaya ko ‘yan.” That’s not compassion. And people who are needy are doubly victimized by false messiahs who lack compassion and whose only dream is to promote themselves and their agenda. And the needy are used for their personal projects. Kaya tama si Hesus e.

I think part of our PCNE 5 as a marvel the work of the Holy Spirit; as we marvel all our sharing I hope we also feel with humility the human helplessness. The helplessness needed to be compassionate. When we experience being helpless, we can approach the needy and the helpless not from a position of superiority but of real compassion. Very often, we come to the needy from a posture of superiority. Kaya minsan pinadarama sa atin ng Diyos ‘yung sarili din nating kahinaan at helplessness para tunay ang compassion. That’s why this PCNE 5 was given with a gift of tears. Ito ‘yung PCNE na parang ang dami kong naiiyak kaysa sa nainom. Parang nade-dehydrate na ako e. Pero it was not tears of pity. I was almost always crying for myself, for my own incapacity to be a problem solver. And maybe we need to cry more. Cry, face with our own helplessness then we understand the tears of those who suffer. And we come to them as brothers and sisters, not providing solutions, easy solutions, because their situations are not really problems but dilemmas. For problems, there are solutions but dilemmas you don’t have a solution. For problems you propose solutions. To dilemmas you tell stories. Stories of people who have been I that situation. You have good smile like CJ. Could sing like their families. It is not a solution, it is life stronger than pain.

Pwedeng malaman kung sino dito ang may asawa? Ayan. (Some audiences raise their hands) Ano ang tingin niyo sa asawa niyo? Problem o dilemma? (Laughter) O sa mga religious dito? Anong tingin ninyo sa iyong mga provincial? Problem or dilemma? A dilemma is a problem that does not disappear and so there is no solution. Mga pari anong tingin ninyo sa inyong mga obispo? (Laughter) But, siguro ano ho, kasi tayo ewan ko ba, especially to our brother priests and to our brothers and sisters in consecrated life, I don’t know why our mode of approaching needy people is problem solving. Sometimes, people only want to talk with us and we propose so many solutions. I don’t know why we have that idea of ourselves, concept of ourselves – problem solving. And we do not want to admit that we are as helpless as the people who come to us. Sometimes gusto lang naman nila na may makinig. Sometimes, ang gusto lang naman nila mayroong kaiyakan. I think Jesus really ask the impossible from the disciples to make them feel helpless. Helpless, for people who are always successful might lose compassion.

I was telling Bro. Andrei as when I was a doctoral student in the States when I was finishing my thesis. I thought I better do volunteer work kasi baka my studies would… parang take me out of yung situations of peoples… mga speculative theology… and then I won’t have anymore ‘yung contact and compassion. So I volunteered in a hostel administered by the missionaries of charity of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And then in that hostel they welcome homeless people… ‘yung mga may sakit with no families to take care of them, and also HIV/AIDS patients who were dying. Kaya kanina when the Holy Spirit sister, nandito pa ba siya? Sister when you were telling your story, yeah, I knew. Ilang beses din akong napagalitan ng mga madre for things I did wrong. It was a year that would be, parang, unforgettable for me. And I remember the first person that I was asked to take care of. He was close to death, and he was much taller than I was. Hindi na siya maka-move so I had to do everything for him. And that day he had Diarrhea. Kaya the whole day wala na akong ginawa kung hindi to clean him, change his diaper… tatlong araw akong hindi makakain. And I was tempted to call the mother superior to tell her that, “I’m busy with my writing. May I’d be excused?” But then there was a change. It was not just work. They are not just patients. They became persons. Not just individuals, but persons. And I felt becoming a person too related to them. One day, one of them was really close to death. And according to the sisters, “Prepare them to meet the Lord.” So I gave the person who has probably his last sponge bath, I change the pillowcase, change the linen, and I prepared a small vase of flowers beside his bed, and there was a set of prayers that I said aloud. In between the prayers I would read from the Bible, and I would give him reflections coming from my theological training. Scatology, the last things, death, Hell, Heaven, Purgatory, all of those… but the longer I talk the more ridiculous I sounded to myself. And I told to myself, “Chito, tumahimik ka na ha.” Parang I was not making sense even to myself. Why? I thought I was doing it out of compassion but I was coming from a position of strength. And God sent someone. God sent another HIV/AIDS patient who came into the room into a walker and stood at the feet of the bed of Richard – the name of the dying person. This man said, “Richard, you will meet Jesus soon. Tell Jesus how much we love Him. And we love you too, Richard. Goodbye.” Then he left the room. I cried and cried for myself. I said, “where is my compassion?” But that patient, not pretending to be any stronger than Richard, maybe struggling from his own coming death, gave the most beautiful message. Before mourning for Richard, I mourned for myself. And I want to believe it was a preparation for mission – to feel one’s own helplessness so that we could really be one with helpless.

The second point po for the synthesis so we see the needs, we see the magnitude of the problems; we see the magnitude of the dilemmas; we see the magnitude of the neediness, ‘no po? But we also see the scarcity of materials, of resources – five loaves, two fish, scarcity of our human resources. Some of the dioceses, some of the religious orders sasabihin kulang na kami. The average age sa community 89. Don’t laugh ah! I was able to visit a community in Northern Italy. The youngest member was 89 years old. And so during their last chapter they decided they will not accept candidates anymore. They would allow their congregation to, ano na, to die a happy death. When I visited them there were only three living members of the congregation. Sabi nila, “God raised us as a community to respond to particular need or a particular tyime, maybe God will raise up other communities. It doesn’t have to be us.” Napaka ano ho, napaka free. Now we can see that the magnitude of needs, and the scarcity of materials and then we are helpless. According to the two biblical texts, that’s where Jesus enters. Jesus tells them, “tell the people to sit down in groups.” Jesus would not accept it, “ano lang e wala na tayong pera e. O limang tinapay lang e.” No, Jesus says, “let us prepare a party! Let us prepare a banquet. Group them! Group them into fifty’s, hundreds,” and so it was a preparation for a banquet. He will host the banquet. It is not the disciples, it is Jesus who will host the banquet. He took the loaves and fish, He looked up to heaven. He said the blessing. He broke the loaves and gave to the disciples to be distributed to the people. Jesus transforms a potential moment of hunger into a feast. And Jesus takes hold of meager resources and gives them back as shared gifts and in the end and everyone was satisfied and there was an abundance of leftovers. They can stay for another day. Pwede pang may kainin for breakfast. But it is Jesus who must host it. Si Hesus ang dapat maghanda.

Alam n’yo kinuha ni Hesus sa kan’yang mga kamay ang kakaunting tinapay at isda. Mahalaga ang kamay na pinagdadaanan ng tinapay at isda. Depende yan sa kamay e. Huh! Kapag baliktarin natin, five thousand loaves and two thousand fish, kapag dumaan sa maling kamay, kahit limang tao hindi makakakain. (Applause) No miracle will happen. Nasa kamay kasi ni Hesus e, hindi naman tayo laging sinasabing, “Kulang! Kulang!” Baka hindi naman kulang, kaya nagkukulang ay dahil ang mga kamay na makati, mga kamay na makamkam, mga kamay na pakabig. But the hands of Jesus will hold the bread and the fish and will look up to heaven, recognizing the source. These are gifts, gifts from God, they are not commodities to be kept accumulated and hoarded. These are gifts from God and they must continue circulating as gifts.

Ayan na naman ang mundo natin ngayon, hindi na gifts ang tingin e, objects, commodity. O mga mister at misis, anong tingin nyo sa asawa nyo? Gift? walang sumagot… (Laughter) Gift pa ba? Gift pa? Ayan… mga sisters, anong tingin nyo sa community members n’yo? Gift? Ay parang ayaw… (Laughter) Gift ano? Pagnakikita n’yo ba e, “Wow! Biyaya ng Diyos!” ano ho? Ganyan… How do we look at reality? Is it from the horizon of gifts? The hands of Jesus always recognize gifts, so Jesus is at the center, Jesus is the good news, Jesus is the host, Jesus transforms gifts into overflowing gifts. Jesus orders the disciples to feed the multitude, but actually He will feed the multitude. Ang trabaho po ng iba ay serbidor. Wag nating agawan si Hesus sa Kan’yang papel, S’ya ang magpapakain, tayo servers lang. E minsan binabaliktad natin e. Tayo ang nagpapakain, si Hesus ang server. Kaya balik dun sa papel ha, kahit pa Monsignor ka, Your Eminence ka, taga-bigay ka lang ng tinapay baby!! (Laughter) Tana na yang mga kung ano-anong akala mo kung ano. Ang even sa mga ano, sasabihin, “Oh that project, kung hindi dahil sa akin, wala yan.” “That hall, kung wala ang aking pamilya, hindi maitatayo yang hall na yan.” “Yang mga upuan nay an, dapat nand’yan ang mga pangalan ng mga ano,” as though everything all the food came from me. No! withouth Jesus the good news, whose hands can transform meager resources into God’s abundant gifts to the multitude, we have nothing to serve. We are just servants, servants! Taga-dala ng tray! Pero hindi tayo ang pinagmulan ng tinapay! Bakit ba ako nagagalit? (Laughter) E kasi puro servant leadership, servant leadership… Pero naku! All the pretentions, that we are the host, we are the ano, hindi. It is Jesus, what do we bring? We bring our nothingness. Maswerte sila merong five loaves, yung iba sa atin one fourth long ang loaf natin e. Okay nay un. If it comes from God then it is a gift that could be multiplied for others, “yung iba dalawa ang fish, ako buntot lang ang dala ko.” But bring it, bring it the the hands of Jesus, and then wait. Wait to serve the people, not with your bread, not with your fish, but the bread and fish that now have become gifts from the loving Jesus. No feeding happens if we pretend to be the one feeding others. Jesus is the good news, Jesus must do it. Kanina ininterview ako, “papano po ba nagsimula itong PCNE?” Mga ganyan, ganyan, hindi ko nga malaman paano ko sasagutin e. Kasi talagang wala ka naman talagang ano e, naibigay. I want to believe it is Jesus who is the gospel, who summons all of us here, who wants to renew us in compassion so He can continue serving and feeding His flock. But He needs our hands, He needs us to go and bring His food to others.

Yung testimonies from Marawi, yung Sanlakbay, yung HIV nga po, those who have lost their loved ones, yung mga migrants… How many of you were there in Cuneta? Alam n’yo ho, wala namang script yun e, I did not know what to expect, basta meron lang questions, “Tell your stories.” But in the hands of Jesus, nagdugtong-dugtong. Yung si Sam at si Father Chito, si Teacher Sabs, at saka si Antoinette, na hindi ko mapigilan. And then si Bishop Cornelius at si Sr. Luz, ano ho? And then you could see, sabi ng iba, “Okay ho ang pagka-facilitate n’yo.” And then at the back of my mind, “They brought their five loaves and their fishes into the hands of God and God multiplied it, multiplied the graces and the blessings.” And were not our hearts overflowing, with love, and compassion. Were not our tears overflowing also? Halos kantahin ko noon, gusto ko na sanang baguhin yung kanta e, hindi na yung huwag kang umiyak e, gusto ko sanang kantahin yung ano doon e, yung … (Laughter) Ah hindi, nakalimutan ko lang yung linya… (Laughter) yun bang parang, “They ask me how I knew that true love was true, when your hearts on fire, you don’t realize, smoke gets in your eyes” ayan! Kapag nag-aalab ang puso sa pag-ibig, ang puso nasa mata, iiyak ka na! But those six persons, six loves, six fishes, have fed thousands, they have fed thousands of us in Cuneta. So salamat ulit dun sa anim, Bishop Sim, thank you very much and thanks to the hands of Jesus.

And finally, the compassion of Jesus, Jesus sees the hunger of peoples. But Jesus sees different types of hunger. In the gospel, before feeding them with bread, Jesus fed them with the word of God. He thought them many things. The bread that is the gospel, the bread that is the evangelion, the bread that nourishes and transforms life. Yes, bread and fish, but Jesus has not forgotten the word of God. He also gave them healing, the hunger for healing, He delivered many from demons and evil spirits. During these past days, we have been initiated into the different needs of peoples, different hungers and we bring our respective breads and fish, our gifts, our charisms, the clergy, the consecrated people, the lay, the youth, the parents, the police, those in social advocacies, teachers, catechists, bring your bread, because there are many different types of hunger, and no single individual can pretend to have all the types of bread for all the hungers of the world. Kailangan tulong-tulong. From where I stand, yung iba sa in’yo mukhang, ensaymada (Laughter) yung iba sa in’yo mukhang biscocho, yung iba sa in’yo mukhang siopao, (Laughter) yung iba sa in’yo mukhang balikutsa, alam n’yo ba yung balikutsa? Yung iba sa in’yo mukhang jacobina, ano ho? Ay ganun e, masarap yun! Yung iba sa in’yo, mukhang mumo, pero yung mumo na yon, ay nakapagpapakain ng mga nangangailangan. So it is Jesus who will feed, because it is Jesus who is compassionate, because, Jesus’ heart can resonate with the many needs of people. Kaya tulungan natin si Hesus doon sa iba’t-ibang hungers. Para dun sa naka-attend ng maraming workshops, para dun sa nakarinig ng maraming kwento, ayan pag-uwi ninyo, wag na tayong mag messiah na, “sasagutin ko lahat yan!” Nako, yan ang formula sa hindi pagsagot. Ako ho kung makakatugon ako sa pakanta-kanta edi sige, hindi naman kasi ako makatula, o di yung mga tutula tumula. Yung ganyan, ano yung maibibigay mo at pagsama-samahin natin. But look at the compassion of Jesus in the Gospel of St. John, after seeing the feast, after seeing the multiplication of the loaves, people said, “Oh there is a prophet in our midst!” and they wanted to carry Him away, to make Him king. What sis Jesus do? He saw that and He withdrew to the mountain alone.

This is a detail that is often forgotten. I want to imagine Jesus going up to the mountain to be alone with His Father. I want to see Him crying with deep pain, as though telling the Father, “They did not understand me. They did not understand the sign that I performed. I am not here to be a king, they’re not looking for me, they’re not looking for the true Chris, they are looking for somebody else.” And that aloneness, He cries to the Father. In His own need, He turns to the Father. This is an important element of PCNE and new evangelization. Jesus refuses any attempt to instrumentalise God’s word for worldly goals. Kunwari gospel yun pala ambisyon. Kunwari tulong, yun pala media mileage. Kunwari malasakit, yun pala career.

My dear brothers and sisters, after PCNE let us not pretend to be the new kings and queens. If they attempt to carry us, to become their heroes, heroines, please like Jesus, cry. Cry to the Father and pray that they may finally see the true Jesus and the true gospel.

Now I have to admit, nahirapan akong gumawa ng synthesis na ito hindi ko alam kung papaano, but I just followed the biblical inspiration of PCNE5 and I hope that these points – seeing the needs and feeling helpless will make us more compassionate. Secondly, it is Jesus who feeds, we are just servers of what He prepares and thirdly, let us not use the gospel, let us not instrumentalise the gospel for self-interests and non-evangelical purposes, when that happens we should withdraw. Cry, so that the true Jesus and the true gospel may be seen and accepted.


Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. Website managed by LBN Foundation © 2017.

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