Homily of Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, DD,
During the Ordination of Brs. Rommel Olivar, OP, Felix delos Reyes Jr., OP, and Art Vincent Pangan, OP
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2017, Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City
My brothers, Felix, Rommel, and Art, before you proceed to ordination, and after this homily, you will be asked a series of questions – six questions in all. If you have heard the questions, you also have the words for the answers – the answer is: “I do.” Yes, I do. The Gospel gave us Jesus asking two questions: “Who do people say that I am?” “But you, who do say that I am?” I would like to ask you to answer more questions. I want to add more to the questions that you have to answer. But the questions I will ask you cannot be answered by “Yes” or “No”. It can only be answered from the sincerity of heart. My first question to you dear brothers, is, “Where is your heart?” The second question is: “Where is your joy?” And the third question: “Who really are you?” Sino ba talaga kayo?
To the first question, “Where is your heart?”, there is a related question: “Where is your treasure?” Because the Lord told us: “Where your treasure is, there is your heart. Where your heart is, there is your treasure.” So, paraphrasing myself, now I ask you: “Where is your treasure? Where is your heart?” I will answer my own question. Your heart should always be in God and your heart should always be with the people. In fact, dear brothers, your heart is not even yours. Your heart is not yours! And because your heart is not yours, your heart should not even stay with you. Your heart belongs to God and your heart belongs to God’s people. It is only in giving yourself totally to God and totally to the people whom God loves that you can truly say: “There lies my treasure.” Keep in mind, without God, you cannot be priests. And you are only priests for God’s people. You will be ordained priests because of God and for the people. Keep your heart in the right place all the time. There might come a time in your lives when your heart will be possessed by lesser gods, when your heart will listen to lesser voices, when your heart will get attracted to lesser lives. It is good to review your priorities daily because we are only humans, and as human beings, we can forget, we can compromise, we can neglect. So where is your heart? My answer: with God and with God’s people.
“Where is your joy?” Are you happy this afternoon because you’re going to be priests? You are happy because your loved ones are here sharing your happiness? Where is your joy? What makes you happy? Finishing your academic degrees?Getting a good assignment?Enjoying the trust of your superior? Getting congratulated for job well-done? Hearing people say about you: “Ang galing ni Father!” Is that where you find your joy? Now, dear brothers, there will come a time when your superior will tell you to do something even if you know there is something better than what your superior is telling you to do. And yet, you will be told to do it because it is God’s will. There will come a time when you will do something good and you will be suspected. There will come a time when you do something good and you will be ignored. There will be a time when you will be calumniated. There will be a time that you will be forgotten. There will be a time, my dear brothers. When that time comes, in the words of Brother Francis: “Rejoice, because that is perfect joy!” Your perfect joy is not when everybody claps for you. Your perfect joy is not when you are popular, not when you are appreciated and recognized. Your perfect joy should be in the cross! The reality my dear brothers is, Jesus was happiest not in Galilee where people were saying: “We have never heard something like this before.” It was not in Jerusalem when he was entering with people saying: “Hosanna to the son of David!” The highest point of the happiness of Jesus was at the cross when he was able to say: “It is finished, I have accomplished the will of my Father.” You, my dear brothers, are called to be happy priests. You are called to be disciples of joy. But that joy should come from the cross and nowhere else! Because if that joy just comes from visiting exotic places, and eating in exotic restaurants, and wearing fancy clothes and shoes, it is shallow! It is not from God! It is destructing. It is from the enemy of God. Where is your joy? Say humbly: in the cross of the Lord. Where is your heart? With God and with His people.
The last question: “Who really are you?” Believe me, brothers, after vesting you with chasuble later on, gagwapo kayo ng ten points. And people will say: “Ang gwapo ni Father!” Huwag kayong maniwala! Who really are you? You are not what you do. You are not what you have. You are not the money that you carry in your pocket. You are not the doctorate that you will earn. You are not the books that you will publish. Who really are you? Before the Lord, we can only say: “Miserando atque eligendo.” Before the Lord, we are miserable sinners but because of the Lord, we have been made beautiful. We used to be ugly and now we are good because the Lord has touched us. We used to be blackened and scarred by sin, but now, we are beautiful because we have been touched by love Himself. Who really are you? You are sinners, do not forget. Who really are you? But you are not only sinners, you have been redeemed and you have been trusted with the mission to bring Jesus to this world. Who really are you? Do not forget your humble beginnings. Do not allow your priesthood to enrich you. Do not allow your priesthood to become a story of “rags to riches” because if you become rich because of the priesthood, you are like Judas who became thirty pieces of silver richer when he died. My dear brothers, we will always be sinners. God calls you as
sinners and God knows that you will still fall, you will still stumble, you will still be carried away by your weakness even after ordination. And yet, God says: “Nevertheless, I choose him. Nevertheless, I love him. Nevertheless, I will send him.” Where is your heart? Where is your joy? Who really are you? Answer these questions day-by-day, every day of your life. Do not allow your priesthood to turn dull. Keep it sharp like a two-edged sword. Your heart belongs to God and to His people. Your joy is in the cross and in nowhere else. You are sinner but you are loved and beautiful because of the Lord. Felix, Rommel, and Art, it is not by chance that I will lay hands over you and call you to the priesthood. You, three together, will be my one hundred ninety-fifth priests to ordain. I keep you in the memory of my heart. I keep you in the memory of every prayer. If there should come a time, my dear brothers, when you cannot answer the questions anymore – Where is your heart? Where is your joy? And who really are you? – if there should come a time when you feel like walking in the valley of darkness, please come over. We can talk together. And I know that God who calls you today, will be the same God who will keep on calling you, because His call is irrevocable. At the sunset of your lives, may the same God who called you be the same God who will say to you: “Welcome, good and faithful servant! Enter your everlasting reward.” *Special thanks to Br. Michael John Pinuela, OP, for transcribing the homily.