Blessing of Memorial Shrine of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Holy Eucharist celebration
Monday, 02 May 2011 at Bataan Technopark, Inc. in Morong , Bataan
More than thirty years ago people of different culture, creed and customs came here. It was because their lives were threatened and in great danger. We welcome them so that they could live safely and in peace. The whole world, through the United Nations, assisted and helped so that their lives could be preserved and humanly promoted.
It is man’s longing to live. It is his ardent desire not just to exist, but to live freely and fruitfully. But man does not live alone. He is interrelated with each other. He needs one another. Each one is brother’s keeper. And thus, when a brother or a sister cries for help demands of love impels each one of us to act.
They want to live. And we respond to them with love. They came as foreigners. We took them as our friends. They were strangers. But we accepted them as family. We considered them as our brothers and sisters.
Thirty years ago, on February 21, 1981, a great man of God, our Blessed Pope John Paul II came to this place. He came with God’s love. He imparted God’s graces. He blessed us with his inspiring words and exemplary deeds. What he showed to us was reassurance that our Church is a caring mother who welcomes all, accepts all and embraces all. For the Church there is no stranger. For our God no one is left alone. No one is outside. No one is nobody. All are special in eyes of God. All matters to God.
What we can learn from here?
First, from our brothers and sisters who came here in this historical place of Morong, Bataan. They lived the scriptural passage which affirms “there is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15,13). It was their dream for a better life. It was a desire for a brighter future. It was out of love for their loved ones that they travelled. They braved the open seas. Under the shadow of persecution and death, they beat all odds to seek a peaceful and hospitable place. They did not give up. They persevered. They endured all hardships and uncertainties. They continued to hope and pray for accommodating acceptance.
Now a lesson is so clear for us. Even pain and problems should never hinder us to pursue our goals. Even crisis and cross should never stop us to fulfill our given task and duties. Even hardships and hurts should never discourage us to raise our sail until our journey is done.
Second, from us who welcomed, walked and worked for our brothers and sisters. What we have put into practiced what we Jesus affirmed “whenever you did this to these little one who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Matthew 25,40). What we did was out of love. What we shared was how we care. Whoever they were and wherever they were, we were there to welcome, to assist and to help.
Our services were for all regardless of languages, religious beliefs and cultural diversities. It was not out of recognition, not out of compensation and not out of career promotion but we care. We love. And because of love we serve.
Now this is a lesson to be learned. Our help is not limited to a certain group or to a particular community. Our services are not determined by those who can reciprocate or who can appreciate us. Let us go out of our ways to reach out. Let us continue to lend our helping hands. Even our resources are little we will still be ready to give. Even our social status is not affluent we will still be available to help. We love. And because of love we will provide.
Third, from Blessed Pope John Paul II who came and celebrated Holy Mass for our brothers and sisters. His grace-filled presence on February 21, 1981 was a powerful testimony and translation to what Jesus preached, “the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many” (Mark 10,45). When our beloved Pope John Paul II came he made himself very much available and visible. Seeing your condition before and speaking about your present situation at that time revealed that our blessed Holy Father was with you, and for all. He felt your pain. He bored your cross. He grieved in your sorrow. Staying with our brothers and sisters on that memorable February 21, blessed Pope John Paul II was truly a personification of God’s love. He made us feel that God is with us. He brought God’s help. He shared God’s hope. And we experienced God’s healing. Indeed Psalm 23 verse 4 was true to us that we can confidently pray “although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are beside me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”
Now this leads us realize that God knows what is there in my hearts. He knows what is happening in our life. God is not absent in our lives. God is not deaf to our prayers. He listens. He attends to our needs. And God sends people in our life to help us. God brings people in our midst to lead us to safety and success. God makes people to guide and guard us as we journey in this sea of life.
My dearest friends in Christ, we are just ordinary travellers or seafarers in this world. We are just pilgrims. Our true home is heaven. Our final destination is to be God. Our life is like an open sea. As we journey on in the waters of life, we raise our sail. Sometimes we are tested and sometimes we fail. Sometimes we emerged victorious. There are times we find life hard and we tend to give up. Sometimes we are tempted and we give in. We find ourselves adrift, lost in the vastness of the sea.
But whatever happened to us, God is still waiting for us. He stands at the port, ready to embrace us and welcome us back to the shore, to a safe ground, to our home. His love for us is as deep as the sea. His forgiveness is as immense as the ocean. Like the sea, God’s love is mysterious yet real. How much God loves us? How much we care our brothers and sisters? The answer lies in the depth of sea: immense and without measure. God loves us and we love our brothers and sisters till the seas run dry.
+Ruperto Cruz Santos
Bishop of Balanga