Incense smoke surrounds Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who used his homily during a Mass to end the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization in calling on the faithful to practice the virtue of humility instead of running after fame and power. (Roy Lagarde)

MANILA, Oct. 18, 2013—A high-ranking church official on Wednesday called on the Catholic faithful to practice the virtue of humility in their lives by seeking their true mission instead of running after fame, power, and position in their respective endeavors. 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that bearers of the good news must learn to excel in their mission not for the sake of enriching themselves, but for the sake of fulfilling their mission for the benefit of others. 

“It is good to start this congress of new evangelization on the note of humility…How can you be the bearer of good news when you seek praises, adulation, and the best seat? (If that is how you will look at it), what you want is honor, not mission,” he said in his homily during the opening Eucharist of the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE). 

“People of ambition look for position, but not for mission. That is guaranteed. They are only after position instead of mission. Why? Because of ambition,” he added. 

The prelate also reminded the people to ground themselves with the values of justice and peace to effectively share the kingdom of God to other people. 

“How can you be the teachers of the kingdom if you neglect justice and the love of God? Isn’t the kingdom of God about justice and peace that comes from the spirit? …You impose the burdens of the law but you do not lift a finger to perform or fulfill those same laws,” he said. 

Noting the need for each individual to undergo conversion and renewal, Tagle urged the faithful to recognize their personal need for evangelization. 

“We open this congress fired up with love for God for the church and for mission but we are starting it humbly, knowing that we are also in need of evangelization. The evangelizer, to be a real evangelizer, needs to be evangelized,” he said. 

“We don’t (have to pretend) that we are better than the rest. As St. Paul said, ‘We are all bound to be judged.’ And so we are all in need of renewal,” Tagle added. 

‘Faith in the midst of ruins’ 

Noting the recent destruction of Philippine heritage churches brought by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the country, Tagle urged the Catholic faithful to seek “faith in the midst of ruins” and not to lose hope amid the natural calamity that took the lives of many Filipinos. 

“This is the whole point of the PCNE—it is a humble contribution to the construction and strengthening of the church (that is) rooted in Jesus and His word, in the spirit and in mission, in the midst of ruins. Faith in the midst of ruins,” Tagle said. 

He urged both religious and lay individuals to rebuild and strengthen the Church of God through rooting themselves to Christ amid the natural calamities and political upheavals plaguing the nation. 

Aside from the destructive earthquake that gravely affected various parts of the country, Tagle also noted the multibillion-peso pork barrel scandal and the recent standoff in Zamboanga as among the vital political issues confronting the nation. 

“We also cannot forget what happened to the people in Zamboanga, Jolo, Basilan, and Cotabato. Some are just recovering from the effects of the monsoon and Typhoon Santi, the farmers of Nueva Ecija, Aurora, and Quezon,” he said. “As people of the Philippines, we are still grappling with the horrendous revelations these past months of the misuse of the government funds.” 

“Before the images of churches crumbling due to the earthquake, I could almost hear the message of God to St. Francis saying ‘build my church, rebuild my church’,” he said. 

“But how can we reconstruct the church apart from Jesus, the cornerstone? How can we construct the church without His life-giving word? How can we strengthen the church without the Holy Spirit who will transform hearts of stones into a living flesh and all of us into a living temple?” Tagle said. 

“How can we reconstruct the church without love that enables us to break the shells of egoism and self-interest in order to embrace God, neighbor, society, and the whole of creation? Unless the Lord builds the house, in vain to the builders’ labor,” he added. 

Tagle said the faithful must strive to bring back the love of Christ in their day-to-day living for it has “prevented the total collapse and ruin of humanity.” 

“Love brought a new hope in heaven and in Earth. We want to revive that love for that is the truth of the good news of salvation,” he said. (Jennifer Orillaza)