Forty first Anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral-Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception

Homily of His Eminence Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo during the Eucharistic Celebration, 41st Anniversary of the Dedication of Malolos Cathedral and Diocesan Launching of the Year of Clergy and Consecrated Persons
Homily: 200th Anniversary of the Construction Of the Malolos Cathedral, Basilica Minore of the Immaculate Conception; Launching of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life.
+Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I.
Malolos, Bulacan
04 December 2017

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Introduction
May I express my profound thanks to your beloved Bishop, Bishop Joey Oliveros, for inviting me to celebrate this Holy Mass with you.

What a truly wonderful day this is! The 200th anniversary of the construction of your beautiful cathedral! The construction began in 1814 and was completed in 1817.

The Bishop who consecrated this church in 1817 was the Bishop of Nueva Segovia, the Spanish Bishop Francisco Alban. History has turned around full circle, because here I am, Archbishop Emeritus of Nueva Segovia, to celebrate this 200th anniversary with you. What a wonderful coincidence! And another wonderful coincidence, our own Cathedral in Cotabato City is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and is also preparing for Our Lady’s December 8 fiesta!

At this Holy Mass the Diocese of Malolos is launching the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life. Yesterday morning in Cotabato City we had our own launching of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life.

My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All Peoples
The Liturgy of the Word today is rich with meaning for our daily lives. In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Lord declares to the people: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” In the house of prayer, the servants of the Lord who are faithful to the covenant will offer sacrifices that are acceptable to the Lord.

The Lord’s words in the book Isaiah the prophet call us to be faithful to God, if we want our offerings and sacrifices to the Lord acceptable.

In this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life, the Lord’s words apply to them even more. For in 1991 the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines declared that all the clergy should be servant-leaders. They are to be those who, with pure hearts, serve the Lord and his people with zeal and fidelity. They govern and rule over their flock by serving them, rather than being served by them. This requires humility and simplicity. This is the way of Jesus, the way of servant-leadership.

PCP-II likewise enjoins men and women in consecrated life, those who vow or promise poverty, chastity, and obedience, to be prophetic witnesses of the Kingdom of God and of the Good News of salvation. They are to proclaim Jesus not so much in words but by “observing what is right, doing what is just.” They proclaim the Good News of Jesus by following his way, the way of simplicity, of love and service, the way of holiness. Their life in a religious community is an icon, a reflection of the life of the Trinity, an eternal life of communion in love.

Men and women in consecrated life may come from different cultures, speak different languages, have different temperaments. But in their community life, they are in communion with one another. They are united in one mind and heart.

They are prophets. They say no to the dividedness of our society. They say no to violent extremism. They say no to the various political and ideological conflicts in our society. By their life, consecrated persons say yes to unity in diversity. They say yes to respecting people with different faiths, respect for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. They say yes to solidarity with God, solidarity with others, solidarity with creation.

You Are the Temple of God, the Spirit Dwells in You.

The second reading today from the First Letter to the Corinthians brings us to another form of temple. God’s temple is not merely a building. God’s temple is the human person. St. Paul reminds the early Christian community that each member is a temple of the Holy Spirit. If so, then we must give due respect to our bodies, to our own selves. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. In us dwells the Holy Trinity. In us lives the Infinite and Almighty God! What a tremendous mystery! Yet it is not fake news. It is reality. The task of clergy and consecrated people is to keep reminding us of this divine gift and to encourage us to be worthy temples of God.

If in 1817 the building of God’s temple, this present Cathedral was completed, it is our task today, especially the task of the clergy and religious, to build authentic communities of faith where God dwells, communities that proclaim God’s presence. Our parish communities, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, our covenant communities or so called “mandated” organizations are meant to be such communities of God’s presence.

You are Peter and upon this Rock I will Build my Church

The universal Church is such a community. The universal community of believers and followers of Christ is the dwelling house of God. This is the Church. And we were built on a rock, Cephas or Peter. St. Peter is the rallying point.

Remember the Gospel today. Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” It is Simon Peter who declares: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Hearing this answer, Jesus rewards him with these words: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter or Petros is the rock on which we as the community of Jesus are built. Every Pope after St. Peter serves the whole Church by building the Church to be truly what it is meant to be, a holy temple, a holy community where God dwells, a holy community of God’s presence, whose sacrifices are acceptable to God.

Today then, my Brothers and Sisters, our celebration of the 200th anniversary of the construction of the Malolos Cathedral is rich with meaning for our daily life. Our reflection on today’s Liturgy of the Word widens our understanding of the Cathedral as God’s temple. It is not only a physical building constructed in 1817. It is a Church that is God’s people. It is not only a house of prayer. It is a believing and praying community. It is not simply a religious institution. It is a community of God’s presence. The Church of Malolos is You. It is the Bishop, the clergy, the religious, the laity in communion with Pope Francis, the successor of Peter the Rock.

Clergy and Consecrated Persons Building the Temple of God

The clergy and the consecrated persons, the men and women religious in our midst, are here to minister to you, to serve you, to assist you to become truly God’s holy temple. They do so not merely by words but by the prophetic witness of their lives of communion and solidarity with God. They have a crucial role in our daily Christian life of following Christ.

It is time for us to recognize their crucial role in our lives in this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life. May I, therefore, request the clergy and the men and women religious who are here today. Kindly stand up and be recognized…. My dear people, let us give them a big hand…. And to the servant leader of your diocese, Bishop Joey Oliveros.

Conclusion

May Mary the Mother of the Church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, be ever our intercessor and constant companion in building the Lord’s house.

Congratulations to all of you on this historic anniversary of your beautiful Cathedral. God bless all of you.

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