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Cardinal Bo’s Homily for Closing of 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines

‘This is a moment of Grace. The Lord of the Eucharist be praised for the showers of blessings.’

Below is the homily of Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon (Myanmar) for the closing of the 51st International Eucharist Congress in Cebu, Philippines, where he served as papal legate. This text was provided to ZENIT by Cardinal Bo:

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Eucharist, Family, Mercy and Christian Hope:

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ our Lord,

Mabuhay!

Nahihiya/ at/ na-ta-ta’-kot / ako

Na maging ki-na-ta-wan’ nang Santo Padre.

(C.) Apan ka-roon”, a-du-na koy problema. Dili na ko ga-na’-han mo-bi’-ya sa Sugbu”.

Na-hi-gug-ma na ako” sa Sugbo”.

Na-hi-gug-ma sa inyong pagka”-ma-abi-abi-hon.

Na-hi-gugma sa inyong pagka” on(ohn”)

Na-higugma sa inyong ma-nga”  pa-hi-yum”

I-Labi’ na/ Gyud sa inyong lawom” nga pag-tu-o.

Na-hi-gugma ako sa Sugbo!         I love Sebu!!!

Seven days! We are on the Mount Taber.

Seven intense days are coming to an end, my dear friends from all over the world. We have explored the Eucharist in all dimensions with the theme – Christ in Us Hope of Glory, Eucharist the source and the goal of Mission.   More than seventy countries have savored the spiritual food that nourished us through our sharing, our adoration, our beautiful liturgy, our enriching fellowship, our wonderful lectures, our Grand Eucharistic Procession. A global table was laid and we broke the word and the bread. It was almost an eschatological moment of universal brotherhood. The Eucharistic Ecclesiology is seen today. A church that gets its identity through the Eucharist. Congrats and admiration to Archbp. Palma, Bishop Denis, CBCP + entire Church of Philippines.

What a great setting today. As sea of Humanity.  With St Paul we praise : We are the body of the Church. From here I see a humanity that showcases its faith in Jesus of Eucharist. Each one of you is a living bread. We came from various Countries, we spoke various languages. But like the day of the Pentecost, the Eucharist   deepened our relationships. Today we are returning as brothers and sisters. We are returning in haste like the Disciples of Emmaus whose ignorance was dispelled by Jesus breaking the word and breaking the bread.

This is a moment of Grace. The Lord of the Eucharist be praised for the showers of blessings.

Amidst this waves of joy, our hearts are sad today.

  1. Kami ay na”-lu-lung-kot.
  2. Ma-gul”-a’-non kami nga mo-bi’ya ninyo.

We will take leave of our dear Filipino brothers and sisters. What a great hosts you are. What a great experience. For the last seven days you made us all proud to be Catholics. You broke the bread of hospitality, warmth and your smile. You are apostles of smiling! How can we forget your meticulous organization! How can we forget the warmth, the smile, the dance, the piety and the fellowship of all of you.    What a deep experience of table fellowship!

Last seven days we were on the top of the mountain.

Mount Taber of Eucharistic celebrations. Eucharist is a transforming encounter with the living God. As Vatican II says Eucharist was our source and the summit of our Faith. After the intense experience on the Mount Taber, the disciples had to return. We need to return to our daily life.

What is the fruit of this Eucharistic Congress?

Renewed Apostolic and Missionary zeal. Eucharist is the source and goal of our mission. Today Christ is embedded in each one. Christ in us the Hope of Glory. In blessing Cebu with this Eucharistic Congress, Pope Francis directed that the Church through the Supreme Mystery of the Eucharist be renewed in apostolic and Missionary Zeal.

Ite Missa est : We need to go. The very word Mass tell us “ Go’ Go and proclaim the Christian Hope to every soul. The world sees hopelessness everywhere. The Phillipines need Hope. The Church needs hope. Our families need Hope. The world today needs a four letter word : HOPE.

Na-ngi”-na-hang”-lan ang Pilipinas og pag-la”-um

Na-ngi”-na-hang”-lan ang Sim-ba-han” og pag-la”-um.

Nan-ngi”-na-hang”-lan ang atong ka-ba-na”-yan og pag-la-um.

The Church is not an income generating agency. The Church is a hope generating fellowship. Last one week, the Eucharist of Hope was celebrated with great that was done in an admirable way.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be with the Filipino Church, we are re-energized in Christian hope. The biggest Catholic country in Asia holds great hope. I do not deny the challenges – poverty, unsafe migration etc, but this nation holds great promises to the Catholic world. This is the third biggest Catholic nation, after Brazil and Mexico. Filipinas be proud that you remain a favorite daughter of the Church in Asia. But within ten years, you will be the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church!.

This grace comes with challenges and opportunities. Today’s first reading from the book of Jeremiah tells you the great nation of Philippines : “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appoint you, I am with you!”   Are you willing to take up the challenge every one here? A prophet to the nations?

Philippines! The star from the East! Rejoice. Your time with destiny has arrived. You will be the chosen one, not only for Asia but for the world in this millennium. The Philippine church then is a source of hope in a special way precisely Christ in you, the Hope of Glory among the people of Asia, as two Popes – Pope Paul VI in 1970 and John Paul in 1995 articulated. Are you ready? The youth of Philippines? Are you ready to be the Paul of Tarsus of the millennium to this world? An”-dam”   na ba ka-mo?

Many of us come from countries Christianity is a big challenge. Churches are empty, vocations dying out.   Christianity, they say is in the twilight zone!.   Take heart my brothers and sisters from those countries! Filipinas can turn those twilight zones into exciting dawn of new Christianity.   Filipinas – go Multiply your missionaries!   Go and populate those countries where Christianity is becoming minorities! Go to countries that have more pets than children! F.   Ma-nga Filipino,

Pa-ra-mi”-hin nin-yo ang in-yong ma-nga a-nak

Pa-ra-mi”-hin ninyo   ang in-yong/ ma-nga mis-yo-ne-ro.

Pu-mun-ta”/ kayo/ sa Europa at America

Do-on” wala silang ma-nga bata

Marami silang a’-so at pu’-sa

Show what it means to have a true Eucharistic   fellowship. Philippines, Christ in you is a reality and that is the Hope of Glory for the whole Church. We who came from all the corners of the earth go back in hope because you have a strong faith as a bread to be broken with the world.

On this last day Statio Orbis I do not want to give a great theological treatise on Eucharist. Those were done admirably last seven days by worthy speakers. Today I want to talk in simple words to the people, especially to the families and the youth, bringing in mercy and love as the core values of Eucharist.

Family – CHRIST IN YOU IS THE HOPE OF GLORY

The Bible opens with the great event of marriage. God the father seemed to get the family started with great haste. World started with families. Not priests and Nuns. God the father did not create a Rev. Fr. Adam nor Rev. Sr. Eve. He created man and woman and blessed them to be united and gave one simple command : Go and multiply. It is not just children. Go and multiply like the five loaves multiplied to five thousands: go and multiply the joy to the world. Eucharistic theology is so ingrained into the idea of family. Families are the living bread that are offered on the altar in communion with other families in the Mass.

The Eucharist is sown and grown in the family. The family is the first communion. The family is the nuclear church. Table fellowship is held regularly in the family. Family breaks the bread everyday.  Not only in Philippines but all over the world, the family needs to be protected and promoted and nurtured. Death of the family is the death of humanity. Pope Francis has been concerned last three years with three major dangers to the world, the environmental injustice, economic injustice.   But the greatest danger to humanity today is – the destruction of the family. Sadly even among the Catholic Church understanding of the family is contested.

Attempts to redefine the family, redefine the definition of parents have gained strong appeal in rich countries. Human rights discourse in the international forums is getting polluted. Asia and Africa struggle with families that are poor, that are oppressed. Rich countries have diverted the attention of poverty and oppression with great discourses in new forms of families, new forms of parenthood. More than any nuclear bomb, more than any terrorism, a mortal danger awaits humanity because some countries have chosen a path of destroying families through laws.

After the Eucharistic congress, what do we expect? For Africa and Asia, we are looking for the bread of Economic Justice, the bread of Environmental justice. Poor countries are victims of an unjust global order. Poverty to us is the greatest terrorism. Loss of land is our anguish. We need to deal with that. But when we are drawn into international meeting, there is a deliberate attempt to divert the attention of the survival rights of the poor over the life style rights of the rich countries. Eucharistic is a food, memory of the paschal meal, a liberating meal, a meal of salvation. Catholic Church returns to the family. When it celebrates Eucharist, it celebrates the per capita dignity of every family – enough food, a decent income, ability to send their children to school. It is the manna in the desert. It is the food that comes from heaven.

This congress need to end with the strong resolve to strengthen Catholic Families, uphold the priesthood of the laity. Catholic families – Christ in you – you are the hope of glory. The future of the church depends on Catholic Family. As John Paul II said, “the future of humanity passes by way of the family”.  Ministerial priests break the word and break the bread on the altar. You, laity, the people of God, you are called upon the break the word in the market place, in the streets. This is not a privilege but a duty. Every one is asked to proclaim the word ( Mathew 28:18) and Paul whose time was spent more in preaching says : woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel 1 Cor 9:16). The year of new evangelization reaffirmed this mission – The evangelized becoming evangelizers. In this way our families can become part of the mission of church rather than attending mass mostly on Sunday. All Christians, All families   make three centralities in your life : centrality of Jesus, Centrality of the Bible, the centrality of proclamation.

To take up this priesthood of the laity, breaking of the word – Christ Salvation – in the market place, family needs many graces. The first grace is mercy and Love. This is the year of mercy. Pope Francis gave simple advice to keep the family in tact :   three words:   May I, Thank you, and Sorry

  1. Pa-li-hug     2. Salamat       3. So-ri

These are words of mercy not judgment.   Family life is difficult but I see in Philippines a valiant effort to live through the martial

 

storms and steer the barge through various temptations. Christ is in you, my dear families, you are the hope of the future.   Love, St Paul says in our second reading, is never judgmental but understanding. May this love and mercy be two eyes of your blessing. Strengthen your family with mercy and Love.

Youth – Christ in You is the hope of Glory

I read 52 percent of the population is below the age of 25 in Philippines. What a blessing! This is the future of the Church. What a young nation? The FABC documents beautifully say : The Youth are not only the hope of the future but they are the present precious treasures. Christ when he broke the bread was a young man. Peter when he preached to the young Church he said : In the last days God Says: I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy and your young men see vision.

As we end this Eucharistic congress, the church needs a deep examine of its conscience :What is the status of the Youth in our churches? In many churches they are the missing Generation. Are they around the Eucharistic Altars? Are they the lost sheep? Are the shepherds going in search of the lost sheep? Instead of expecting the youth to return to the church, the church must return to the youth. A church that neglects the youth writes its own death sentence.

I was recently in the Jail where the dancing inmates gave a scintillating display of dancing in the rain. Many of them were lost sheep – drugs, crimes, killings etc. But some of the authorities did not abandon them, did not condemn them but they have found beauty in them, made them one of the best performing dancing groups. What a great witness in the year of Mercy. Our youth deserve understanding not judgment.

People of Philippines you have two great graces. Your family integrity is strong. You have the least divorce rates in the region.  Many rich countries have money but no families. Second the number of young people. What a blessing! If only leaders invest in your youth you will be the strongest and richest country. Many of the rich countries do not have children.

The future does not belong to countries that have oil or weapons.  The future belongs to nation with young people.  That way your future is blessed. Christ is in you.

But the church has a great duty. You need a next EDSA revolution, revolution for human development. Human development is the new evangelization and let this evangelization start today. This was clearly indicated by Pope Benedict in his encyclical CARITAS IN VERITATE.

Priests and religious – Christ in you – Hope of Glory

What a joy to see so many priests, so many religious! Your faces and your commitment shows the church of Christ is vibrant. You are the hope. The centrality of the Eucharist the last seven days proved once again, it remains the source and summit of your life commitment. Your generosity is the first bread broken and your life long commitment is the next bread.

We are grateful to women religious for the wonderful service they are doing. Their mission is to bring to reality the meaning and mission of the Eucharist. Women religious break the bread of healing, teaching, consoling, protesting and various other services.

As we leave we need to be energized by the theology of the Eucharist. It is easy to be tempted to be surrounded by riches and influence. The power of the Eucharist is powerlessness. “when I am weak, I am strong” says St Paul. To be a priest and religious is a huge challenge. But always remember The first Eucharist was celebrated by a condemned man, a powerless man, a man whose ‘heart was troubled’. But the power of Eucharist flowed from those empty hands. It continues to inspire us. Eucharist is true presence, Eucharist is the mission, Eucharist is the service.

The power of the empty hands : Yes. Gandhi, Martin Luther King and your own EDSA movement, and Aung San Suu Kui, showed that moral power is the greatest power. Let hope be your moral power. That moral power comes through joyful witness. Pope Francis says : “Church does not grow by proselyting but by joyful witness ( Joy of the Gospel 14).

The hope is the answer. We believe in a God who is Immanuel.   If we believe in a Eucharistic God Be joyful. If you believe you encountered Jesus in the breaking of the bread, be joyful, Pope Francis says “ How can we announce good news if our face looks like we have just returned from a funeral. Today’s third reading gives how Jesus despite challenged is always on course in mission. Cross is part of his mission and our mission. But everything ends in hope of resurrection.

Eucharist urges us to live with joy and hope. Church is a hope generating organization. That is the greatest message. Someone said, many priests and religious die at the age of thirty and buried at the age of seventy, eighty and ninety. Yes. if we stopped dreaming we are dead. The words take and eat and take and drink urges us to dream of a total salvation and liberation.

Let hope be theme song as we leave.

I do leave with great hope today. Hope of seeing a vibrant church, the joy of seeing so many friends from every corner of the earth.

Hope in our hearts, in our minds, in our gatherings, hope flows like river in our hearts today. What a great experience of fellowship.

Amidst the thundering awareness of God’s hope, tear drops swell in my eyes. How can we go? How can we go from you, Philippine Church and the people! You have loved us so intensely and the thought of going shakes us. As we go I tell part of us refuse to come with us. Our hearts wish to stay with you. You have made us proud to be Catholics and you made us to realize the intense fellowship that comes through Eucharist.

O the Great Philippine people, Rejoice today! You are a nation of hope, your date with destiny has arrived. God will give you a great future. Your sons and daughters will be blessed hundred fold and you will be called a blessed nation.   Hope in your hearts, hope in your families, let hope flow like a radiant river in your mountains, let hope spread like a morning sun on your people.

This nation will rise to a glory and prosperity and spirituality. It will become the lamp set on the mountain, becoming a light not only to Asia but to the whole world.

  1. Ba”-yang Filipino:

Mag-sa-ya”   ka-yo” sa araw na ito.

Ka-yo” ay ba”-yan nang pag-a”-sa

Bibi-gyan” ka-yo’ nang Dios nang i-sang”

Magandang” ki-na-bu-ka”-san.

Thank you.

Palihug i-am’po   nin-yo a-ko’

Gi-hi-gug-ma ko kamo’

I-am-po ko ka-mong” ta-nan

Salamat gid!       Dios ti ag-ngi-na

Ka-nin”-yong   ta-nan”   Dag-hang” salamat

[Text provided to ZENIT by Cardinal Charles Bo]

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