In the thorough exposition of what Christian Priesthood is during the first day of the 5th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE5) held in the University of Santo Tomas last July 18, 2018, His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle identified the two fundamental characteristics of true holiness to avoid the misconceptions prevalent among the Christians today.
“Ang akala natin, para maging banal, kailangan nakahiwalay,” remarked the Cardinal to the assembly of Priests and Religious gathered in the Quadricentennial Pavillion of the said venue.
“Saan ba nanggagaling iyon? Baka hindi natin naaral yung The Priesthood of Christ?” he added.
The Cardinal cited several instances wherein this divide could be seen in the practices of Clergy, Religious, and Lay, such as congregations setting up houses in far off places where there are “no people” and “no signal” just so “to be holy” and vestments so eloquently designed to look very “divine”.
“Kaya tuloy kung minsan, para maging holy, yung mga lay, ginagaya ang mga pari, ginagaya ang mga madre,” he stressed. “Parang nahihirapan na maging banal in the existential solidarity with the human condition.”
“We have to understand sanctification in the priesthood of Christ. It is not more of God and less of solidarity with humanity,” he emphasized. “And as though more of engagement with humanity will lessen my being in touch to God. In Jesus, we find in His person, the meeting of the two.”
According to the Cardinal, the Levitical Priesthood implemented “separation from humanity in order to be on the side of God” so as “to depict holiness and privilege”. This is ironically different from Christ’s Priesthood that showed a “kenosis–the emptying of self to be on the side of humanity as mediator: truly God and truly man”. This is in “existential solidarity with sinners: the human condition”–the “human face of God”.
He said, “by what He suffered”, Jesus “showed us the two fundamental characteristics of holiness.” This is “docility to the Father’s will” and a “compassionate brother”.
“His suffering did not become an occasion to complain. His suffering did not become an occasion to reserve Himself. His suffering did not become an occasion to protect Himself. His suffering became the path to perfection. Perfection in what sense? The interior transformation of the Heart of Jesus,” the Cardinal expounded.
The Cardinal then challenged those present–as well as those who are priests by baptism–to aspire for such perfection, for such holiness.
During his said talk, which is entitled, “Sharing In The One Priesthood Of Christ”, the Cardinal gave three aspects of Christ’s priesthood. One is vis a vis the Levitical Priesthood, vis a vis the content of the offering made by Jewish Priests, and, lastly, sharing in the priesthood of Christ.
The Philippine Conference On New Evangelization is an annual gathering of Catholics in preparation for the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021. The first two days of the Conference is usually dedicated to members of Clergy and Religious and serves as their annual retreat. While the remaining days is a joint gathering with the rest of the Faithful. (~Minnie Agdeppa)