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Mydearfriends,sistersandbrothersintheLord WeareintheholyseasonofAdvent,atimetoprepareforthecomingoftheMessiahthrough prayer,penanceandgoodworks.Afewdaysagoafriendtoldmethatmycomingintothe Archdiocese of Manila as its 32nd Archbishop is truly Advent. Youare the one whois to come,hedeclared.Theremarkmademelaugh.Italsomademethink.

think.Isthisoccasionreally aboutme?Iknowmanypeopleareasking,WhoisthenewarchbishopofManila?Whatishe like?Whatarehisvisionandplans?ButlikeJohntheBaptistIaminvitingyoutofocusonthe Onemightierthanallofus,JesusChrist,theRisenOneandtheTrueShepherdoftheChurch. MyEpiscopalMottosaysitplainly,DominusEst!ItistheLord! ThisexclamationisdrawnfromtheRisenChristsappearancetosomeofhisdisciplesattheSea of Tiberias as recounted in John 21. In a retreat that I facilitated as a priest, this episode impressedmedeeply.AlthoughittellsofaResurrectionappearance,itisindeedanAdvent experience.TheRisenLordcomestohisdisciples.Herevealswhotrulyis. Sevendiscipleswentoutfishing.Fiveofthemarenamed:SimonPetertherecognizedheadof thebandofTwelvewhodeniedJesus,Thomaswhodoubtedthetestimonyofhiscompanions aboutJesusappearancetothem,Nathanaelwhoquestionedifanythinggoodcouldcomefrom Nazareth,thesonsofZebedeeknownfortheirambitiontogettheseatsofhonourinJesus Kingdom,andtwowhoremainunnamed.Doubtersandunknowns,theyrepresenttheChurch atitsinfancy.SimonPeterplannedtogooutfishingandtherestjoinedhim.Togethertheywere the fragile Church embarking on its mission. Into the vast waters of mission they travelled together. Butthatwholenighttheycaughtnothing.Tiredanddistraughttheyreturnedtoshore.They probablydidnotnoticetheearlymorninglight.Itwasstillnightforthem.Standingonthe shorewasamantheydidnotknow.Heaskediftheyhadcaughtanythingtoeat.Thatquestion couldsoundprovocativetoagroupthathadlabouredallnightwithoutsuccess.IfIwereoneof thedisciples,Iwouldhaveretorted,Hey,dontyouseethatourboatsareempty?Dontyou see?Areyoublindorareyouinsultingus?Butthediscipleswereprobablysotiredtoargue withhim.Thenthestrangerissuedasurprisingcommandtocastthenetovertherightsideof theboat.Healsopromisedtheywouldfindsomething.Theyfollowedhimandhadacatchtoso bountifultheycouldnotpullitin.Thisstrangerwasnotblindafterall.Hesawwherethefishes were.Whatthedisciplesofdoubtersandunknownsdidnotsee,hesawclearly. Atthis moment thedisciplewhomJesuslovedexclaimed,It is theLord. Theeyes of the beloveddisciplewereopened.Hisstaremovedfromthecatchtothelovingpresenceintheir midst.Thismanisnotastranger.HeisthelovingLord.Thelongdarknightisover.Morning hascome.ItistheLord! ThissimplestoryteachesmevaluablelessonsaboutthemissionoftheChurchandmyministry asabishop.Firstofall,themissionoftheChurchshouldbewhollydirectedbytheLordwhois alwayspresentasShepherdandguide.HumaneffortsshouldcontinuebutunlesstheLord

directsthecatch,welabourinvain.WeknowthattheLordguardsHisChurch.Hekeepswatch withusonthoselongnightsofconfusionandhelplessnessinmission.Wheninspiteofour good intentions and efforts there are still the multitude of hungry people we cannot feed, homelesspeoplewecannotshelter,batteredwomenandchildrenwecannotprotect,casesof corruptionandinjusticethatwecannotremedy,thelongnightofthedisciplesinthemiddleof theseacontinuesinus.Thenwegrowincompassiontowardsourneighborswhoselivesseem tobeaneverendingdarknight.Butinourweariness,theLordcomes.DumaratingSiya.Advent neverends.HeistheshepherdpromisedinthefirstreadingfromEzekiel.Hewillcometohis sheepwheretheyarescatteredwhenitiscloudyanddark.Heisnear.HeisEmmanuel.Butwe needtohearhisvoiceandtofollowhisdirection.WeneedtoseerealitieswithHiseyes.We need faith. Without faith fuelled by love, we cannot truly be a missionary Church of Jesus Christ.ItisonlybythevisionprovidedbyfaiththattheChurchcouldmeaningfullycastitsnets inthevastseasoftheworldandhistory.Theymaybemurkytohumaneyes,buttheLordsees wherethefishesare.Thenewevangelizationrequiresputtingonthemindandtheeyesofthe Lordagain,atransformationcomingfromprayer.Thenwhenwepray,wearetransformed,we seedifferently.Achild,especiallytheunborn,isnotlongerseenasaburdenbutagift,theyouth arenotaproblembutapromise,womenarenotobjectsbutpersons,laborersarenotmachines butpartners,thepoor,thedifferentlyabledarenotanuisancebutourjewels,andcreationisnot anobjectofmanipulationbutasighofGodssustaininglove.Theseandmanymorecomprise theChurchsmiraculousharvestfromtheseasofmissionifonlyweseewiththeeyesofChrist. WheneverweseeastheLorddoes,thereishope! Secondly, we need to follow the Lord in our mission not individually, but together as the disciplesdid.MissionisaneventoftheChurch.Wewillbetogetherinfailure,butwewillalso betogetherinlisteningtotheSpirit,inbeholdingGodsmiracles,andinhaulingthenetsto shore.Asitwasthen,soitistoday.Theordained,thereligiousandthelayfaithful,including nonCatholicChristianarecalledtoonemission,thoughinvariousstatesoflifeandwitha diversityofgifts.Whenwetakedifferentboatsandevencompeteagainsteachothertogetthe betterportionofthecatchforourownteams,wearenotengaginginmission.Divisivenessand destructive competition will only help sink the boat. Let us look to the one Shepherd who gathershissheepinsteadofscatteringthem.ItistheLord! Finally,letusturntothebeloveddisciple,thedisciplewhomJesusloved.Hewastheonewho recognizedtheLordwhohadlovedthembylayingdownhislifeonthecrossandnowasthe RisenOnewhocouldturnnightsofdespairintodawnsofhopebythepowerofHisWord.We realizethatthebeloveddiscipledoesnotoccupyanyknownrankamongthedisciples.Peter wasclearlytheleaderandspokespersonofthegroup.Mydearbrothersandsisters,thisepisode teachesmethatmerelyassumingthepositionofArchbishopofManiladoesnotguaranteethatI willrecognizetheLord.IfIamnotcarefulthispositionmightevenblindmetotheLordandto mypeople.ItisratherbybeingahumbledisciplecontentwiththeloveofJesusthatIwouldsee theadventofhimwhoselovepropelsustomission.Noticethatatthismomentthebeloved discipletaughtPeter.LaterJesuswouldaskPeterthreetimesifhelovedhimmorethanthe others.Lovemakesoneatrueshepherd,notposition.IpraythatmyEpiscopalministryandall ministries in the Church may be rooted in humble and loving discipleship. I tell myself as

thoughitweretheLordtellingme,Chito,donotthinkyouhavebecomegreatbecauseofyour newposition.BegreatratherinbeingabelovedandlovingdiscipleoftheLord. Thenarrativewehavebeenreflectingonservesasagooddescriptionofthemissionofthe Church: Discerning the Lords presence, following his word, celebrating his love and proclaiming It is the Lord. The Church cannot stop proclaiming the Word of God as the secondreadingsays.Inseasonandoutofseason,wedirectpeopletothepersonoftheLord. Evenifitisaninconvenienttruththatweareproclaiming,itisalwaystheLord.Loveyour enemiesisinconvenient.Sharewhatyouhavewiththepoorisinconvenient.Blessyour persecutorsisinconvenient.Butthroughtheseinconvenientwords,theLordcomes.Hespeaks. Hebringstruelight. AsIembarkonmynewministryasArchbishopofManila,Ifeeldeeplyunitedwiththemany beloveddiscipleswhohavetaughtmetorecognizetheLord::mylovingparentsManueland MilagrosandbrotherManuelJr.Theyhavealwaysprovidedahavenofloveandcommitment forme;myaunts,uncles,cousinsandclanwhoneverfailtonurtureme;myselflessandcaring teachers and mentors in St. Andrews School, the Ateneo de Manila University, the Loyola SchoolofTheology,theCatholicUniversityofAmericaandSanJoseSeminary;thededicated peopleofthecommissionsthatIhavebeenpartofintheCBCP,theFABC,andtheVatican;my formerstudents,seminarians,thereligiousandthepoor,thebelovedpoor,whohavetaughtme tobemoresensitivetothepresenceofJesuswhocallsmetomission.Yourlovehasenabledme toseetheLord.Thankyouverymuch.IrememberinaspecialwayBishopArtemioCasas, BishopFelixPerez,BishopManuelSobrevias,theclergy,thereligious,theseminariansandthe layfaithfuloftheDioceseofImus.Youhavelovedme.YouhavedirectedmetotheLord.Please remembermeaslovingyou. NowIfacemynewmissioninthisgreatArchdioceseofManilathatisrichintradition,culture, historyandreligiosity.ItremblebeforethelovethatcallsmetoleadthepeopletotheLord.But mypoorsinfulpersonfindsrestinHimwhoistheChurchstrueShepherd.Iamalsoconsoled toknowthatwewouldbebuildingonthelegacyoflovingserviceof31archbishops,notably thoseoftherecentpast:ArchbishopGabrielReyes,CardinalRufinoSantos,CardinalJaimeSin and my immediate predecessor, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales. As I look at the clergy, the religiousandfaithfuloftheArchdiocese,Ifeelhumbled.ThereismuchthatIwilllearnfrom you.Teachme.Bepatientwithme.Letusloveoneanotheratalltimes.Extendyourlovetoall, especiallythepoorandtotheChurchesinAsia.AsoneChurchwewilljourneytogetherevenif thenightislongandwearisome.WewillwelcometheevernewdawnwhoistheLord,thelight andtheshepherdoftheChurch.EverydaywillbeanadventoftheLord. WearestrengthenedbythematernalloveofMarywho480yearsagoappearedtothelowly JuanDiegoinGuadalupe.SheistheAdventwomanwhocomestothepoor;shewalkswith themindarkpaths;shebrings hope. Werejoicetohearagainherwords toJuanDiego,as thoughaddressedtous,Donotletanythingafflictyouanddonotbeafraidofanyillnessor accidentorpain.AmInotyourmother?Areyounotundermyshadowandprotection?Doyou needanythingelse?DoInotholdyouinthefoldsofmymantle,therewheremyarmsmeet

togetherandIcankeepyouclose?ToyoudearMotherIentrusttheChurchinManila,the ChurchinthePhilippines,theChurchesinAsia,theentireChurchandmyEpiscopalministry. Youcometous,asIhaveexperiencedsomanytimesandtenyearsagothisdaywhenIwas ordainedbishop.BringJesustous.TakeustoJesus.Intheneverendingadventoflifeand mission,helpustoseeyoursoncomingtousasourlovingshepherdtodispelallfear.Wehope forthedaywhentheChurchandthewholecreationwouldjoyfullydeclarewithonevoice,It istheLord!Amen.