BBC: An aerial view of Rizal Park shows the millions attending Mass
In front of 6 million people gathered in the recent historic mass gathered in Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, asked Pope Francis: “Here in Luneta, the Quirino Grandstand, where heroes are revered, where newly elected presidents take office, and popes meet the Filipino people, here in this place of new beginnings, please, Holy Father, send us as your missionaries of light. Send us.
Before you go, Holy Father, send us, your beloved Filipinos, to spread the light of Jesus, and wherever you see the light of Jesus shining, even in Rome, even in Santa Marta, remember: the Filipino people are with you in spreading the light of Jesus."
As an opening salvo to His public ministry, Jesus proclaimed the good news of God. In the olden times, good news meant an enthronement of a new king but when Jesus announced His good news, His message was not just about a king but the coming of the kingdom of God. His very first spoken words in the gospel of St. Mark were “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is close at hand.” Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom marked the fulfillment not just of the longings of the Old Testament but the whole world as well. When He did this, He also proclaimed that He Himself is the personification of that kingdom, He is the auto-basilea!
After the proclamation, came the invitation to repent and believe in the good news. To concretise this, St. Mark presents the calling of the first disciples. The first disciples who were called were two sets of brothers: Simon and Andrew, James and John. They were fishermen who later on will be called fishers of men. There was an urgency both in the call and the response; immediately they abandoned their boats and their fathers. Nothing was written about their verbal response, their feelings, no questions were asked but one thing was certain: they left everything and followed Jesus. Jesus’ call demands immediate and complete obedience.
The call of Jesus this time is not just about young men becoming priests, missionaries being sent to missions, young ladies entering the convents or monasteries. He meets us in the different shores of our lives, where we live, where we work, in all our goodness and sinfulness. There is a universal call to holiness addressed to everyone: Catholics, Muslims, Jews, even those who have and will never hear the name of Jesus. But wherever we come from, we have to “break off” (metanoeite) from the old self to welcome the Kingdom of God in our hearts. Yet this conversion is not a one-time-off experience, it continues through life. To some this means leaving homes and families, parting away from loved ones, giving up dreams and life’s securities. Although the responses of some are more radical than others, our following of Jesus takes a lifetime to fulfill. Our big YES is lived out in the little yeses of the ordinariness of our lives. Jesus does not expect of us to do the impossible as long as we continue to follow him. That’s what discipleship is: To follow Jesus where he would send us.
Cardinal Tagle assured Pope Francis: Every Filipino wants to go with you – not to Rome – but to the peripheries. We want to go with you to the shanties, to the prison cells, to hospitals, to the world of politics, finance, arts, the sciences, culture, education, and social communication. We will go to those worlds with you to bring the light of Christ.