By Fr. Nilo Belvis Macapinlac
Dear Christian friends and people of good will,
Prayerful greetings on this special month of our Philippine Independence and of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
June is the month of our Philippine Independence. This year, we celebrate 120 years of freedom from Spanish occupation, and that occupation ended on a day we should not forget, June 12, 1898. We were under Spanish rule for 333 years. God looked down with mercy upon our nation and bestowed our freedom and independence. What a gift and blessing to celebrate and to guard that gift of freedom and independence! God loves us so dearly and has chosen us to be the first Christian nation in the south east of Asia.
We need to look back and be grateful and move forward for a bright tomorrow. Those who do not learn from the history of our past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. This is evident in how many EDSA People Power revolutions have occurred in the midst of political crisis, crisis of leadership and good governance in our country.
The dictum “Vox populivox Dei” means “the voice of the people is the voice of God” but that is not always the case. God has chosen this group of islands, little above the equator to be Christianized by the Spanish missionaries first led by the Portuguese circum navigator of the world: Fernando Magallanes. The archipelago was named after the King of Spain, Philip II. From the non, the 7,107 islands were called the “Philippines” and the inhabitants came to be known as “Filipinos”. The Philippines looks like the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” and thus, Spain was delighted to colonize it not only because of its natural beauty and wonders but the richness of its natural resources.
With the Philippine population at approximately 120 million, hundreds of thousands emigrate to other countries looking for greener pastures. Filipinos are hardworking, dedicated, industrious, loyal and God-fearing people. Today, I salute all our temporary foreign workers who have been great contributors to the economic stability of our beloved country, the Philippines. Surely, they are the modern heroes and heroines who sacrificed themselves as they left their families and home for a dignified and decent living. What a love rooted in sacrifice!
We should be grateful to God who has given us the faith that leads us to a sense of direction in life and to a bright future. Above all, we are being led to a destiny that God has ushered us through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, that no one comes to the Eternal Father, except through Him. Through Him, heaven is our citizenship, our true homeland! All of us are pilgrims but not strangers to the Lord.
Filipinos are courageous and bold infighting for their rights. No wonder the color red on the national flag speaks eloquently of Filipino bravery that concludes in the national anthem: “Ang mamatay ng dahilsa ‘yo!” I salute our ancestors, heroes and heroines who fought for our freedom, independence, for peace and order for our land. Without our unsung heroes and brilliant leaders,we would not able to reach this point of history for our land, the 120th Philippine Independence.
Above all, let us not forget, the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the one who can bring us to true freedom, freedom from the tyranny of Satan, from slavery to sin, from death and eternal damnation. For through His death on the Cross and glorious resurrection He has brought us to true freedom as sons and daughters of God. New life has dawned, and a bright future awaits, brighter than the sun during the day!
True freedom was attained through Christ who sacrificed Himself as a ransom for many for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the whole world. This month of June we also commemorate the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, center of all hearts. It was pierced by a lance on that Good Friday, wounded for our sake out of His unconditional love for us.
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus burning for love for us and unceasingly consecrating us to the truth will never deceive Himself nor deceive us. Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is ushering us to enter into the glory of the Eternal Father. He who Himself is the fullness of truth will fulfill His promises to us. He Himself is the fullness of Divine Revelation: “If you have seen Me you have seen the eternal Father for the Father is in Me and I in the Father.” (c/o St John)
There are twelve promises of the Most Sacred Heart that we need to focus and meditate on not only on First Fridays but daily so that we may have life in abundance as Christ promised us. One of these moving promises of our Lord is that: “I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment” (Jesus to St. Margaret Mary).
Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted God’s love and sacrifice of His Son for all men and women with the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity was inexorably damned.
The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Saviour who died on the Cross for all humanity on Good Friday. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger.
The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the general calendar of the Church by Pius IX in 1856.
In my parish in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, we honor the Most Sacred Heart with fervent devotion not only on first Fridays but every hour prior to every Mass with humble adoration and benediction and twenty-four hours of exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the first Thursday and Friday of every month. This is a profound expression of our pious love for our God whose Heart was wounded by a lance and yet it is the great paradox that by his wounded Heart we are healed and by His death we are assured of a sure hope that in Christ we become new creation looking forward to eternal life and happiness.
Let us rejoice and celebrate the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this month of June with fervent devotion to the center of all hearts, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He invites us to learn from Him for He is gentle, meek and humble of heart. Happy feast day and may the merciful Heart of our Lord will never stop loving you and your respective families. May His grace and loving mercy abound in our faith communities here in our city of Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, and beyond.
As a dynamic and vibrant Filipino Community here in Canada, let us always be grateful for the workings of the Holy Spirit and the fire of the love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us continue to open wide the door of our homes, in a personal way, our hearts to Christ in the disguise of the strangers, the poor, the faint hearted, the destitute, the unemployed, the grieving and the needy. For in Christ, with Christ and through Christ nothing is impossible, to Him all honor, glory and praise now and forever. Amen.
“Indeed, for God so loved the world that He gave us His Only Begotten Son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, gentle, meek and humble of Heart, make our hearts like Yours!
In the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Fr. NiloMacapinlac, Pastor