My brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, the patron saint of the Cathedral is St. John the Evangelist. He was one of the writers of the story of the resurrection of Jesus. This evening, I am asking your pardon because instead of reflecting on the Gospel according to St. Matthew that was just read, we will review the story by our patron, St. John the Evangelist, on the resurrection of Christ.
I like very much the story of St. John because you know that in each letter of the Gospel, the writer loved Jesus very much. According to him, Mary Magdalene was the first person who went to the tomb. And the question of Mary Magdalene is our same question: Where is the Lord? Where is God? Did God abandon the world? Where is the Lord? Why does the transmission of the virus not stop even if we keep on praying?
Why are the infections not decreasing even if we keep on praying? Where is God? On the other hand, our question, “Where is God?” is better because Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus who was dead. We believe that God is alive and we are looking for God, who is alive.
Where is the Lord? He is alive, isn’t He? Why are we in this situation? He is alive, isn’t He? Why are we praying even if it seems that we are not heard? Where is the Lord, why can we not see Him? Hundreds of years have passed since St. Augustine was also asked: Why can’t we see God? Why doesn’t God show Himself? He answered: “Because we are blind. It is not because God does not like to be seen; it is because we are persons with disabilities. We are disabled by sin, that is why we are not able to see the Lord.”
Why can’t we see God? Because we are blind. We don’t have the ability to see Him, not because He is hiding but because we really don’t have the ability. We remember the book of Genesis when our first parents ate the forbidden fruit. What happened? Their eyes were opened and they recognized they were naked. That is what sin does, it opens our eyes to more sins. That is what sin does, it blinds us to paradise. It blinds us to the presence of God.
Mary Magdalene’s question is the question of anguish of the whole world today. Almost 160 countries with coronavirus are living in fear. Where is God? And the answer is: He is there but we do not see Him because we were blinded by sin and are blind to sin up to this day. And Mary Magdalene continued to ask the question. Not (?) realizing He was the gardener, she told the gardener: “Tell me where the Lord is and I will get Him.”
My dear brothers and sisters, who is the gardener in our lives? You may not see God in times of need but instead of talking with God, you spoke with the gardener. We are not belittling the gardener because the truth is each of us is a gardener, perhaps even lower than a gardener. We are all gardeners in the sense that we are in need but instead of talking with God, we talk with the gardener. What does this mean? Instead of calling on God, we use guns. Instead of asking God’s forgiveness, we use bullets. Instead of calling on God, we befriend communist countries.
We only need one thing – cling to God!
As of today, after only a few months, hundreds of Filipinos have died. We are so afraid because we may be infected, but when the drug addicts were killed, did we complain? Did you cry? We did cling to the gardener of bullets! We held on to the gardener who befriended countries that do not believe in God. That is our gardener! We thought that we could solve our problems by talking and befriending the gardener.
No! The solution to our present predicament is to talk with God! The solution is to cling to God, not to money, not to fists, not to guns, not through intimidation, not through threats, but to full confidence and faith in God! My dear brothers and sisters, Mary Magdalene invites us (to ask): Where is God? This is also our question: Who is the gardener in our life?
And the third question written by the loving disciple said that God (asked): “Who are you looking for? What are you looking for?” Brothers and sisters, what are you looking for this Easter? Who are you looking for? The students want to graduate. The young professionals want to get married. The married ones want to be successful. You want to be protected from sickness.
We cannot graduate now. We cannot get married now. We cannot have baptism. Who do you look for? What do you want? Some of us have only one dream: “Lord, I do not want to die of coronavirus without saying goodbye to my loved ones, and to be cremated immediately. Not so, Lord.”
What do you look for? Who are you looking for? But the Lord spoke and said, “Mary.” Mary. The Lord called her by name with much love, with much tenderness; and Mary’s grief melted and became excitement and joy because she was called by name. Who do you look for? What do you look for? What do you like? Do you want to be successful? You want to be rich? You want to be popular? You want to be respected by everybody? You want to be protected from sickness? You want to be protected from lonely death? You should only ask the Lord for one thing: “Lord, when my time comes, please call me by my name. I want to hear Your voice calling me by name as you did Mary, as you called Mary. That’s all, Lord.”
All the money, all the popularity, all the power is unimportant, not important. I only dream that one day the Lord will say “Soc” and I will hear it with much love that I have never been loved before. That was what Mary received. She was called by name with much love that she has never received before. That should be our only dream. All the others are unimportant because what does it matter if you are rich, if you are popular, if you are feared, but you will never be able to hear the loving voice calling you by name.
In the life of St. Therese of Jesus, she said that she went down the stairs of the convent one morning and saw a small child inside the cloister. She was surprised because there was a child inside the convent, and she was delighted. She told the child, “Good morning, I am Therese of Jesus. What is your name?” and the Child said, “I am Jesus of Therese.”
All of us have been named after Jesus. I am Socrates of Jesus. You are Joseph of Jesus. You are Karl of Jesus. But tonight, the Lord says to you, “I am Jesus of Socrates; I am Jesus of Joseph; I am Jesus of you.” That is all that matters.
Three questions tonight. Where is my Lord? Before you ask Him and confront Him, “Where are you, Lord?” First say to Him, “Lord, I want to see (you). I want to be pure of heart because the pure of heart will be able to see you and I will not complain anymore. If you are the gardener, please tell me where He is.” Who are the gardeners solving your problems? Who are the gardeners that you cling to? Only one thing is required: Talk to the Lord.
Who do you look for? What do you look for? Just pray and ask The Lord to give you the grace that when the time comes, He will call you by name, with much love that you have never been loved before.