Pasang Awa Lang!

Bobon, happy birthday. Happy 34th birthday! One year older when Christ died on the cross. This may well be your best birthday from since the time you were born. There may have been birthdays that were lonely. There may have been birthdays that were just okay. But how can one feel lonely on a day like this? How can this day be considered just okay…when this day is filled with the grace of God. Next year, July 18 will hold a different meaning. Next year, this day will not just be the day your mother gave birth to you. Next year, this day shall also be the day that you were re-born from the side of Jesus.

From the side of Christ, you are born as a priest.

You will never be able to understand the meaning of this day because the mystery of the priesthood cannot be understood here on earth. Because if you would understand the mystery of what you are going through this morning, you would die before you even receive the grace. Because your head…your body…your heart is too small to contain the immensity of God’s love for you.

We travel far to hear you say one word.

We want to hear you say ‘yes’.

I know, Bon, that your ‘yes’ need cleansing. I know that you know in yourself that your ‘yes’ to the Lord felt weak. This is what brought us to this day. This ‘yes’ needed strengthening.  This ‘yes’ needed clarifying. This ‘yes’ needed purifying but we do not talk about the past anymore. We only talk about the grace of this beautiful day.

It is not a yes coming from your loved ones. This is not a yes to your mother’s dream for you. This is not a yes to Pia’s prayers. This is not a yes because Father said so. This is a yes because Bon believes that Jesus already gave His ‘yes’ to me and it is now my turn to give my answer to the Lord and I will also give my yes to Him.

Bon, you did not choose the priesthood. The priesthood chose you. You did not choose the SVD. The SVD chose you. And you are here not to apply. You are here not to prove yourself.

You are here to only say – Yes, I accept the invitation.

Yes, I know my ‘yes’ is not as perfect as the ‘yes’ of Jesus but I will just keep on trying.

I will just keep on trying.

Today, you give your yes to the Lord.

You give your yes to the SVD.

You give your yes to the church.

You give your yes…100 percent yes.

No conditions. No doubts.

No reservations. A whole-hearted ‘Yes, Lord!’.

But you know what, Bon…even if you don’t verbalize it, you saying ‘yes’ will only be proven by you saying ‘no’.

You cannot be faithful to your yes if you are not courageous to say ‘no’.

As you say yes to the Lord…as you say yes to the Church…you also say this morning – ‘No more Amadeo.’ Because it is now ‘Kenya, yes’. As you say ‘yes’ to the Lord, you also say – No more girlfriend. No more children to carry my name. No more career. No more job. No more… because all of these, I leave behind in order to follow the Lord. Because you are now holding the plough of the Lord. Your direction is to move forward. You cannot hold the plough and look back. You cannot answer God’s call and keep on looking back. Because in looking back you also say yes to the ugly past. No more, no more. It is only in giving yes to the Lord that you will find peace. But it is only in saying no to so many people, so many things that you will also prove your yes.

In the past, Bon, your mother said yes on your behalf. Your godparents said yes on your behalf on the day you were baptized. They say yes to the priesthood and that is why you needed to clarify that aspect of your life. But I want to assure you, Bon…as you say no to the Lord, there will also be people who will say no on your behalf. The Adoration Sisters who look at the Lord day and night…adoring the Blessed Eucharist. They also say no. They also pray that you will courageous to say no. People will sacrifice for you. People you will never be able meet in your lifetime. They will pray for you as a missionary. They will fast for you as a missionary. They will offer sacrifices for you. Your parents will endure the loneliness of missing you. They also will say no.

For all the people who will say no so that you will be faithful, say to them – Thank you! For all the people who will sacrifice, who will remain hidden, who will stay longer on their knees because of you…say to the Lord  – Thank you! Because you would not be able to reach this day if there were no people who sacrificed for you quietly, who said no so that you will be courageous to say no, who said no so that you will be generous to say yes. Bon, this is not only your yes. This is the yes of so many people. This is not only your no to the Philippines…to your career…to your future family…this is also the no of so many people sacrificing, fasting, offering vigils, praying quietly so that you will be who you are.

But I want to assure you, Bon, in the next days, weeks or months, looking at the video of your ordination, looking at the pictures of this beautiful day will bring you joy…will strengthen your yes…will give you the courage to say no no no no. But there will be time, maybe in Kenya or in another continent or in another part of the world or maybe in the middle of the ocean, when you would be tempted to ask – Was that the right decision>

Is mission really for me? Is the priesthood really for me?

I have said no to so many things and I’m tired.

I have sacrificed so many things and I am still sacrificing.

I have given my best. Why am I getting the worst?

There will be times, Bon, in the future, I hope not so soon, when the people you serve will be ungrateful. When the confers, who are your brothers, will be unsupportive. When the church, your mother, will seem to be uncaring. When the time comes, Bon, when looking at your ordination pictures will not bring you excitement anymore but pain…when the time comes when watching the video will bring you questions and confusion instead of encouragement and hope…when that time comes and you’re tempted to quit…

Please call. We can talk together. We can talk to God together.

Because the third most important word on your ordination day after ‘yes’, after ‘no’ the most important word is ‘Awa ng Diyos’ (Mercy of God).

You will be able to say yes only because of the Mercy of God to you. And you will constantly say no without getting tired of sacrifice without getting cynical or skeptical about your celibacy.

Only by the Mercy of God. In the end, Bon, it is not Bon but Jesus.

It is not Bobon. It is Jesus.

It is not your willpower but the power of the Lord. It is not your courage but the courage that Jesus will breathe on you. It is not about your generosity but the generosity of Jesus at Calvary.

Yes and thank you.

For your ‘no’ we say we admire you for trusting in the ‘Awa ng Diyos’. We say to you, Bon, we are in this together. And we are here today only by the Mercy of God (Awa ang Diyos). Do not be ashamed even if they say that you barely made it (pasang awa) because all of us have barely made it. When Jesus saw us, we were all zeroes. But those zero marks were cancelled and replaced with a score of 100. Not because we passed but because of His mercy. Arm in arm, we hold each other…full of trust…hand in hand…leaning on each other…by the mercy of God. Amen.

Bobon, happy birthday. Happy 34th birthday! Isang taon mas matanda kay Hesus nung mamatay si Hesus. Ito na siguro yung pinakamagandang birthday mo simula ng ikaw ay ipanganak. Mayroong mga birthday na malungkot ka. Mayroong mga birthday na okay lang. Pero paano ka magiging malungkot sa araw na ito? Paanong magiging okay lang ang araw na ito…samantalang punong-puno ka ng biyaya ng Diyos sa araw na ito. Sa isang taon, iba na ang ibig sabihin ng July 18. Sa isang taon, hindi lang ito araw kung kailan ka iniluwal ni Nanay. Sa isang taon, ito na rin ang araw kung saan iniluwal ka ng tagiliran ni Hesus.

From the side of Christ, you are born as a priest.

You will never be able to understand the meaning of this day because the mystery of the priesthood cannot be understood here on earth. Because if you would understand the mystery of what you are going through this morning, you would die before you even receive the grace. Because your head…your body…your heart is too small to contain the immensity of God’s love for you.

Nagbiyahe kami kung saan-saan para pakinggan ang isang salita mula sa iyo.

We want to hear you say ‘yes’.

Alam ko, Bon, na kailangang linisin itong yes na ito. Alam ko na nakita mong mahina ang ‘oo’ mo sa Panginoon. Kaya dumating tayo sa araw na ito. This ‘yes’ needed strengthening.  This ‘yes’ needed clarifying. This ‘yes’ needed purifying but we do not talk about the past anymore. We only talk about the grace of this beautiful day.

It is not a yes coming from your loved ones. Hindi ito yes sa pangarap ni Nanay. Hindi ito yes sa dasal nina Pia. Hindi ito yes dahil sabi ni Father. Ito ay yes kasi naniniwala si Bon na ibinigay na ni Hesus ang ‘yes’ Niya sa akin at ako naman sasagot kay Hesus at ibibigay ko din ang aking ‘yes’ sa Kanya.

Bon, you did not choose the priesthood. The priesthood chose you. You did not choose the SVD. The SVD chose you. And you are here not to apply. You are here not to prove yourself.

You are here to only say – Yes, I accept the invitation.

Yes, I know my ‘yes’ is not as perfect as the ‘yes’ of Jesus but I will just keep on trying.

I will just keep on trying.

Today, you give your yes to the Lord.

You give your yes to the SVD.

You give your yes to the church.

You give your yes…100 percent yes.

Walang kondisyon. Walang agam-agam.

Walang reserba para sa sarili. Buong-buong ‘Yes, Lord!’.

Pero alam mo, Bon…kahit hindi mo sasabihin, kailangan yung ‘yes’ mo mapatunayan mo sa pamamagitan ng iyong ‘no’.

You cannot be faithful to your yes if you are not courageous to say ‘no’.

As you say yes to the Lord…as you say yes to the Church…you also say this morning – ‘No more Amadeo.’ Because it is now ‘Kenya, yes’. As you say ‘yes’ to the Lord, you also say – No more girlfriend. No more children to carry my name. No more career. No more job. No more… because all of these, I leave behind in order to follow the Lord. Because you are now holding the plough of the Lord. Your direction is to move forward. You cannot hold the plough and look back. You cannot answer God’s call and keep on looking back. Because in looking back you also say yes to the ugly past. No more, no more. It is only in giving yes to the Lord that you will find peace. But it is only in saying no to so many people, so many things that you will also prove your yes.

In the past, Bon, your mother said yes on your behalf. Your godparents said yes on your behalf on the day you were baptized. They say yes to the priesthood and that is why you needed to clarify that aspect of your life. But I want to assure you, Bon…as you say no to the Lord, there will also be people who will say no on your behalf. The Adoration Sisters who look at the Lord day and night…adoring the Blessed Eucharist. They also say no. They also pray that you will courageous to say no. People will sacrifice for you. People you will never be able meet in your lifetime. They will pray for you as a missionary. They will fast for you as a missionary. They will offer sacrifices for you. Your parents will endure the loneliness of missing you. They also will say no.

For all the people who will say no so that you will be faithful, say to them – Thank you! For all the people who will sacrifice, who will remain hidden, who will stay longer on their knees because of you…say to the Lord  – Thank you! Because you would not be able to reach this day if there were no people who sacrificed for you quietly, who said no so that you will be courageous to say no, who said no so that you will be generous to say yes. Bon, this is not only your yes. This is the yes of so many people. This is not only your no to the Philippines…to your career…to your future family…this is also the no of so many people sacrificing, fasting, offering vigils, praying quietly so that you will be who you are.

But I want to assure you, Bon,in the next days, weeks or months, looking at the video of your ordination, looking at the pictures of this beautiful day will bring you joy…will strengthen your yes…will give you the courage to say no no no no. But there will be time, maybe in Kenya or in another continent or in another part of the world or maybe in the middle of the ocean, when you would be tempted to ask – Was that the right decision>

Is mission really for me? Is the priesthood really for me?

I have said no to so many things and i’m tired.

I have sacrificed so many things and I am still sacrificing.

I have given my best. Why am I getting the worst?

There will be times, Bon, in the future, I hope not so soon, when the people you serve will be ungrateful. When the confers, who are your brothers, will be unsupportive. When the church, your mother, will seem to be uncaring. When the time comes, Bon, when looking at your ordination pictures will not bring you excitement anymore but pain…when the time comes when watching the video will bring you questions and confusion instead of encouragement and hope…when that time comes and you’re tempted to quit…

Please call. We can talk together. We can talk to God together.

Because the third most important word on your ordination day after ‘yes’, after ‘no’ the most important word is ‘Awa ng Diyos’.

You will be able to say yes only because of the Mercy of God to you. And you will constantly say no without getting tired of sacrifice without getting cynical or skeptical about your celibacy.

Only by the Mercy of God. In the end, Bon, it is not Bon but Jesus.

It is not Bobon. It is Jesus.

It is not your willpower but the power of the Lord. It is not your courage but the courage that Jesus will breathe on you. It is not about your generosity but the generosity of Jesus at Calvary.

Yes and thank you.

For your ‘no’ we say we admire you for trusting in the ‘Awa ng Diyos’. We say to you, Bon, magkasama tayo. Kaya lang tayo nandidito dahil sa Awa ang Diyos. Huwag kang mahiya kung sabihin nilang si Bon ay pasang awa kasi tayong lahat pasang awa ng Diyos. Nang makita tayo ni Hesus, zero naman tayong talaga. Pero kinansel yung zero natin at ginawang 100. Hindi dahil nakapasa kundi dahil kinaawaan. Kami’y kapit bisig kasama ka. Tiwalang-tiwala…kapit na kapit…sandal na sandal…sa Awa ng Diyos. Amen.

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