Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

True Greatness

A Homily delivered on the Feast of St. Albert the Great at the UST Central Seminary
15 November 2013

Last November 10, we celebrated the feast of St. Pope Leo the Great. He is the first pope to be called “Great”. Imagine this great pope persuading the ferocious Attila the Hun in 452 to turn back from his invasion of Italy…and he succeeded. And today, we are celebrating another saint who is called “Great”…St. Albert the Great. He wasn’t a pope but he was considered the most learned man of his time. In fact, he was the teacher of someone whom many considered as the greatest theologian of all time, St. Thomas Aquinas.

A friend from Rome jokingly told me that if you want to be intelligent, study Philosophy; if you want to be holy, study Theology; but, if you want to be both holy and intelligent, study Canon Law because you cannot enroll in Canon Law unless you finish both Philosophy and Theology. Well, his statements are highly debatable…but St. Albert the Great is not just holy, he is not just intelligent…he is dubbed as the “wisest among the saints and the most saintly of the wise.”

And for all that I have said so far, I want to say that TRUE GREATNESS is not always something visible … it can be, but not necessarily. What do I mean? Well, what ultimately matters is not how the world, or even the church, perceives us but how God sees us. Jesus said that those who are great in the eyes of the world are those who are with power, those who make their influence felt…and He told His disciples that the greatest among them must be the servant of all. Then, He literally showed them how by washing their feet at the Last Supper and dying for them and for all of us on the cross. That is true greatness! St. Paul wrote: “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing… Faith, hope, love remain, these three, [tria haec], but the greatest of this is love.” (1 Cor 13:1-3, 13)

I’ve been travelling around the country to facilitate the entrance examinations for the UST Central Seminary…and I’ve been meeting many great persons, your rectors, your deans of studies, your seminarians and other priests in your respective dioceses. I’ve been to Tandag and the newly ordained Fr. Alvin toured me around…I went to Capiz…and met my classmates who are doing great in their respective apostolate …I’ve been to Cebu and the seminarians even sang for me. Fr. Benny Tao is a great musician….I’ve been to Cagayan de Oro and I met Fr. Junbals and I was assisted by Sem. Quevedo who reminded me that CDO is peaceful melting pot of all cultures: Christians, Moslems, Lumads…that is why it is called the “City of Golden Friendship”…I went to Tagum…and during the celebration of the diaconate ordination, I looked at the faces of Rev. Lechido and Rev. Autida…and after the laying of hands, their faces glowed…I might be wrong in my perception but I felt it is the manifested grace that they just received. Next stop would be Bacolod, Dumaguete, Surigao, Vigan and Baguio. I know that I would be meeting great persons as well.

You know what I noticed, most of the Thomasian priests are serving as chancellors, formators, or deans of studies and all other important positions in their dioceses. Thomasian priests are competent and inspiring. In the future you will be put to those positions of greatness as well…Who knows? Sem. Vibar might be a chancellor…Sem. Laingo might be a formator…Sem. Palado might be the dean of studies…Sem. Janaban might be a monsignor…Sem. Sa-onoy might be Bishop S. Who knows?

You are formed today but we must always remember that to be truly GREAT…one must be humble in service and must always be in love, love that emanates from Christ, the true Source of greatness. With that, we invoke the teacher of St. Thomas…St. Albert the Great, pray for us!

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