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HOMILY


Most Rev. Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, D.D.

5th Archbishop of Caceres

Homily for Installation and Canonical Possession (part 2)

Metropolitan Cathedral of Caceres

Pilgrim City of Naga

May 2, 2024 9:00 a.m.


(continuation of Archbishop Alarcon’s Homily….)


The Office of Bishop as Shepherd


Yesterday at the Press Conference I was asked as to what type of leadership will I exercise. As I take Canonical Possession of the Archdiocese, the words of Jesus resound: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. (Cf. John 10:11-18)


It is this model of the Good Shepherd whom I wish to imitate. I pray that my pastoral care may rise up to the level of the Good Shepherd.


We can speak of levels of leadership. I outlined 7 stages.


Please pray that I may grow in this task. I may scale up. And we may examine ourselves –even as parents, elders, public and government servants, church leaders, youth leaders and ministers, educators, uniformed men and women, those in the practice of law and health care, engineering and architecture, computer, fishing and agriculture, commerce, music and the arts, sports, etc.


Level 1. Leading at level of survival. ‘Pamumuno na ang layon ay makaraos lang. Pamumuno na nagsasabing ‘puede na yan’. Leadership that has no dreams.


Level 2. Level of duty. The level of the hired hand. The leader who says: ‘Trabaho lang. Walang personalan.’ This is level of the hired hand.


Level 3. Level of joyful love and service. This is leadership that goes the extra mile.


Here begins leadership without expecting reward.


A leadership that does only maintain, but allows the sheep to grow.


The Second Reading from the Letter of Peter give this admonition: “Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.” (From the Letter of Peter)


Level 4. Level of compassion.


Here we do not take the sheep away from dangers, but we heal their wounds. We help them recover, rise again and flourish. This is taking care of the sheep that are deprived, suffering, ill, handicapped, abused, with preference for the weak and the poor.


A leadership that does not only protect but seeks the lost, heals the wounded, reconciles and restores.


Level 5. Level of mercy and forgiveness. Leadership that does not stop at doing good even to those who do not love us, inimical to us; those who have wronged us; those who persecute us. This is where loving and service is painful. This is the level of the suffering servant. Looking for the lost sheep. Because it is easier for them to be out of the picture. They only bring us pain, stress, headaches, heartaches.


Level 6. Level of self-donation. This is the level of martyrdom. This is the level of the lamb of God. The pastor becomes the lamb to be offered. And this is the level of full configuration to Jesus.


In levels five and six, we expect pain and suffering. I pray to Jesus on the Cross. Help to continue to love and serve, even when there is pain. As the Gospel reminds us: “The greatest among you must be your servant.” Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (See Matthew 23:11-12)


Three Requests for Prayer


Dear Brothers and Sisters, may I request you to pray for these three intentions:


1. That I may stay close to the Good Shepherd and the flock, so that his vision becomes my vision; his path is the way I should walk; my values, method, style, approaches may be patterned after His. That I may have the heart of the Good Shepherd. So that “I may not ‘seek yours but you.’


2. That I may have the availability and trust, patience and perseverance of a Mary. So that I may not seek my own, but those who are entrusted to me.


3. I may have the obedience, courage and generosity of Joseph. Joseph stayed with Mary at one of the most difficult moments of her life. May the Lord grant that I faithfully and joyfully serve the flock even at the most difficult moments.


Leadership from the Standpoint of Weakness


Dear Brothers and Sisters, I come to exercise leadership not from a position of strength. I come, or return, still as a humble servant of the Lord.


Leadership in today’s circumstances call us to harness our human qualities in leading the flock– to lead from our vulnerability instead of pretending to be perfect; to lead with empathy and not from insensitive intelligence or arrogant competence; to lead with compassion and mercy and not from false righteousness; to lead with humility and not from oppressive strength; to lead with kindness rather than with overbearing rigidity.


This is a tall standard, I am aware. And to exercise leadership from a standpoint of weakness, may be, to the view of others, foolish. Yet not from the God’s vantage point. He chooses the weak, to show forth his power of his grace. Again St. Paul says: In our weakness, is the strength of God. (Cf. 2 Cor 12:9-10) This is to lead in humility, always conscious that “it is not I, but the Lord.”


There are those who ask, ‘what will you do as an Archbishop.’ Saint Francis of Assisi has a beautiful reply, and I borrow it. He said: “First do what is necessary. Then do what is possible. And before you know it you are doing the impossible.” “Enot giboha an dapat gibohon. Dangan an possible asin puede. Pakatapos, mahihiling ta nagigibo na niato an imposible” sa tabang kan grasya ni Mahal na Diyos. If we remain in Jesus, as branches to a vine (Cf. John 15:1-11), there is nothing impossible with God (Cf. Luke 1:37). And only if we remain in Jesus can we bear fruit.


Conclusion: ‘Servus Tuus Sum’


Dear Brothers and Sisters, once again, thank you sincerely for your prayers, support and friendship. Please pray that I keep in mind that while I am not the owner of the sheep, but I can take care of them as my own. And like the Good Shepherd, I will not escape when the wolves come. And that I may also be able to offer my life for the sheep.


Thank you sincerely, your Eminence, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters! Your kindness, solidarity, friendship and concern, are a much encouragement and inspiration for me so that I may truly live up to the motto: ‘Servus Tuus Sum’.


I come as a humble servant of the Lord. May God bless us all!

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