By: N.J. Viehland
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s Easter Recollection was expecting a large crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last Sunday, April 21, but 9,000 people ? That is awesome.
More than the numbers, though, the mix of people I saw and spoke to was impressive: people in their 80’s, young adults in their 20’s, children, couples holding hands, nuns…
Outside the big arena, there was a lot of excitement, especially by the food stalls and tables for book and multi-media sales. Not surprising, the chatter included admiration and pride over how their cardinal was cited in the past month as possible next pope.
But inside the huge hall, especially while Cardinal Tagle spoke, all were still and quiet, interrupted periodically by bursts of laughter and applause. At one point when Cardinal Tagle shifted to a serious tone while challenging the audience to be missionaries and witness to Christ, he asked, why did you all suddenly get quiet?
Somehow, inside the big dome noted for big league and college basketball, pop concerts and the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, it seemed like everyone knew each other – like neighbors in one community.
Cardinal Tagle spoke in three parts:
Focusing on Christ’s instruction to the disciples to “Go to Galilee”, he reflected on “Galilees in our life” including the hurts and frustrations, fears and failures. Cardinal Tagle said as Jesus met the disciples in Galilee after resurrecting from the dead, he also meets us and stays with us in these places of hurt, frustration, fears and failures. He helps us to know more about Him. This prepares us to “go to the ends of the earth” to tell all people about God’s love and justice, by showing these to them in the way we live and relate with others.
Cardinal Tagle urged thousands of Catholics at the coliseum and many others listening on the radio to go out and serve in mission. [Click the link to read about it.]
Several people I spoke with said they felt “inspired” to become priests, or “challenged” to be patient and influential teachers.Finally, Cardinal Tagle celebrated Mass with Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, which covers Quezon City, and Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, JesCom director.
In the end, Cardinal Tagle directed the congregation to “go to the ends of the earth” and tell others about Christ.
Here are some of the things I saw while I was at Smart-Araneta Coliseum from 8:00-past 1 p.m.