CARDINAL SIN: Man of Courage, Compassion and Charity
(Homily delivered by Bishop Socrates B. Villegas of Diocese of Balanga during the Mass for the first death anniversary of His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin at the Manila Cathedral on June 21, 2006 at 9 a.m.)
His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin served the Archdiocese of Manila for 29 years, almost two generations. For many of our college students, for many of our young people, they have only known one cardinal, Cardinal Sin. And when we spoke of the Cardinal it always referred to the one who lived at Villa San Miguel.
Cardinal served us for 29 years. Today, we remember, we remember not only the 29 years that he generously gave to the Archdiocese of Manila. We remember his whole life that he so graciously gave us. Each year that he gave us, he gladly gave us. Of Cardinal Sin, what do we remember?
Let us reflect on his being Cardinal. The Cardinal’s color is always red. Red like the color of the Philippine flag. Red like the color of martyrs. And he stayed faithful to the red of his cardinalate with his courage. He was a courageous man and he inspired us to be courageous as well. At the Jaime Cardinal Sin village at Punta, Sta. Ana, national artist Willie Abueva, did a monument in honor of Cardinal Sin. Go there and see that the image of Cardinal Sin is standing at the tip of a diving board, a dangerous place to be. He was standing at the tip of a diving board that is rough, that is risky to go to and yet he was there with his smiling eyes saying, “Do not be afraid, if I can do it, you can do it.”
Courage. Courage, which does not come from bravery but courage, which comes from his deep faith in God. Because he knew that if God is with us who can ever be against us.
Courage. Courage, which gained for him the admiration of the world. Courage is his legacy to all of us. The red of the Cardinal is also the red of compassion that is why the agency for compassion is Red Cross. That cross is red because red is the color of compassion. But compassion is not simply to give something to those who are in need. Compassion is with passion. He served us with passion. Passion not only in the sense of enthusiasm, but of passion, which is the passion of Christ prior to his death. He served as he suffered. And he suffered because he chose to serve.
Compassion. He taught us to be compassionate with the poor, with the marginalized, with the least, the last and the lost. He was not original because he only learned his compassion from the Lord of compassion himself, Jesus Christ, who had compassion for the sheep, because they were lost and they had no shepherd to guide them.
Compassion, my dear brothers and sisters, is the red of the cardinal. Compassion, which is willingness to suffer, courageously, cheerfully for those he loved. But last of all, the red of the cardinalate is for the red of Valentines Day. It is not the love of Cupid to his arrow but it is rather the love of the man crucified for us, because the perfect symbol of love is not Cupid with his arrow on Valentines Day. The perfect symbol of love is Christ hanging on the cross on Good Friday. And Cardinal Sin taught us that. He taught us charity not only love, not only Eros but agape. And there is no greater love, there is no greater agape than to lay down your life for your friends.
In the last years of his life brothers and sisters, you and I saw and experienced the sufferings of the man we are remembering today. We saw the signs of his debilitating ailment. I had advised him many times to stay at home because it was getting for me personally a very humiliating experience to go out in public, for him to be carried around, to be pushed in a chair and to be unable to stand. But, he always found his way into our events, into our Eucharist, into every celebration, even to our rallies. Why? Because for somebody who loves much nothing is impossible. For somebody who loves much, there is no limit to what you can do because the greater measure of love is to love without measure.
Cardinal Sin is dead. Dead for one year now. And as I say that sentence to you, I feel a throb in my heart and a lump in my throat, but you have to accept it, he has died. He died a year ago but we must not, we must never allow courage to die in the Philippines. We must never allow courage to die out in the Church. We must never allow compassion to be deemed with practicality. We must take courage and be ready to suffer as we serve and serve as we suffer. Cardinal Sin is dead but the charity and the service for which he lived must never be allowed to die.
Courage, compassion, charity. He has given his best to show us fine examples. It is our turn to follow the footsteps that he has left behind. This coming together this morning is not only a memorial. Let it be a challenge because we need courage. We need more compassion and charity must always prevail. Amen.