My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
We stand here this afternoon on a spot which many would call’’ hallowed ground.’’ Great, shining moments of our history took place here: moment of faith and courage, moments of gentleness and hope. Moments of our people will long remember, hopefully, forever remember.
We look around us, and a flood of images fills our minds and raises a drumbeat in our hearts. Images like those we find in father Reuter’s book PEOPLE POWER . . .
How many people have told me, again and again, that here, at EDSA and Ortigas, at Santolan and White Plains, on their knees, with anguished hearts, they truly felt the presence of God with them. God with them, God truly with them, Emmanuel. And ever beside them, the gentle presence of Mary. One father of a family told me, not many days afterwards: ‘’We were there, Cardinal Sin, my wife and I, and all our, children, even the little one. We prayed, O, how we prayed! And we knew Our Lady was with us, by our side. God was there, with us, around us, and in our hearts. How did we know this? How can I explain that? I will not try. But we were so sure of it. God was truly with all of us, and with that sea of people all around us.’’ That is why I am really happy to be here this afternoon. This ceremony is a beautiful event of Faith, a wonderful moment for the heart of our Filipino people. We have laid the cornerstone of a shrine which, I hope, will become in time one of the holy places in our country where people will want to come and pray. A shrine will rise here, which will stand as an act of gratitude to God for being Emmanuel to us, in those 100 hours. Our saving God, our compassionate God, who heard the cries of his people. Hundreds of years ago . . . our forefathers accepted the God of Jesus as their God, when the missionaries told them about him. And this God ratified his covenant with us his people by granting us the gift of non-violence in our hearts and hands, the gifts of peace willed and won. Thus, this shrine is our Simbahan ng Pasasalamat, ng Pagkakaisa, Dambana ng Kapayapaan. Here is the Church where we celebrate peace among our brothers and sisters: the gift of reconciliation and unity at last. Here, for years and years to come, we pledge to gather and dedicate and re-dedicate our nation to Our Lord, the King of Peace. Here we will entrust our people, again and again, to our Blessed Mother, the Queen of peace.
On this spot we will build a tall image of Mary with her Immaculate Heart and her rosary, visible for all to see. Mary will look down the highway ‘’where the saints went marching in,’’ EDSA. As people pass they can look up at her and say a prayer for our people, for peace in our land. Seeing her, future generations will remember what Our Lady gave us, after the Marian year.
On this spot too will rise a chapel of perpetual adoration, where throughout the day we hope hundreds of people will come to pray to the Lord in the Eucharist. Here Our Lord will ‘’say stay with us’’ in his dwelling-place where we can visit him. From here he will strengthen us with his presence and his mercy. Let me end, if I may, with a story known (surely) to many of you. It is recounted that King David was looking for a place to build his temple. One day, tired from wandering, he fell asleep under a tree in the middle of a large farm. And in his sleep, an angel told him the story of that farm and that tree which sheltered him. It seems there were two brothers, both good and kindly men. One was married and had many children. The other was a widower, who was childless.
After the harvest, one year, the barn of the two brothers were filled to overflowing. It has been a good year.
One night, the married brother said to himself: ‘’Why should I have such a full barns? I don’t need all this wealth. I have a good wife and many fine sons, who will take care of me even in old age. My brother is a widower, and has no children, no one to take care of him when he shall be old.’’ So that night he took a cart, and filled it full with grain, and under cover of darkness, transported the grain to his brother’s barn. Night after night, he did this.
The widower brother, meanwhile, said to himself: ‘’Why should I keep such full barns? I don’t need all this wealth. I am alone, I live alone; there is no one to inherit my possessions after my death. While my brother had so many to provide for – a wife and many children.’’ So that night he too took a cart, and filled it to overflowing with grain, and under darkness, transported the grain to his brother’s barn. Night after night, he did this.
Many weeks went by, and both brothers were perplexed, because – after transporting so much grain from their own barns, the quantity of grains never seems to grow less. They kept wondering what was happening, until one night beside the very tree under which king David was resting, each brother met the other pushing a cart filled with grain. The two bumped into each other, and seeing, they understood. With tears, they embraced each other. With tears, because each brother knew with how much love each one cared for the other, and how much goodness and affection there was in each one’s heart.
At that point of the story, King David awoke. And he said, ‘’Here I build my temple, on this farm, on the very site where this tree stands. This is a sacred place. Because where there is so much love, surely God must already be there.’’
And so, this afternoon, recalling the great shining events with took place here, we too will build our shrine. Because here brother met brother, with so much faith in each other, and hope in each other, and love. Here clenched fists gave way to gifts of flowers, and flowers turned to prayer, and heart spoke to heart. And God answered the prayer of his people. Surely this place must be holy, for God was here. God is here. And here shall rise a temple where we shall forever remember the love of brothers and sisters, the priceless gift our people gave to all the world. And Mary will stand at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas, to show the Prince of Peace to generations of Filipinos yet to come, throughout this city, across the nation, across the length and breadth of our beloved land.