Ninoy Aquino: A fallen grain on tarmac bears fruit
Editor’s Note: The following is the homily for the 31st death anniversary of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. delivered by Fr. Arnaldo Zamora, parish priest of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in San Francisco, California, during a Mass held at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 20.)
Each year, we gather at the Philippine Consulate to celebrate two special events that are somehow connected or related to each other.
In fact, our country, the Philippines, as well as the different embassies, consulates, and Filipino communities all over the world now celebrate these two special anniversaries that have already been officially entered into our sacred history.
The first is the anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, which we celebrate every February.
This event reminds us of the unity that we have as one nation and the power we can achieve when we are united.
It reminds us of the unseating of a presidency, the acknowledgment of rightful leaders and the restoration of democracy.
It reminds us of the freedom and peace we dearly sought and bravely fought for.
The Edsa revolution brings us pride and honor as a country and, individually, as Filipino citizens.
Ninoy’s death and Edsa
But the Edsa People Power Revolution that we celebrate each year would not have happened without the death of our beloved Ninoy Aquino.
Ninoy’s death paved the way for so many events, allowed opportunities to transpire for the restoration of democracy and changed the course of our history.
That is what we celebrate today.
Having lived a provincial life in the south and never been interested in political affairs, I did not know the then Senator Aquino, even when I moved to the big city of Manila for my theology studies.
His death introduced me to his life and that made me want to live for what he died for.
He died for his faith in the Filipino people, for his love of God and family, and for the hope of his native country.
He was a war correspondent, the youngest mayor, youngest governor and perhaps the youngest senator.
He was smart, witty, a good speaker and a good family man.
But he was more than that, I believe.
I don’t know if he spoke other languages, which I suppose he did, because of his intelligence.
But for me, he was a good translator of the Bible.
He translated the Bible not in any foreign language, but he translated the word of God in real-life situations.
He translated the gospel into action. In fact, his life was a translation of Christ.
In our gospel that we read today from St. John, Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Jesus was speaking of himself, now translated to the life of Ninoy.
The fruit of Edsa had been produced because of this grain of wheat, of Ninoy’s body, that fell on the tarmac and died.
When Jesus said “there is no greater love than to lay down his life for a friend,” Ninoy translated it by saying: “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”
Ninoy showed his great love for his fellow Filipinos.
As our first reading for today, the first letter of St. John (1 Jn 3:14-16) says “the way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us.”
The book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and the gospel in the New Testament admonish us “to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, mind and strength.”
Serve people and country
Ninoy translated these words in his letter to his son Noynoy, now our country’s President: “There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.”
When Paul said to the Ephesians (5:25): “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loves his Church,” Ninoy translated it in a poem to Cory: “I have fallen in love with the same woman three times.” Further translated to—loving his wife Cory—always and forever.
“Into your hands I commend my spirit,” our responsorial psalm declares today.
Ninoy further translated it by praying before his assassination.
As his brother-in-law here, Ken Kashiwahara, narrated in an interview, Ninoy was praying and holding his rosary beads when the plane landed in Manila that fateful day.
The fruits of a tree can easily be snatched by a hungry bird or corrupted by unmindful farmers, or may fall to the ground or become rotten by the passage of time.
But the tree can always bear fruit. The seed that was planted with Ninoy’s death has become a tree and it will always bear fruit.
Thank you, Ninoy
Thank you, Ninoy, for the faith you offered—“faith in our people and faith in God.”
Thank you for the love you showed us by dying for our country and our people.
Thank you for inspiring us with the hope you gave us.
Thank you for the life you gave us with your death.
Thank you for translating the Bible and the word of God for us.
Thank you for showing us how to live as a true Filipino and as a real follower of Christ.
BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO, JR. Filipino Hero and Martyr
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