Equality Before God and His Church

Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during Congress on Parish Liturgical Life held on June 27, 2009 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City sponsored by the Archdiocese of Manila.

I became a Special Minister of Holy Communion in my parish at Santuario de San Antonio 20 years ago in 1989. At that time, I was a practising lawyer. After I was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court in 1995, I just continued serving as if nothing had changed.

However, when I was named Chief Justice several years later, our parish priest at that time, Fr. Antonio Rosales, spoke with me. He said that I was already one of the highest officials of our government, higher in rank than cabinet members, senators and congressmen. Would I still want to continue serving as Special Minister and if so, what special arrangements – like security, seating protocol, etc. – would I need.

I replied that I may be the highest judicial official of our country, but in Santuario de San Antonio, I was just an ordinary parishioner. And, if he would permit me, I would like to continue serving as a Special Minister of Holy Communion without any extra arrangements or protocols. I added that I would see to it that my security personnel who accompanied me while I was serving would be as inconspicuous as possible.

In serving our Lord and our Church, we – the people of God – are all equal. Our status or wealth or education is not at all important. What is important is our desire to serve and the quality and sincerity of our service.

We all know that the Good Book (Matthew 25) teaches that only those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned can reach the Eternal Kingdom. By the same token, when we finally knock at the pearly gates, our Lord will not ask us how many digits were in our bank accounts, or how many doctoral degrees we earned, or how lofty our government positions were.

He will just ask whether we shared our resources with the poor, used our talent to defend the weak, and spent our time to help those in most need. And if I may add, how sincerely and humbly we served the Lord and His Church on earth.


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