Monday, March 5, 2012


Rev. Dr. Hilario M. Gomez, Jr., Ph.D.
Bishop Emeritus, UCCP

(This speech was delivered February 18, 2012, during the Fellowship Dinner that followed after the formal installation ceremonies of the 2012 Iligan Lodge No. 207 Officers.  Rev. Dr. Hilario M. Gomez is the Special Guest Speaker and the father of the newly installed Worshipful Master of Iligan Lodge No. 207.)

Of Men and Noble Societies.  We are honored tonight to be present on this memorable occasion, an occasion of noble character and certainly of historic nature.  This occasion is a noble one for these promises to relive the purposes of a society of high-minded individuals who have braved the whims and caprices of men and nations through the ages.  You know pretty well the history of the Masonic Fraternity, of its glories in the past in the Holy Land, to Europe, particularly in Southern France, to the great city of Paris, to England, Scotland, the United States of America, then to other countries and to ours.  As in any organization in the world, from the ancient past to the present, we read of lesser brothers who failed to live up to the noble purposes of the craft, they who were lured to the glitter of gold and worldly power, in France, for example, during the time of King Philip the Fair, that led to malicious accusations from the Empire and the less worthy leaders - bishops and popes of the church.  But thanks to the noble men who shone in the pages of the History of the Craft and the impartial rendering of great historians, especially in the more recent past, the noble character of the Fraternity has been highlighted to the world of scholarship and the general history of humankind.  We know too well the great contributions to culture, science and political governance of such members of this Fraternity as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and many other founding fathers of the great American nation that enshrined in the history mankind the noble purposes of godly men and nations in the timeless Declaration of Independence of 1776.  And in our history we have such men as Dr. Jose Rizal, the great Malayan, Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan, Senate President Camilo Osias, General of the Philippine Army Manuel Mandac, and the more recent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Renato Puno.  And there are many more, both here present tonight and elsewhere.

Installation Ceremony as Return to Illo Tempore.  Our coming together then must be an occasion to remember the glorious past of this noble fraternity, as well as a reminder that not all members have lived up to the noble intentions and guiding lights and principles to make man a better man and this country a better place to live in.. It is both a joyous and humbling experience.  The great scholar of both secular and sacred institutions, the late Dr. Prof. Mircea Iliade, of the University of Chicago has aptly pointed this truism when he said that important ceremonies, such as this installation, should always be an occasion to return in illo tempore, the golden past, the timeless and glorious beginning when members should usher themselves to relive the past as it were, and as it should be.  In Christianity this is done in the celebration of the Eucharist.  And in that other great religion, Islam, adherents are reminded of the eternal tenets of this great monotheistic faith not only in the faithful observance of the sawm or puasa, but also of the maulid un nabi, or the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and in the hadj.

Masonry and Masons.  I can safely assume that all of us gathered tonight believe that the Masonry is a good organization, as it certainly has contributed a great number of illustrious members in the US, the Philippines and elsewhere.  In that we should rejoice.  Men became noble and good, respected and held in high esteem, it is often said, when they become members of a good and noble institution.  But there are timeless rules and practices that govern this organization.  Thus, member rise and fall by this measuring stick, this rule of conduct and proper behavior.  Time and again, then, it is necessary for you and every member that there is such standard as truly Masonic and sadly Unmasonic behaviors and conduct.  We should challenge all Masons and especially
 the officers to be installed of this significant fact that organizations are as good as the members thereof.  For it is good to be reminded that a chain, a cadena, is as strong as its weakest link.

The story of the Greatest Salesman.  Many of you tonight, I believe, are quite familiar of the story of the Greatest Salesman of the World as recounted by Og Mandino.  In that little, thin but tremendously important novelette of the same title, Mandino tells of the life experience of Hafid, the poor camel boy who rose to become the well-loved, highly respected salesman of Damascus and of the known world in his time.  In fact the novelette revolves around the story of this camel boy turned salesman.  How he learned the principles of his trade, how he followed the tenets of the art of salesmanship from the ten scrolls left for him by another great salesman, Patros, his foster father.  But the last chapter, it seems to me, was really the center of the story, the encounter of now retired old salesman and Saul of Tarsus, who was later on called Paul of Damascus and revered by Christians throughout the history of Christianity and beyond.  Paul, we are told, traveled far and wide, Palestine, the Middle East, the known world in his days, including Greece, Thessalonica, Corinth, Athens, Rome, and even beyond Rome.  His purpose in life after that momentous experience in the road to Damascus, where he met his Lord and Master, who called him personally to tell the world the great ideals of this Man of Nazareth.  Thus, Paul became the salesman of the Evangelion, the Gospel of Love, of the lonely Prophet of Israel who met his death by crucifixion on the hill of Golgotha in the holy city of Jerusalem.  Paul's story was one of trials and tribulations as a wandering salesman in the hostile world of Ancient Rome, the bigoted Jews and Gentiles, how he was persecuted, tried by the Roman couorts and imprisoned, and then sent off by boat, naturally, there were no airplanes then, to be tried and then crucified, like his master.  In the process, this learned doctor of laws, Paul, effectively sold the ideals, the teachings and life of his Master, Jesus Christ.  Many were convinced to buy this merchandise of this Greatest Salesman.  Before his death, we are told that Paul was praised by many as an effective and good salesman for, many have bought the merchandise he was then selling - the Gospel of Love, of Service to humanity, and the desire to make this world a better place to live in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the revered prophet from Nazareth of all time, honored by Christians and Muslims alike.  To thos who praised him, Paul, like Hafid, told his audience, that he was not even a good salesman, much more the greatest salesman.  For to him he was merely a servant of the servant lord, his master Jesus Christ, the prophet of Nazareth.  He said, for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Such is Paul, the Greatest Salesman, humble to the end.

Lessons from the Greatest Salesman.   As we hinted earlier we are all salesmen, whether we sell merchandise,our skills and talents, or even ideas, and what have you.   The story of the Greatest Salesman, of Paul of Tarsus and Damascus should have some special significance for us.   We should underscore at least five lessons for us this evening :  Perseverance or Persistence, Love, Hope, Service to Humanity, and Humility.

a.  Perseverance.    Our world today calls for honest and noble men, to pursue their highest goals in life, the noble aims of their calling, and as nobly taught by this well-honored fraternity, the Masonic society.  Whether in Iligan or elsewhere, noble men are called then to persevere, to persist to follow these noble goals in this world of trials and tribulations.   So that, in the process, you shall follow the immortal words of William Shakespeare, in the mouth of Hamlet, that in his world of pain, men might tarry a while, to tell your story.

b.  Love.   In Og Mandino's narrative, one of the scrolls reminds that to truly be a great salesman, one must follow the law of love, to take every person a miracle from God Almighty, and therefore a special person. But truly love to everyman must begin by loving oneself, thus restating the second greatest commandment of the Prophet Jesus of Nazareth :"Love your neighbor as you love yourself."   All of us then tonight should begin by loving oneself.  You cannot honor, love and give high premium to others if you do not care for yourself, if you do not care to improve yourself everyday, if you do not love yourself.  For you are a miracle from God, the Creator of Man and the universe.

c.  Hope.   You, we must have hope and believe that in every man hope springs eternal, hope that each day is a new day that promises potentials that promise to be achieved.  Whether as a salesman selling rugs, in Mandino's story, or a teacher, an engineer, a medical doctor, or what have you, we must learn to hope for better things every day, and to live that day or this day as if it were the last day.

d.  Service to Humanity.   Those of us from outside of the fraternity are in awe for the dedication and efforts that you have shown in the aftermath of the flood of Iligan wrought by Typhoon Sendong.  I understand that masons of Iligan, Lanao del Norte and elsewhere have raised hundreds of thousands of pesos, and priceless time, expertise as doctors, engineers or other professions to assist the hapless victims.  You should be congratulated.  I offer you my highest appreciation. But you should not rest on this laurel, but should move on to do better and higher things.

e.  Humility.   Finally, you should be humble and consider that each of you, nay, each of us, should not forget that we are mere creatures of the Great Creator.  As creatures, we all must end our existence in this earthly world.   To turn, once more to Og Mandino, Hafid the Greatest Salesman recognized his frailty in the twilight of his life.   He dreamed that soon he shall die, and waited for the man whom he could entrust the ten scrolls of salesmanship, and he honored the day when he encountered Paul of Damascus.  To him Paul, his successor, will become a better salesman, greater than he.  Humble to the end.  So must you be.  So should we be.

Conclusion and Final Challenge.   Let me now end with a personal note.  I am honored to be present in this high occasion tonight.  I am doubly honored and happy that my son, my eldest son and namesake, Dr. Hilario Abel B. Gomez, could be given this high honor as worshipful master of this noble organization.  I challenge him then to live up to this honor and privilege.  There are many organizations and fraternities.   But yours is an honored one, noble fraternity with noble intentions.   Remember that there are greater men before you, and certainly noble men after you.  But certainly, you shall receive more honor and will be remembered long after if you take this honor, not as a badge of privilege but one of responsibility and service.  For to be great is to be humble, to be honorable is to be of service to others.  Strive then to be a strong link in the Masonic chain, and not to be its weakest.   For the chain is, and will be strong only as its weakest link.  Be honorable in this honored and noble organization, this fraternity of noble men, the Masons.

Let this challenge then be to all of us tonight.  Let us be honorable men in this noblest of  fraternities.  Thank you and good night.

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