Pontifical Mass in honor of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia
Homily by Most Reverend Gabriele Giordano Caccia,
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines
Esplanade in front of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga City, Camarinies Sur,
21 September 2019
Dyos marháy na banggí po [applause].
It’s a great joy for me to be with all of you tonight to celebrate this fiesta of Our Lady of Penafrancia and I want to thank your Archbishop that so kindly invited me to be with you and experience this very beautiful celebration. And I’m so glad also that the bishops of the region and also some Emeriti bishops are present, it’s beautiful that we are together and as a sign that we walk as church not as individual but as community.
I greet in a way in particular way all the priests present here, when we see so many people, we understand that the Lord gave us a great gift and also a great responsibility, let us rejoice always in the vocation we have received. I’m glad to see religious men and women, I greet all the distinguished civil and military authority and the seminarians, all of you dear brothers and sisters that are here today, I would like that my greeting would reach also the thousand hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed the image of Our Lady coming here and I assure you that in these mass, I bring all your intentions of prayer for yourself, for your ones, for those who need more and for sure my presence is a sign of the presence of Pope Francis being the Apostolic Nuncio, the representative, I’m sure if he could’ve been here tonight, he would be very moved by what I saw and didn’t expect and so I bring the greetings, the gratitude and the blessing of Pope Francis that he loves so much the Filipino people. [applause]
Really this afternoon, I was moved, almost to tears and is not easy to say few words, I would like rather stay in silence but having this feeling of gratitude to each one of you, who came in honor of Our Lady, I was thinking “why so many people are gathered in festive way with enthusiasm for hours, why?” What is the reason and then to answer this question I thought to pose you some question and the first question is this; Do you have each one of you present here a relative, father mother husband wife, grandfather a children who is not here in the Philippines but abroad, worker living outside in the Philippines, do you have raise your hands… almost everyone. Do you miss them? Do you think they will miss you? Do you think that they would rather be with you tonight?
This is my reflection, why so many people because all of us, we are homesick, because we would like to be where we are not and why I say this, the first reading reminded us that we were in a peaceful, beautiful garden prepared by God, but then at the certain moment we were afraid of God and as Adam did, we tried to hide from him, of course he was conscious that something went wrong. but sometimes it’s not the same for us, we would like to be in good relation with God but because of some choices, because of some attitude we prefer to hide from him, we prefer not to listen to his voice, we pretend to leave as if he doesn’t exist, but deep deep deep inside, we feel that we’re not at home and we would like to go home. And we look at the Virgin Mary and when she passed with her faith, simplicity, humility, trust, we tell her “Mother, help us to go home, help us to be in positive relation with God, help us to praise him, to remember him, to pray him, to feel that even when we do wrong he is there, waiting for us” ready for forgiveness, for mercy. And so, when we see the faith of Mary, we ask her “please bring us back home.”
And then the first reading told us that not just the man and woman were afraid of God that tried to hide, but they starting fighting among them they said “oh his fault is not mine, it’s the other side fault.” How many times we do that, at home, at the work with the others, the fault is always somebody else. How many times, instead of seeing the others like brothers and sisters, we are competing, we look with dividends, sometimes we don’t care at all, we are very indifferent, sometimes we keep some bad feelings of vengeance, of retaliation and we feel deep inside that it is not good, that is not what we are supposed to be, where we are supposed to be and we turn again to our Lady and pray “Mama Mary, help us to go back home”, to change the relations with the others as you were able to put your young life at the service of old Elizabeth, you were able during the wedding of Cana to see that there were some problems, the wine was over, you look and care for each one and when we discovered the other as a gift of God, as an help of God and we respect in praise and we are happy and we are in community, we feel that we are at home but its not always like that.
In the first reading also tell us that there was a kind of rapture even with the garden, the garden that was supposed to give fruit became hostile. We received a beautiful world, the water, the sun, the ocean, the rivers, beautiful from the hand of God and when we look now how we reduced our home, our common house, common home, pollution, exploitation, we feel that’s not right, we feel that its not being at home and we look to Our Lady and we ask her to help us to be in good relation, even with the nature, with the environment. I see that this enthusiasm to welcome Our Lady of Penafrancia here is a kind of prayer, Mama Mary help each one of us as individual, help all our small parishes community, help the Church to go home, to be at peace with God, rejoicing for the presence of the others, serving also the nature in a way we can pass this gift to future generations and we see in her that this is possible because she was simple and great in faith and she tell us trust in God, tell to him everything, be open to him, don’t hide, don’t go away, he’s a father, he’s a tender father, don’t look at the others with suspicion, be open, receive them, serve them, take care of them, you will find peace and joy. Look at the world and say “thank you God”, help me to pass this gift.
And she has a secret, how she was able to be at home, they knew Eve, the real one, you look at the image is not just the image of Mama Mary, of ‘Ina‘, there is always a small child; Jesus. The secret of Mary that she welcome Jesus in her life and Jesus grow in her and she gave Jesus to us. The secret to go home for each one of us is to welcome Jesus in our life. Be open to the word, be listening to his teachings, imitate his actions, sharing the same feelings of mercy, of compassion, of justice. If we allow Jesus to come in us, he transforms our life and bring us back home and make of all of us Holy persons. This is our vocation, to be Holy like our Mother Mary she is holy, like all the Saints but each one of us is called to be holy, welcoming Jesus in our life, allowing him to grow to expand and take possession of our life. And this is the message Pope Francis recently gave to all Christians I would read a small passage of the exultation of Pope Francis he said; “We are tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs and spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” (Pope Francis – Gaudate et Exsultate, No 14)
Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitments with joy.
Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife as Christ does for the Church.
Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters.
Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus.
Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.
Let the grace of baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness, let us ask tonight Our Lady of Penafrancia, our ‘Ina’ to help us to be Holy, to welcome Jesus in our life and to walk as person and as people back home where we can find peace with God with the others, with the world and so let it be.
Our Lady of Penafrancia, Pray for us.