Holy Mass on the Third Day
of the Novena
in Honour of Our Lady of La Naval
Homily by Rev. Fr. Ralph Jayson Santos, FdCC
Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City
6 October 2019
With gratefulness in our hearts, we are gathered together on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time and today we are also blessed as we prepare for the Great Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of La Naval de Manila. Were also blessed by this occasion because the Lord himself manifest himself for all.
Dearly beloved, living sometimes in highly urbanised city like Manila is sometime living under the urgency of many preoccupations, this scenario is not foreign for all of us, there are moments that we are more preoccupied with the things that need to be done but neglecting to enjoy the company of one another and even to pay attention sometimes to the urgency of our Christian Faith.
Our Gospel reading from St. Luke gave us the picture of the urgency of Faith, the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ saw the pressing needs to increase their Faith, they could ask something that is tangible and practically useful for them but for what they are asking is the very reason of being a follower of Jesus our Lord.
Because of this dearly beloved, the response of Jesus somehow, opens another horizon of being a follower that is simple and yet humble. Jesus makes a comparison of Faith that is likened to a tiny mustard seed, though small and seems nothing but it is indeed can grow and flourish. As if Jesus wanted to convey to us that no matter how small or tiny our Faith, we still have the possibility of following him because that little, tiny, simple seed of faith has the possibility of growth and to bear much fruit.
To grow in faith is not only confine, dearly beloved, in our prayers and devotions through, this is important but more so, it is relationship to God that matters. this relationship, dearly beloved is the seed bed of Faith and according to Apostle Paul to his letter to the Romans “Faith comes from hearing” (cfr. Romans 10:17) it means that Faith is only possible if we listen to the Word of God in our own lives and context.
This is also the message of our Responsorial Psalm that invites us that when we hear the voice of God, were invited to harden not our hearts therefore, the seed of the Word of God will be planted in our hearts and thus the seed of our tiny, small, simple seed of Faith will be flourished through listening.
Indeed, dearly beloved, it is clear from our First Reading from the book of the Prophet Habakkuk that the just ones because of their Faith will leave, because of our God is a God who listens to our Prayers, according to his compassionate love towards all. He listens to all especially in the moments of our difficulties and tribulations in life. He listens because he cares and that care is founded in love. Our readings for this Sunday invite us to establish our lives to God, no matter how big, how small, how firm or shaky our Faith might be but the most important is our willingness to open our hearts to God, to plant a seed of Faith through listening.
In connection brothers and sisters, we are being invited to open our hearts to listen to other people, especially those people around us, the ability to listen is a great manifestation of love, I will repeat, the ability to listen is a great manifestation of love. It is a sweet tone to listen to the words of a particular person whom we appreciate and value, that is why we are invited to open our hearts to listen more because listening can nourish our faith and our relationship with other people around us.
Don’t be afraid if our heart is broken, because of numerous preoccupations, misunderstandings and inconsistencies in our life, the good thing is if our hearts are broken, it has the capacity to assimilate more love and nourishment, if our hearts are broken, it has a more capacity to receive assimilate love because it is open and yet broken.
Like in the Gospel, a tiny mustard seed of Faith, if nourished properly will flourish and bear much fruits, the urgency of our Faith is now calling us to renew our perspective of listening, it is not simply receiving message from other people but more so responding to the signs of time, to listen means “to response and to serve” we are not merely a receptor but a proclaimer of God’s infinite goodness, we cannot be numb to the cry of suffering, of poverty and mistreatment in our society, in our community or even in our own families. When we listen to the voice of God, soften our hearts through the works of charity towards our neighbour, the word of God is a dynamic that impels us to response to the needs of other people, especially through our humble service, to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. Listening helps us to become more attentive and not only closing our ears because if we close our ears, it means shutting down the possibilities of growth in Faith and relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters.
It is better say in Filipino, we call this “pagtalima” “pagtalima” means “to listen at the same time to response immediately” because we hear, we understand, we assimilate, we comprehend and that is the infinite love of our Lord.
Let us implant in our hearts dearly beloved, that listening is a great manifestation of love and a constant invitation of responding to the urgency of the signs of times through our humble service to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. The challenge now is with us, the challenge now is to listen more carefully with love and also with undivided attention first to God and second to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are around us.
Listen and be nourished.