Holy Mass on the Eighth Day
of the Novena
in Honour of Our Lady of La Naval
Homily by Rev. Fr. Jose Tupino III
Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City
11 October 2019
[singing] Hey, there’s a look in your eyes / Must be love at first sight.
Magandang gabi ho sa inyong lahat, nawa ho maganda pa rin ang inyong gabi matapos niyong mamalas ang aking boses. Narinig ho naman ninyo, hindi ho kasing ganda ng tinig ni Rev. Mike ang aking tinig, ngunit kapag ho may salo-salo sa Kumbento at Seminaryo ay nangunguna ho ako, numero uno gumagamit ng videoke at hindi na matanggal ng aking mga brothers ang mikopreno, magdamag ho nilang maririnig ang aking boses at magpepenitensya ng magdamag.
My dear friends, I think all of us want to be heard and probably my desire to sing resonates from man’s universal desire to be heard, we all want to aired our opinions, our thoughts in all things that we see and experience in our life. the social media for example is not wanting of comments from all kinds of people, everyone has a take on a particular issue and they make sure it is heard through their comments or by simply liking or sharing some posts. In the Colegio where as I administered today, alam niyo ho nakadestino ho ako sa Letran-Calamba at sa Letran-Calamba ho sa drawing board ng facilities and management office, we are planning to convert traditional classrooms into what we call today “Smart Classrooms”, more than smart gadgets to be place in these smart classrooms, we are removing the teacher’s table and replace them with students discussion tables. The teachers will not have a monopoly of discussions anymore, everyone gets a voice, everyone is encouraged to speak, more so to listen to others but just a reality check, my dear friends #realtalk, beyond the four corners of Smart Classroom, not all voices are heard, not all questions are sought or answered, especially those of the young.
As we celebrate the Novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval coinciding with the Year of the Youth here in our local Church here in the Philippines, let us think about the young people of today, they have voices but have they been allowed to speak, how many of us listened to them, some may easily dismiss the voices of the young as useless, immature and consequently have no place in serious discourses and that my dear friends is a perfect recipe to distant the young from the old, to mute their eager voces. The youth has voices, they ask valid questions and they too have stories to tell and thoughts to share, they are beloved, gifted and empowered by the Lord. Thus, we are not to sideline them to silence, we are to listen to them.
Pope Francis teaches us that the church today has to be a listening church in order for the Church to be relevant in our present situation today, the church have to learn to listen, it has to be a listening church, he says “A Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum”. My dear friends, for us to be a relevant institution today, we have to learn to listen.
We wonder and ask today, where are the young People? Where are the young People? Where are the young People in the Church? Nasaan ho mga kabataang katoliko ngayon? Nakikita natin dito, iilan lamang ang mga kabataan dito, nakikita ko mula sa kinatatayuan ko, mga young at heart, mga young looking, babyfaced but truth be told, where are the young people? And we can only see a handful of them actively involved in Parish and community activity, where are the majority of them? Sa mga magulang ho rito, nasaan ang inyong gma anak? Sa mga lolo’t lola ho rito, nasaan ang inyong mga apo? Sa mga kapwa ko kabataan, nasaan ang kapwa nating kabataan? Nasaan ang inyong mga kbarkada, kamag-aral. They are there outside, fulfilling their worldly dreams, they are there in computer rooms, in computer shops, in social media, they are outside the Church, fulfilling their worldly ambitions, they are there in places that they are not meant to be engaging in activities they’re not yet supposed to be engaging with and why is that so? Why are the majority of the young Catholics are not with us today, are not actively involved in the Church today my dear friends, it is because they never see the Church as a place where their voices can be heard, where they can express themselves to be themselves freely. Then we have the courage to ask, where are the young people of today, where are the young Catholics but we have to asks ourselves too, if we as a Church provide a welcoming community to them, a place where they can see and experience a certain degree of belongingness, where their voices, concerns and opinions can be heard and will matter.
And how can we draw the young closer to the Church, we can draw them to the Church and to the Good news she preaches by being a community. A communion that can unite their intentions and sentiments with that of Jesus and we can be a communion if we learn to listen more than to speak and preach to them. I remember, may isa akong Letranista na lumapit sa akin, he asked me if I have the time to spare for him and to counsel him about his life, medyo ho mukhang problemado, lumapit sa akin at humingi ng oras kung may oras baa ko para sa kanya and so we sat together and he told me about his current life struggles in Letran. Throughout our almost an hour of conversation, my dear friends, I said nothing but at the end of our encounter, he thanked me profusely, labis-labis ang kanyang pagpapasalamat datapwa’t wala naman akng sinabi. He felt relievedof his problems and truth be told, I did am said nothing except to lend him my ears. I simply listened to him.
More than our preachy sermons and litany, my dear friends, young people need our ears, sometimes we keep on talking and taking because we are afraid to be in passive mode, we are afraid to do nothing but we would be surprised that as we listen to the youth, we are drawn closer and closer to them and come to know their various predicaments in life. Hindi ho ba ganon naman kapag labis-labis ang kagustuhan nating margining ang isang bagay, ang isang tao, anong ginagawa natin, lumlapit, lumalapit, lumalapit tayo.
When we listen, we are moved towards that person to whom we are listening to, when we learn to listen intently, we learn as well to move closer and closer to them whom we listen to. Napapalapit tayo sa taong pinakikinggan natin ng maigi and by knowing them and their situations, my dear friends, we can rightly responds to the needs of the youth, we can rightly responds assist them in their search for meaning in life instead of imposing meaning to them that may not necessarily relevant to them, for it may be the case that we are with them, that we hear and answer their questions but our answers and the solutions we offer are not relevant to their concerns for we failed to listen intently to them, we failed to listen to our children, we failed to listen to our grandchildren, tour barkadas and classmates, and consequently, failed to respond as a Church appropriately to their needs.
Then we are led to the fundamental questions, who can be our model of a church, who can be our model of a communion that listens, my dear friends, Mary is our foremost model of a listener, a model of the Church. Mary when confronted by the realities of her son’s life, learned to listen. She was able to listen for she never thought herself as the one who had the monopoly of truth. And throughout her life, humility animated her, the humility that enabled her to listen to God. When we examine the life of the Blessed Mother, we see a lot of episodes wherein the Blessed Mother listened more than did the talking. Mary listened to the Archangel as it announces God’s plan of making her the Mother of God. Mary listened to the praises of her Cousin Elizabeth as she visited her. Mary listened to the young Jesus as she found her in the temple. And as mother, most probably, Mary was in the crowd, silently listening to her Son while he is preaching the Good News and at the foot of the Cross, Mary able to stand in front of suffering and death of her Son because she prayerfully listened to the last words of her Son crucified. She may not understood all that she heard from her Son but Mary kept all these things in her heart, believing that in time, all the things that she heard will make sense.
Mga kapatid, si Maria ay isang inang marunong making, inang nakikinig, nakikinig sa Diyos, nakikinig sa ating mga panalangin, nakikinig sa paghingi natin ng tulong sa kanyang panalangin sa kanyang anak, kaya nagagawang makaagapay ni Maria sa atin, lalo’t higit sa mga kabataan. Marahil itong dahilan ho kung bakit kayo nagnonobena rito, marahil ang iba ay dumudulog sa ating Birhen ng Santo Rosaryo ng La Naval, ng marinig ng Diyos ang ating mga panalangin sa tulong ng ating Ina o ang iba ay nagparito upang magpasalamt dahil narinig ng Diyos ang inyong panalangin sa tulong ng ating Inang marunong makinig. And by listening, Mary remained close to Jesus and for a communion with her son, she was united with Jesus and her willingness to listen to the promptings of God, led her to obey him.
Indeed, listening leads to obedience, to properly respond to the one who we listend to, siya ang nakikinig ay siyang nakasusunod at nakatutugon ng wasto. If our Mother Mary listened and so should we her children that we too may become obedient like her.
And so, Mary in the Gospel reading today, through her last words recorded in the Gospel admonishes us. At the wedding at Cana, Mary uttered her last words in the Gospel, she admonishes us “Do whatever he tells you to do” obey Jesus. But the prerequisite of obedience is listening thus like her, we have to learn to listen. The word today is not wanting of voices on opinions but surely, listening ears are very much welcome, especially in our relationship with the young people, the youth who want to be heard.
As Mary listened to the needs of those people in that wedding in Cana and as the servants listened and obeyed Jesus’ command, the first miracle in the public ministry of Christ took place in Cana. And as the servants listened as Mary listened, a miracle took place. By listening and appropriately responding to him whom we listen to, miracle, my dear friends, can happen in our midst. Should we proceed into becoming a listening Church today, who knows? Miracle beyond our telling may take place in our midst. As we listen to the beloved, gifted and empowered youth of today, who knows? Years from now, millennials and zillennials will gather themselves around the table of the Eucharist with us, who knows as we listened to the youth, the youth will flock to the church for in her, they will find a welcoming community where they experience a sense of belonging.
My dear friends, as we continue this Eucharistic celebration and this Novena in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval in this year of the youth, let us ask ourselves when did you give the microphone to the young people in your community or invited them to join us in our discussion tables or led them to the table of the eucharist to give thanks, when did you listen to the young for through the youth, my dear friends, God may also speaking to you. And to you, my fellow youth, should you look for someone to listen to your story and find no one among us in the church, willing to lend their ears, I dare say today, here is your Mother, here is Mary, look at her, here’s Mary ready to listen to us, narito ang Inang Maria, handang makinig at umagapay sa ating lahat.