Holy Mass on the Ninth Day
of the Novena
in Honour of Our Lady of La Naval
Homily by Rev. Fr. Hilario Sicat Jr, OP
Santo Domingo Church, Quezon City
12 October 2019
Magandang gabi po muli sa inyong lahat. Good evening to Fr. Mandy and to our Dominican Priests concelebrating.
Ngayong araw pong ito, Visepras ng ating Kapistahan, ay ipinagdiriwang din po natin ang isa pang napakagandang titulo ng ating Mahal na Ina. Today, October 12 we are celebrating also the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, Nuestra Senora del Pilar. This is a very interesting event, a very interesting manifestation and apparition of Our Lady in Zaragoza, Spain. After the persecution or during the persecution, the Apostles of Jesus went to their own ways to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, one of the Apostles, James the Great arrived in a place called Ebro, which is now the modern-day Zaragoza, Spain and during that time, St. James was very disappointed, he was very weak, he did not want to continue anymore his mission, sabi niya sa kanyang sarili “para wala naming nangyayari, parang gusto ko nang mag-give up.” Napakahirap naman ng misyong ito pero para wala naming bunga. And he was distressed, he was greatly disappointed and frustated. This was about the year 40 AD to 44 AD, and in the midst of his discouragement, he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary atop of a Pillar, nakatayo ang Mahal na Birhen sa isang pundasyon, and when he saw Mary, he heard the message of our Blessed Moather, anong sabi ng Mahal na Ina “do not give up, I have come to encourage you, continue your mission and I tell you, you shall build a church in this place.” That message of the Blessed Virgin Mary restored the Faith of Saint James. Saint James was strengthened and he continued his mission, he was so encouraged and he still returned to preach the Gospel of Jesus.
My dear brothers and sisters, if you go to Zaragoza, Spain today, you will see there a beautiful church dedicated to Our Lady, Our Lady of the Pillar. Mary is standing on a foundation; she is standing on a pillar. Who is the foundation? Who is the Pillar? Jesus Christ is the foundation, Jesus Christ is the Pillar and Mary stands on the Pillar, the secret of her faith and of her strength. and it was her mission and continues to be her mission to share this faith and this strength to all of us. Kaya napakaganda po ng kuwento ng Our Lady of the Pillar, ang pina-paalala po sa atin, si Maria ay patuloy na umaagapay sa ating lahat, I was told that your theme for this year’s Fiesta is si Maria “kaagapay ng kabataan sa paglalakbay” indeed Mary is our companion, in the spiritual journey of each one of us. Napakaganda lang po ng salitang Filipino, kaagapay, pag sinabing kaagapay hindi lang basta kasama, pag sinabing kaagapay yung kaagapay ay kasama pero tumutulong at nagpapalakas ng loob, that is a very rich Filipino word ‘kaagapay’ and this year we are using that word for Mary, Mary is our ‘kaaagpay’ she is not merely a companion, minsan po meron ka naming kasama pero wala naming silbi yung kasama mo, kasama mo nga pero parang wala din, mabuti pang wala ka na lang kasama pero may mga kasama na mararamdaman mo tinutulungan ka, may mga kasama na yung presensya niya tumutulong at nanghihikayat. There is this kind of sense that is not only accompaniying but also encouraging and helping and that is our Blessed Mother Mary, she is encouraging her presence is a helping presence, a loving presence.
Kaya ngyaong gabi, tamnag-tama sa pagtatapos ng Novena at pagahahnda para bukas, we have this image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on top of a Pillar, reminding us that the pillar of our faith and the pillar of our strength is the Lord Jesus and Mary always stands on that Pillar. and he wants all of us to stand also on that pillar, when we are discouraged, when we find life burdensome.
Today, our first reading comes from the prophet Zechariah, Zechariah the Prophet lived during the exile of the people of God in Babylon, while they were in captivity, they were a suffering people but it was part of God’s design that they will not remain to be captives and exiles because one day the people of Israel were freed by the King and they were allowed to return to their land of Judah and to restore the city if Jerusalem. Zechariah the Prophet encourage the people by his words, anong sabi ni Prophet Zechariah. Sabi ni Prophet Zechariah “this is what the Lord had said ‘I will come to my people and I will be present in their midst and I will allow them to go back to their land. I will be their God and I will live in their midst’ says the Lord.” Iyan po ang ating First reading. Paalala sa ating lahat na ang Diyos ay sumasaatin, na ang Diyos ay hindi tayo bibiguin na sa lahat ng paghihirap natin, hindi tayo pababayaan ng Diyos at sa lahat ng mga pagdurusa natin, dadating ang Panginoon at mananahan siya sa piling natin. That is our first reading today and we reflect on that because too is the message of our blessed Mother Mary, si Maria sinasabi sa atin, ang tunay na kaagapay ay ang Diyos natin. Si maria sap ag-aagapay sa atin, pinapaalala na ang tunay na umaagapay ay walang iba kundi Diyos. Because the presence of the Lord is a presence that is encouraging, the presence of God is a presence that assures us, that he will help us and that he will be with us in our needs, kaagapay.
And so, the mission of Mary by her being kaagapay is to remind us that there is the great kaagapay in our midst, Jesus Christ. God lives among us. Kaya nga po yung second reading natin ngayon from the Acts of the Apostles and this was after the ascension of Jesus. Pagkatapos ng ascencion, anong ginawa ng mga Alagad, sabi doon sa second reading natin “they went to the upper Room and they devoted themselves to prayer” and the Blessed Virgin Mary was with them. Again, the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the presence that is full of devotion, the presence that is encouraging and helping us.
The Gospel reading today is the very popular story of the Annunciation of the Lord through the Angel Gabriel to our Blessed Mother Mary. And this story, I am sure you know this by heart, ilang beses na nating tong naririnig, pag Simbang Gabi maririnig na naman natin ito, sa mga Kapistahan ng Mahal na ina naririnig natin ito. But let us allow the story tonight to fill our hearts and the story tells us of how Mary invites all of us to be also a true ‘kaagapay’ to each one of us. Anong sinasbi ng Annunciation, number 1, Mary knows how to listen, when she prays, she listens to the Lord but she also dialogues with the Lord, she is not a passive listener, she also asks questions and she bears to the Lord her heart, he remotions. Sabi niya “I do not understand all this” kaya sabi sa kanya ng Anghel “ang Diyos nang bahala Maria.” Mary listens, Mary dialogues, Mary is attentive to the signs of the Lord. Nung hindi maintindihan ni Maria kung ano ang plano ng Diyos, anong ginawa ng Anghel, sabi nung Anghel “Mary, naalalo mo yung pinsan mo, si Elizabeth, she is old and barren but she is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” The angel is giving her a sign and look at the attentiveness of Mary because after Mary received her sign, she would run to Judah to see Elizabeth and to see the sign. Mary listening, Mary dialoguing with the Lord, Mary attentive to the sign of the Lord. And finally, Mary responds. Nung marinig niya sabi “nothing is impossible with God” sabi ni Mary, unconditional yes “I am the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”
Brothers and sisters, what is Mary sharing us tonight? Mary tells us that to be a good kaagapay, we have to listen. Kapag nagpupunta tayo dito sa Santo Domingo para magdasal, nakikinig din ba tayo? Kahit ilang Rosaryo ang dasalin natin, kung hindi naman tahyo nakikinig sa Diyos at sa kanyang kalooban, balewala lahat yung Rosaryo natin kasi yung Rosaryo natin, kaya Our Lady of the Rosary, that Rosary should lead us to Mary and to Jesus, to listen to Jesus, to listen to him and to dialogue with him, to pur our heart to him and to be attentive to the signs that God gives to us everyday and we do not only listen but in the end, we respond to him “I am the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”
So, my dear brothers and sisters, tonight let us pray, let us pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary may continue to remind us that we have a ‘kaagapay’, the Lord Jesus. and that Mary also encourage us because she is a true kaagapay, when we feel down and burdened b the difficulties of life, we have somebody to run to, to encourage us, our Blessed Mother but we do not stop at the devotion.
Let us pray to our Blessed Mother Mary that she may also pray that we may all be transformed to be true and faithful ‘kaagapay’ that we may not only be companions to one another but companions with a presence that is loving and encouraging. That is our response to the call of the Lord and that is our mission. So, we can truly say “Yes Lord, I am the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” Amen.