Ninth Day Novena to Our Lady of Manaoag – 28 April 2020

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Holy Mass on the Ninth Day
of the Novena in Honor
of Our Lady of Manaoag

Homily by Rev. Fr. Roberto G. Reyes, OP

Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag,
Manaoag, Pangasinan
28 April 2020

Magandang hapon po ulit sa inyong lahat. Welcome sa ating last day of the Novena to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary this Summer.

Of all the six Popes I’ve lived through, Pope Francis seems to have the most number of selfies, try googling ‘Pope selfies’ and you will drown with all the images of Pope Francis in different poses, different facial expressions, different people posing with them; women, men, children, babies, the elderly, teenagers and young adults, people with disabilities, priests and sisters, bishops and archbishops, presidents and politicians, people in uniform, ordinary people and people who feel special. people of different colors and culture, different race and religions, different languages. Everybody wants to seize the moment, the moment they have with Pope Francis. Everybody wants to treasure that once in a lifetime when they sat side by side with the Pope. When they their hand -when HE held their hand or they exchange rather a word or two with them.

When the Holy Father personally talked to him, when the Holy Father held their hand with so much fatherly concern and affection. To the people who took those ‘Pope selfies’ those moments were precious, they wanted to treasure those moments in digital photos, to treasure those moments in their hearts.

If the Gospel we read today happened today, Mary would have popped up the camera phone and taken a selfie or two herself. She would not have passed up some selfie moments of her long road trip with Joseph and Jesus to Jerusalem, the celebration of the Passover as a family, their dinner preparations, the dinner itself, she would’ve taken many shots throughout their time in Jerusalem; formal shots, candid shots, wacky shots, walking shots, running shots, still shots, artsy shots, just whatever shots because she treasured all these things in her heart.

And when they got separated on the way home after 3 days search when she and Joseph found Jesus on the temple, she must’ve taken out her phone for more picture taking. At the age of 12, Jesus already knew where the Father wanted him to be and what the Father wanted him to do. He discussed scriptures with the teachers and all who heard him, the Gospel tells us, were astounded as he understanding in his answers.

So why would Mary take selfies? Why wouldn’t she treasure this in her heart? When they approached him to take him home and had that short but thought-provoking exchange, Mary must’ve memorized Jesus’ words “I must be in my Father’s house.” He was fulfilling the will of the Father just as she did when she agreed to be the Mother of God. Even if she unable to understand right away what Jesus said and did, she accepted them peacefully, trustingly, she treasured them in her heart and she kept them there and she waited, she waited for the right time when things would be made clearer to her.

When Jesus went home with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth and lived with them in obedience, I wonder how many shots Mary could’ve taken. Joseph teaching Jesus carpentry work, Jesus helping out around the house, washing dishes maybe, preparing food, handling water in from the nearby well, Jesus finding a quiet place to pray, Jesus reading scriptures. Mary witness all of this as Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him and Mary treasured everything in her heart.

We asked ourselves, what do we treasure in our hearts. Mary shows us examples about the treasure in our hearts, she wants us to treasure the words of Jesus, she wants us to treasure the ways of Jesus, she wants us to treasure the obedience of Jesus to the Father’s will. What do we treasure in our hearts, do they have anything to at all with our life in God, what memories do we hold on to, do we even remember when Jesus sat with us to explain the scriptures to us, do we treasure in our hearts the times when Jesus gave us peace in the midst of all our anxieties, do we remember the times when Jesus showed us a path different from what we would’ve taken. Sometimes, God has a different plan from us, just as Jesus had to be in the Father’s house at that time instead of travelling back to Nazareth right away. A father’s plan was a little bit different from the plan of Mary and Joseph.

Do we even care to know the plan of God? Sometimes we are more convinced of our own plans than God’s plan which can sometimes seem foolish. Sometimes our mind is second what we prefer to do given the dilemma between my plan and God’s plan, what do we do. Do we at least think twice, 3 times? do we pray for wisdom, which do we choose? Do we give the pan of God to thrive even it might seem impractical or inconvenient or do we just disregard it right away? Whose plan do we follow?

Mary may not have understood Jesus’ words and ways all the time but she accepted them anyway, she believed in her son after all he is also the Son of God, she trusted in his wisdom, she was certain that in time things would be made clear to her so she just treasured everything in her heart and followed the will of God. Now she is hailed as Queen of heaven and earth.

When things are not that clear, when it seems more practical to the things my way can I, like Mary, trust in God’s love and wisdom and follow God’s will? Can I set aside my plan with all its benefit and advantages in favor of God’s plan which seems so unsure and without any benefit to me at all? When things don’t seem to add up if we follow the will of God but we follow anyway out of trust, out of difference to God’s holy wisdom, we can treasure that in our heart. Who knows maybe just maybe, God too is treasuring this in his heart. Maybe God too takes the occasional selfie with us for God does treasure us in his loving heart.


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