Holy Mass on the Feast Day
of Our Lady of Manaoag
Homily by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, OP, DD
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag,
29 April 2020
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is still Fiesta and it will always be Fiesta for us, remembering the goodness of the Lord not just to Manaoag but to Pangasinan and to the Philippines and to the world. The Gospel ended with a very simple sentence “then the Angel departed from her.”
Mary was perplexed, she asked and she was answered but I am very sure that even if the Angel answered her, she did not completely understand but because the Angel was talking to her, she just said “Let it be done to me according to your word” and the Angel left her. And the Angel never appeared again, and the angel never explained again, and the Angel never gave her an opportunity to ask another question again. the Angel left her!
When she could not understand why the 12-year-old Son was left in the Temple, there was no Angel to explain. When she could not understand why her Son was talking strange and they thought he had become crazy, there was no Angel to explain. When Jesus was condemned to death, scourged, crowned with thorns, there was no angel to explain. And at the foot of the Cross, there was still no Angel to explain what was going on, the angel had left her. But how did she cope? Mary was able to manage and quite pretty well, how did she manage? The Lord gave her memory. When things could not be understood, she remembered the angel told her “you are Blessed.” when she could not understand, she remembered that the Angel told her “my Son is the Son of the Most High God.” When she could not understand, she just returned and returned to the memory of the Angel’s visit and the memory of the visit of the angel seem to be enough to carry on even if it was one step at a time.
Why can’t we see God? If God loves us, why doesn’t he show his face? If God really loves us why doesn’t he makes his voice heard just to assure us if all will be well. The time are so uncertain, the people are dying, people are afraid to be near, to shake hands, to eat together, where is God? St Augustine was asked “why can’t people not see God, why does God hide” and he said “No, God is not hiding. We are not able to see God because we are blind.” God can be seen but because we are blind, we are not able to see. And the Son of Mary also taught us that the pure of heart will be able to see God. That is why my dear brothers and sisters, that is why in my heart of hearts if the Angel had left her, this Immaculate Mother still saw God because she was the purest of all and the promise is true that those who are pure of heart will be able to see God here on Earth and in Heaven. That is what helped Mary, the purity of her heart and with that purity she was able to see through, she was able to see glory beyond the scourging and the crucifixion, she was able to see the Messiah even if he was talking crazy. She was able to see because her heart was pure.
Three things brothers and sister; the angel left her. Second, she continued to remember and third, her heart was so pure that even if the angel had departed, she continued to see the visible hand of the powerful God. Many feels like the Angel has left the world, it feels like the Angel has left the Philippines. We used to be so secured that we are “Pueblo amante de Maria” we used to be very proud that we are only the Christian country in Asia and we are even looking forward to the 500th Anniversary of the first Mass and the first Baptism in the Philippines. It was only last year; it was only last week rather when we celebrated the first mass and the first baptism but what a celebration. The Angel left her, has the angel left us? Maybe.
But even if the angel has left us, God has given us the power of memory and even if our eyes cannot see God because our eyes are too impure and sinful, today we thank the Lord for the gift of memory because even if the Angel has left us, we can still remember those days we feel blessed, we can still remember those day where we felt loved and in remembering, we are strengthened, we can rise up again.
My dear brothers and sisters, the angel left the Virgin Mary so we cannot complain that the Angel has left us. If the Angel can leave the Mother of God, why can she leave us. But we are not as pure as the Mother, that is why we are not able to see God with our eyes. But even if our eyes cannot see God because of the impurity of our souls, may our memory be strong and may that memory of God’s goodness in the past carry us through each day into another future, a different kind of future where God is truly in control and we submit everything into his hands.
Dear Lady, the Angel left you and the Angel has left us too. You carried on and you saw the Lord because your heart was so pure but our hearts are dirty, our souls are impure but you have been given memory as we have been given memory. May the memory of the Angel, may the memory of what your Son did in the Upper room, may the memory of the Pentecost event, may the memory of the first Baptism in the Philippines, may the memory of the first Mass in this land carry us through even if it feels like God your Son has abandoned us, we know he is with us and the memory of his presence in the past will bring him to our present and that memory will heal the World. We believe dear lady, we believe. We remember.
Before the Solemn Blessing, Archbishop Villegas gave the following remarks to the faithful following via the livestreaming:
Those among you who are following us on livestreaming, we want to assure you that as we received the Body and Blood of the Lord, we received it on your behalf. That even if you at home are not able to receive the Lord sacramentally, we are certainly can always receive him if you love in your heart. And we pray together on this very unique Feast of Our Lady of Manaoag that this pandemic leaves us soon, that peace may be restored and the world may be healed again, turning again to the love and Mercy of the Lord. We are the people calling upon the name of the Lord and we know that he will not abandon us.
Dear Lady, the Church in Pangasinan is yours. The Church in Lingayen-Dagupan is all yours. And we will stay yours.