Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

NEW YEAR'S DAY: A HOPE THAT TRANSFORMS

EVERY FIRST DAY of the year, the Holy Father gives his message for the World Day of Peace.  Pope Benedict XVI, recalls (the text has already been published) the encyclical of his predecessor John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, that speaks about peace by eradicating poverty.  This poverty reveals human misery that goes beyond material insufficiencies.  A lot of people extremely felt the lack of love and experienced being abandoned by their families even if they have material wealth.  What about moral and spiritual poverty?  The Pope will be speaking about peace today in the midst of the horror of deaths caused by the war between Israel and the Hamas.  There is indeed a cycle of sin and moral degradation that affects the whole world.  Let me invite you to read the Holy Father’s message (available at the Vatican website) and understand the complexity of the world’s situation that makes “peace” so elusive from us.

Is there still any hope that awaits us? For Christians, the answer is truly positive. There is hope for those who have faith.  I cannot but bring into the fore again the recent encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI Spe Salvi  to inspire us and give us the right direction in living out the virtue of hope that truly transforms us.  A hope that will certainly brings us peace!  This is the kind of hope that saves us!  How? The hope that is grounded on our faith to our Lord Jesus Christ will save us beginning as to where we are at this moment of time because we are moved to do something what Christ did and is continuously doing through the Holy Spirit.  We go beyond our selfishness, greediness, and self-centeredness.  Truly, as the Holy Father mentions, that it is greed that destroys the world and its peace, unbridled and criminal greed of individuals and institutions.

Hopelessness seems to penetrate the lives of people in the world. The Filipinos that have been eaten up by corruption in the government probably have felt the fatigue and the weakening of trust which shows traces of seeming hopelessness.  Where is this coming from?  Is this the manifestation of the absence of God in one’s life? Or is this the misconception of God that supports the people’s bad habits and erodes morality- government officials living double lives, a religiosity that is totally different from the facts of daily living? Or is it because we are creating our own little gods, or making ourselves the gods of others?

I believe there is no simple answer to these difficult religious questions.  Human persons have complex nature that no single explanation can ever suffice.  People have needs that tend to be selfish, but we also know that they are transcendent beings with capacity for self-offering, self-sacrifice and oblation that many in the generations passed have witnessed before us.   They have offered their lives for the sake of many and the greater value that they believed in- for the Ultimate they call God! Mary is an exemplar for this truth.  That is why we give her reverence today, in this solemnity of being the “Mother of God,” because she freely offered herself to be the vessel in which God transmits to humanity his saving plan. 

We can be “mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters” of God if we will carry him in our hearts and allow him to be born in others.  The incarnation of Christ is an awesome mystery that invites our hearts and minds to ponder upon and experience its wonder in our lives, in our midst.  This hope, rooted in this mystery if incarnation and the whole event of Christ’s life will move us to cooperate in God’s work of transforming the world.  May this hope sets our hearts free from selfishness and enkindle us to do what is good, beautiful and true!   

                             [Fr REGIE LAVILLA MSP
                                   MSP Seminary, Tagaytay City]


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