Mary and Human Liberation

 

Homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas at the Mass on the occasion of the Second Asia Oceania Mariological Conference held at the San Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral last September 9, 2011.

 

My dear sons and daughters of the handmaid of the Lord:

We have come together around the table of the Lord to thank Him for the gift of Mary for the Church. Human words and human deeds are so inadequate to express our gratitude for such a sweet gift to humanity like Mary. We ask Jesus to bring to the Father our praise and thanksgiving. Today, on the fist working day of our mariological conference, let us put ourselves inside the heart of Jesus and allow Jesus to speak for us to the Father. Almighty God, we adore you and we praise you for blessing Mary among all women and creating her full of grace. Through Mary, we received Jesus your Son whose birth has made all things new for us here on earth.

What does Mary teach us about the Eucharist? What does the Eucharist teach us about the Mother of Christ? Is Mary here with us now? Was Mary at the Upper Room when Jesus instituted this sacrament? Was Mary at the Last Supper?

To the last question "Was Mary at the Upper Room at the Last Supper?" our first reply must be "The gospels are quiet about it." The gospels do not say she was not there; neither do the gospels declare her presence. Blessed John Paul II answered the question for us by saying "Although the gospels are silent about the presence of Mary at the first Eucharist, in my heart I know that Mary was the Last Supper."

Let us reflect on the words of Jesus "This is my Body ... This is my Blood!" Where did Jesus get that body but from the body of Mary! Where did Jesus get that blood but from the blood of Mary! He was born from the Virgin! The Virgin whose body has never been known by man; the Virgin whose every drop of life blood has been dedicated to God, allowed her body to become the tabernacle of God for nine months. Indeed, the Body of Christ is the body of Mary. The Blood of Christ is the blood of Mary. Was Mary at the first Eucharist? I answer with another question "How can Mary not be there?" She must be there because the Eucharist is the reason why the Son of God wanted to become man—so that He can give us His body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

The Eucharist is the love of Jesus for us at its highest and deepest. Jesus is able to show us this depth and height of His love because He has a Body like us human beings, that Body he received from the body of His Virgin Mother. Do you understand how much Jesus loves you? Brethren, you will never completely understand how much God loves you in the Eucharist because if you would understand, you would die. Your mind is too small and your heart is too little to fully understand how much Jesus loves you through the Eucharist.

Do you understand what power is given to us by God in the Eucharist? The Eucharist has power to change the cosmos. The Eucharist has power to change society. The Eucharist has power to change all of us. We have within our hands and in our hearts the singular secret for the transformation of society—the Eucharist. If our devotion to Mary will have any impact for social engagement and cosmic transformation, that power cannot come from this woman but from her Son. How are we to use the power of the Body of Christ for total human development and human liberation?

The Eucharist and our Lady teach us that the most powerful person is the most generous person. There is power in giving. This world is weak because it seeks its power in grabbing. This society is a slave of its own obsession to get more, to gain more, to accumulate more. If the Church is to be an instrument of true social change, it must heroically teach society that there is no greater love than to die for your beloved and the one who stoops down to give humble service is the greatest of all. People who do not give do not get richer; they die early. They die even if they are still alive because they have lost the meaning of living which is giving. God started the cycle of giving by sending us His only Son. Mary joined the bandwagon of giving by giving her yes, her body, her soul, herself to the plan of God. We can change the world and set our society free from all its enslavements by proclaiming the value and beauty and power of selfless giving. There can be no true liberation without giving. There can only be true development if we give like Jesus and Mary.

To the secularism and materialism that is almost omnipresent like God, the Eucharist and our Lady offer a deep sense of mystery. When we lose the sense of mystery, we lose our sense of wonder and awe. We are no longer captivated by visions and dreams and we live like a people with nothing to look forward to. The dollar is almighty and the bullet solves all problems. The self is number one and what cannot be seen does not exist. When we forget the joy of kneeling down caught in awe and captivated by the sacred, we also lose the joy of living. This world has enslaved itself to materialism and pragmatism. Society needs to be set free from its enchainment to a God less ideologies.

Lastly, the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary can bring the world and our society a sense of freedom by proclaiming the gospel of presence. The onset of the internet and computer generation has also opened a new chapter in human history called virtual presence. Our loved ones are absent to us. We have become comfortable with distances and separation. Absence does not hurt anymore. Children do not play games with one another anymore. The computer is their playmate. The teacher is a robot. Everything is available from the clicking a button. This age of absence has also made us more impatient and stressed. The Eucharist is presence. It is a presence of love. It is presence in patience. It is a presence in trust and faith. Nearness and presence is a message of love. Although travel and communication has become so much easier, people have become more isolated and loneliness has spread more. The world needs to be liberated from the loneliness and depression. It needs to hear the gospel of presence. Presence and love go together always.

If the Church is to be an instrument of social change, liberation and real development, it must offer a new world for the modern man. A world liberated from commercialism and materialism and loneliness can only come about by embracing the gospel of giving, the gospel of mystery and the gospel of presence.

Later as you receive the Lord’s Body in Holy Communion, speak to Him from your heart. As He gives Himself to you, may you learn the art of giving so you may love like Him. As He comes to you in mystery, may your faith in Him even more grow. As he stays with you and shows you His loving presence, may you bring that same to all so that His love may be present to all.

 

Dear Mary, thank you for giving Jesus your body so He can give His body to me.

 

Amen.

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