” Mary arose and went with haste.” – Lk 1:38
With profound joy we greet and address you, our Young People in the Philippines as we celebrate the National Youth Day 2022, this December 16th, the first day of our traditional Aguinaldo Masses and Simbang Gabi.
The spirit of Advent and the Aguinaldo Masses are of expectation and anticipation. We accompany the Blessed Virgin Mary as she awaits giving birth to the child Jesus. There is joy in the certainty of the coming of the Messiah, as proclaimed by John the Baptist.
Providentially, we also look forward to the resumption of face-to-face events and activities at the national level, God-willing. And we anticipate the World Youth Day in 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, with the theme: “Mary arose and went with haste” [Lk 1:38].
This anticipation or waiting is not something passive or sterile. It is an active engagement and immersion into the story of our faith, to be plunged into the mystery of our salvation, that is, God’s love.
Mary, after giving her ‘Fiat’, went in haste to visit Elisabeth. Her ‘yes’ moved her to get involved and to support. Her visit to Elizabeth was an evangelizing one. And Elizabeth recognized that something beautiful was happening. The infant in Elizabeth’s womb recognized the Holy One in the womb of Mary.
Dear Young People, a meaningful expectation of what is to come is not simply to wait. It is to engage and get involved with the present with joy. It is to face the present challenges responsibly. Our efforts are limited, of course. But when we wholeheartedly give the little that we have to God, He does wonders with what we entrust to Him.
Let us wait wholeheartedly, purposively and responsibly. The advice of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans is a good instruction and reminder: “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” [Rom 12:11-12].
In our time, we speak of agility as a needed skill. This is due to the speed of changes around us and their complexity. We need to be agile, that is, the ability to take action in complex and rapidly changing conditions; to act with purpose and flexibility; able to work with others seeking solutions, constantly and continuously learning and changing. Mary went in haste. Yet, this was not a careless action. On the contrary, driven by sincere love and concern, she did not delay.
There is a continual change that is asked of us, the interior change, metanoia – change of heart, conversion. Given the many attractions and distractions, we need to keep our focus on the Lord Jesus and our brothers and sisters. St. Paul reminds us:Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.Rom 12:2
Dear Young People, let us resist the temptation of self-absorption. May we not be simply concerned with self-preservation. Rather, let us look at the needs of others as our own. This is exactly what Mary did when she arose in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She was conscious of the needs of her cousin Elizabeth. St. Paul continues: “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor” [Rom 12:9].
Let us strive to make haste in doing kind and good deeds; to make haste in consoling and supporting those in need; to make haste in attending to injustice; to make haste in contributing to the good of our communities; to make haste in humbly accepting our faults and weaknesses; to make haste in correcting our mistakes and showing resilience; to make haste in reaching out to those who are far and excluded; to make haste to collaborate with and accompany others. Let us make haste to realize our communion, to share responsibility and to go for mission; to make haste towards building God’s Kingdom.
As we all celebrate the National Youth Day, our prayer and wish for all is that we may all have the agility to face and address the rapidly changing challenges, keeping our minds, hearts and spirit focused on the Lord Jesus, Who comes to rescue us. Like Mary, may we all hasten in love to help out those in need, for we are all brothers and sisters.
God bless you!
+ Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, DD
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth
Bishop of Daet
2022 December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Youth Ministry Week (December 09-15)