MANILA, Nov. 10, 2013—A high-ranking official of the Catholic Church on Saturday called on the Filipino faithful to follow the example set forth by the Blessed Virgin Mary in sharing and passing on their Catholic faith to others.
Speaking before participants of the First Saturday Marian Conference, Tagle urged the laity not just to open themselves to the call of the Lord, but also to respond to it by acting toward the fulfillment of His plan.
“For Mary, the beginning is listening to God who has a beautiful plan that we call salvation for the whole world, for the whole of Christians, and for the whole of creation,” Tagle said in his talk dubbed as “Mary, Star of the New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith” held at the San Carlos Seminary.
“God speaks, but will we listen? God utters a word, but will we hear? In the case of Mary, there was this disposition of listening…because she was immaculately conceived, she had this disposition of openness to God’s communication,” he added.
However, Tagle said that listening does not simply mean hearing the Lord’s call, but having a certain focus and attentiveness that is tantamount to actively searching for God’s communication.
“It is not just the ear that listens. The heart continues to listen, even to the words that the ear and the mind cannot comprehend. It is the continuous listening and absorbing of the message, eventually keeping it as a treasure,” he said.
“Who can evangelize? Who can transmit the faith? Like Mary, only the hearer and the listener of the word of God…May I invite all of us not only to develop this desire to listen to God’s word but to help others develop this disposition of listening,” he said.
Noting the great fascination of Filipinos to telenovelas (television series), Tagle urged the laity to instead channel their attentiveness to the realization of the true meaning of scriptures.
“We have the capacity to listen, but we are selective. How come we can memorize lines in the telenovelas that we watch…I hope that we would be able to bring such kind of attentiveness and receptiveness to the word of God,” he said.
Recognizing inability, limitations
The cardinal added that humans must be able to recognize their personal weaknesses so they may be able to let the Holy Spirit come upon them and work upon their limitations.
Tagle urged the people to give not just a simple response to the Divine call, “but a response that recognizes their inability and limitations in fully fulfilling God’s word.”
“The response of Mary to what she heard is not one of pride…(It is) a response coming from realism and humility…Humility that is based on the truth about the self, about her condition…It is not because of her capacity, not because of her prowess, which she recognized as very limited, but by the power of the holy spirit,” he said.
Tagle urged the faithful to develop a combination of fruitfulness about oneself, not being stingy but being generous in giving oneself, knowing that the Holy Spirit will work.
“We learn from (Mary)—be humble, be generous, and let the Holy Spirit work in you, not the spirit of pride, self-promotion, not a spirit of moving oneself, but the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can make us like Christ,” Tagle noted.
Like the Blessed Mother who saw how God was at work in her life, the laity must also recognize the intervention of the Divine in their day-to-day journey, according to Tagle.
“In her prayer of praise to God, she did not only see how God was working in her life. Through her, she was assured that God was at work in her people, especially the poor, the hungry. God will give food to the hungry and send the rich empty away,” he said.
“This act of solidarity led Mary, in her Magnificat, to show another sign of solidarity—solidarity with the people in Israel, to which she belongs,” he added.
Tagle emphasized the importance of solidarity and unity among the people in fulfilling the task of new evangelization, noting that it is through the example of Mary that the people are convinced how the Lord expresses love to His people.
“Part of evangelization is solidarity with those who are in need…Solidarity with the many poor and hungry in the land. Through the lips of Mary, hope for the poor is proclaimed,” he said.
“She’s telling the poor and lowly to believe in God, to look at her for she is a living proof that God loves us. She is testifying based on her own experience,” he added.
Coping with the darkest moment
In coping with the challenges that weaken one’s faith, Tagle called on the laity to act upon the word of God through imitating the loyalty manifested by the Blessed Mother.
“It is not enough to hear the word of God and respond to it by agreeing…A true disciple is someone who hears the word and does the word,” he said.
According to Tagle, the Blessed Mother remained loyal to her son and kept listening to His words in the midst of all the uncertainties and confusion that filled her.
“When other people were denying Jesus as a friend, as a companion, she was proclaiming, ‘This is my son and I will remain here, I will behave as his mother. If you’ll arrest me, then arrest me. I am his mother.’ She kept listening and doing the will of God until the end,” Tagle said.
He added: “Even at the darkest moment…one must be able to preach whether convenient or inconvenient, in season or out of season, whether it is the joy of Bethlehem or the darkness of the cross. Listen to the word of God and act on it.”
During times when one’s faith weakens, Tagle said the faithful must not lose hope that the Lord will fulfill what must be done at the right time.
“Hope is the humble stance of someone who knows God is dependable, but God cannot be constrained by us. I depend on God but He has His time, He has his ways, He has His hour. He will fulfill it, but I have to wait,” he said.
According to Him, prayer is an essential part of evangelization and the transmission of faith, noting that it is through living a life of prayer that the Holy Spirit may lead the people to Jesus.
“We listen to Mary, we listen to her example, we enter her heart. By the power of the Holy Spirit, even if faith is not clearly stated in scriptures, if we know the whole of the Catholic traditions, we can surmise that these are part of the memories of the faith of Mary transmitted to us,” he said.
“Like her, we should listen, we should respond in humility and generosity, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, being in solidarity with the poor and the suffering, bringing Christ who is truly good news to the poor, acting on the word that we have heard, praying hard, and waiting in hope for the fulfillment of the promise,” he added. (Jennifer Orillaza)