The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Tuesday, Simbang Gabi 6, 21 December 2021 Zephaniah 3:14-18 ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*> Luke 1:39-45
You must be wondering why we have the story again of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth on this sixth day of our Simbang Gabi after listening to it twice over the weekend. As I have told you, beginning December 17 our liturgy shifts focus on the days leading to the first Christmas with each date having its fixed readings and prayers; yesterday, we heard the story of the Annunciation to Mary that is immediately followed by her Visitation of Elizabeth.
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste t a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.Luke 1:39-40
Let us rewind to yesterday’s scene: after Mary had given her “fiat” or “faithful yes” to God to become the mother of Jesus, Luke simply said “Then the angel departed from her” and then “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth (Lk.1:38, 39-40).”
See the remarkable maturity in faith of Mary who must have been 16 years old at that time that she immediately went to visit Elizabeth without anyone guiding or accompanying her to share in the joy of her cousin’s pregnancy. Without any intentions of putting down the most blessed Joseph her husband who had a more difficult manner of receiving the Annunciation in a dream, an angel continued to appear to him to guide him at least four times. But with Mary, she was left alone by the angel. She literally had to walk the path with eyes of faith in God and in Jesus Christ all her life here on earth.
When I was about to receive my First Holy Communion in 1973 while at Grade 2, my parents drilled into me the great responsibility I shall have in receiving the Body of Christ. They told me that since I will be having Christ in me in the Holy Communion, I have to be always good because my guardian angel would be leave me to decide on my own.
Of course, I never questioned them especially my mom even if she would remind me to call on my “angel dela guardia” when all the while they were telling me he was gone.
Now that I am a priest and supposed to know more than them about angels who never actually leave us, it is still very interesting to reflect Luke’s report how the “angel departed Mary” after the Annunciation and left her on her own throughout her life.
Here we find anew the artistry of Luke and let us “photoshop” it with GMA-7’s talent search a few years ago called “Starstruck”: the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus in her womb visiting her old and barren cousin Elizabeth on the sixth month of pregnancy with John the Baptizer.
Two women of matured faith who were “starstruck” with God’s wondrous works because they both “dreamed, believed, and lived”— not “survived” as they did not merely overcome the trials and difficulties of child-bearing but lived in fulfillment and holiness. We are told again today how Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit at Mary’s visitation and tomorrow we shall hear the Blessed Virgin singing her praises to God with her Magnificat.
After giving birth to Jesus Christ, Luke would continue to tell us how Mary always believed in “what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled,” presenting her as the original listener and doer of the Word of God. No wonder in John’s Gospel, she would remain standing under her Son’s Cross because she had always believed. And no wonder too that in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, Jesus appeared first to Mary because she had always believed in His words He would rise again which became the basis of our Easter “salubong.”
In one of his homilies during the Year of Faith, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said that to have faith in God is the starting point of everything in life. According to him, one of the tragedies of modern society is the lack or even denial of the supremacy of God. Benedict explained that belief in God is the source of all truths about man because it is only God Who truly gives meaning and direction to our lives.
How sad that despite the affluence and too much material things in the world today, man seems to be never contented; in fact, we have become empty and lost more than ever as we look at the countless problems and miseries we are into like this COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, plus those found in our family and home, office and community, country and the world.
Worst is how we also “pervert” our religious beliefs because of too much faith in our selves than in God, making religion an excuse to amass wealth and power by sowing hatred to others.
Imagine the many darkness in Mary’s life “without the angel by her side” and had to ponder and rely, believe always in the words she had received in the Annunciation.
To truly receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we must first believe in His words, that He is the Bread from heaven, our Bread of life. For all the darkness in our lives, in our family, in our society, we need to go back to God Whom we have always left behind, ignored and even rejected or ridiculed. For all our dreams, let us believe in God like Mary and Elizabeth to start living in fulfillment despite the many difficulties we are into. A blessed Tuesday to you!