What is your wish this season?
Homily from Fr. Mario Francisco, S.J. on January 1, 2018, Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, at the Cenacle Retreat House.
I pose what may seem an unlikely question to each of you, from the youngest in body to the young at heart: What is your wish this season? I ask this because this season makes sense only for those who wish. It could be anything from the priced/ prized—like a housedress with a euro pricetag (no names) to what an old Mastercard ad calls that which is priceless .
Our usual measure of joy this season is the match between what we wish for and what we receive, between promise and fulfilment. Thus we count our blessings – heartfelt laughter with family and friends, health in body and spirit, broken hearts mended and hurts forgiven, fruitful ministries, generosity for those in need. We have indeed much to be joyful about .
But what gives if wish and gift, promise and fulfilment do not match? I suppose you remember one gift you wished for but did not get. That unfulfilled wish could sow seeds of disappointment and blame at those we call “walang isang salita” —first at Santa Claus and then when we’ re older, parents. This broken promise could multiply hidden in our selves, and grow from tampo or mahay into resentment and anger, hitting at close targets, like those around us or at long-range, at life in general. Thus the world becomes a garden overgrown with broken vows, painful secrets , campaign promises , bullying posts and fake news weeded backyard where words betray and stifle.
Does this season’ s meaning vanish into thin air for those of us left with empty words in this earth—patch outside Eden? We know that God comes to us at this season , not as Santa Claus, not as the All-Powerfu1 and the All-Wealthy but as Word, the Word spoken by the Father. He spoke before through others – prophets, holy women and men of Israel – but now, he gives us his Word—the only Word more solid than anything in the universe, because it is not thin air but made visible, made flesh and this Word’s promise never broken. As we say, “Ang kanyang pangako’y hindi kailanman mapapako [His promise will not be nailed and remain just a promise] ” although we know too that this Word would be nailed on the cross as fulfilment of his promise .
My dear friends, with this singular gift to us of God’s only-begotten Word made solid in the flesh in Jesus, human words, our very words, though flimsy and fragile , gain weight, because Jesus spoke with these same words to family and followers, to the suffering and the powerful, to little children and to his heavenly Father. Let us then echo his voice and speak to each other, face to face or in digital space, with words of truthfulness and fidelity of generosity and compassion .
This season we have great reason to be joyful. We express thanks for countless gifts and fulfilled wishes . But more than wish fulfilment and most of all, we sing our gratitude for the unbroken promise of God’ s Word made flesh and for the worth and weight that it gives our own fumbling words to each other .