June 22, 2020 – Monday 12th Week in Ordinary Time
5th day of Novena in preparation for the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062220.cfm)
A week ago I met few members of the Redemptorist Youth Ministry here in our Parish to review our youth programs and align them to adapt in this current situation. It was a moment of reconnecting with them as this Corona Virus Disease brought disorder to our lives. Somehow meeting them gave me also an opportunity as a pastor to realize how they have been coping and adjusting themselves in this “new normal.”
They have learned a lot and made more connections with their families as the quarantine gave more chances to them to be with their families. Sadly, because also of the lockdowns and quarantines some of those who are working among them have lost their jobs, their business and felt uncertain of their employment status.
However, despite these challenges many of them also found ways on how to go beyond from themselves and be in service of others. This is what I find wonderful because the present difficulties did not prevent them to be for others. Thus, they volunteered in their Barangay to distribute the relief goods and the Social Amelioration Program from the government. Though they received ungrateful responses and offensive reactions and complaints from people, with those whom they served, these did not stop them to volunteer.
During the Enhanced Community Quarantine also, a friend asked me to pray for a young person who is suffering from depression. She seemed to be so sad that her suicidal thoughts became frequent. People around her became disturbed and anxious of her situation because her posts in Social Media reveal her consciousness of ending her life.
A week ago also, one of my Redemptorist brothers shared with me how one of his former students ended his life by hanging himself. He remembered his student very well but did not see any hint that this would happen to him.
Few year ago also, when I was barely a year-old ordained priest, a father brought to me her daughter to help her. His college student daughter according to him was possessed by an evil spirit. She changed voices and seemed to be so angry. She also claimed to see ghosts around that haunted her day and night. However, when I talked to her personally without the presence of her father, everything was revealed. She was in depression. She was bullied at school. She was traumatized by the separation of her parents and was in deep pain for being left behind by her mother.
These are just my few encounters with my co-young people who are facing with issues and challenges in their life.
On this fifth day of our Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we are invited to reflect with the young people today with our theme, “Our Mother of Perpetual Help: Source of Help to the Youth of today confronted with so many issues and challenges.”
There are countless students who come to the novena on Wednesdays and offer their prayers before the Icon of Our Mother. I witnessed this, not just here in Davao but also in Cebu, in Iloilo and most especially in Baclaran. Students would write their petitions to the Mother to help them find ways to pay for the tuition fees, or their rent, or to pass their board exams. Many also would go to the Mother as they were in trouble with their love life, friends and family or when they experience anxiety at school and at home. Many also would ask petitions to the Mother to help them find a job, for material blessings and courage as they embark into another phase of their life.
What is it that draws these young people to Our Mother of Perpetual Help?
Many times the young are misunderstood by those people around them. This misunderstanding must be rooted from the gap between generations where the older ones insist that the young is so much different from their ways when these older generation were ones young. Thus, there is always a tendency among the older generations to impose their ways to the young. Hence, in such situation there will be no room anymore for a young person to be himself or herself. This become a source tension, a source of misunderstanding and a source of judging.
Moreover, young people who are at the comfort of their families would sometimes find home to be unwelcoming. Home is supposed to be where we can really be, where we feel most secured, loved and cherished. Yet, many of our homes are broken and wounded. Parents who became irresponsible and abusive cause so much pain, anxiety and hopelessness to the young. Family members who have grown to become indifferent to one another could sometimes bring a confused and traumatized young person into desperation. These unwelcoming situations at home do not provide opportunities for a young person to be listened to, to be heard and to be understood.
Last December during Christmas day, my niece shared to me how a friend of her spent the Christmas Eve at 7/11 because her home was not anymore a home. Despite the presence of others at home, she felt alone. While we were enjoying the company of our loved ones at home in that most joyful night, a young person spent the night alone.
That is why, Mary’s presence is so captivating because she listens. She does not react out of impulse or emotion. Mary does not judge. She understands because she discerns. The Gospels would tell us that Mary would keep everything in her heart. The very presence of Mary is a comfort and a source of help indeed.
Jesus, in our Gospel today, reminds us not to pass quick judgments but rather to be more discerning. To be discerning is to be welcoming because we allow God to be part on how we approach a person or a situation by also looking at ourselves. Jesus warns us when we become self-righteous, an attitude that believes that we are exempted of any fault and failures. Thus, to discern then is a humble way of acknowledging our own shortcomings and failures so that we will be able to relate with others in a loving and compassionate way.
Our devotion to Mary, then, calls us also to become more discerning in our relationships. Parents are called especially to be more discerning of their words and actions as they provide opportunities for growth to the young. Relate with them as friends not as superiors who will impose your ways to them. Caress them with your comfort and avoid judging quickly their ways and actions.
Thus, as a community devoted to Mary, let us be more discerning that we may become more understanding and compassionate to the young who are especially confronted with so many issues and challenges.
Hopefully, in this way then, we as devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we too will become a source of help to the young. Hinaut pa. Viva Maria! Viva Hesus!
Jom Baring, CSsR