Be Young. Be Renewed. Be Life-Giving

November 9, 2020 – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome and Foundation Day of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

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Homily on RYM Day of Prayer

Today is a joyful and wonderful day that aside from celebrating the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, which is the Cathedral of Pope Francis, and which is also called as the “Mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world,” we Redemptorist Missionaries are also celebrating our 288th birthday!

On this day, St Alphonsus together with the first members of the Redemptorists, founded the Congregation in the Island of Scala, Italy in 1732. For 288 years, God’s faithfulness and generosity manifested in the life of the Congregation in many ways. This experience with God has been shared in many missions and apostolate of the Redemptorists throughout the world.

One of the most important missions of the congregation where God’s faithfulness, generosity and abounding love being shared, is the Youth Ministry. That is why, this livestreaming mass today is dedicated to our Redemptorist Youth Ministry, who in many parts of the Philippines have gathered today to celebrate November 9 as a Day of Prayer.

Yes, today is a Day of Prayer of the young gathered physically and virtually. This gathering is so significant because this Day of Prayer, on this wonderful day, it invites all of us to remind ourselves that we are God’s Temple and God’s holy people. Our readings today expressed this identity in us that we are indeed God’s Temple and God’s holy people.

For us to remember this and make this Day of Prayer more wonderful and powerful for us today, I have three invitations, something that you can bring and something you can celebrate.

First, BE YOUNG. Pope Francis reminds us that “God is Young and is always New.” This means that God really brings surprises and freshness in us because God is ever young. God will never have an expiration because God is always new. That is why, all of us who are God’s building and God’s Holy Temple as what St. Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians,  are called to be always young. Remember, we may grow old in age, however, to be “young at heart” is not limited to a particular age group. We may be young in terms of age, but when our heart is filled with anger and hatred, with bitterness and indifference, then, we have surely grown old. Moreover, to be advanced in age does not also mean that we will never be young at heart. Even when we have grown in age, a senior citizen may still be young at heart when he or she remains welcoming, warn-hearted, joyful and alert of God’s daily invitations. Let us remember the words of Pope Francis, “True youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old.” Thus, be young and celebrate being young at heart.

Second, BE RENEWED. As God is always new, God also brings fresh graces and fresh experiences. Our true relationship with God is always fresh, it will never be spoiled. Prophet Ezekiel tells us in the first reading that the water from the temple overflows and it reaches the barren and dry desert, and the water brings life. Salt waters also turn into fresh waters where every living creature shall live. This means that when we allow God’s love to transform us, to challenge and to call us, then God brings renewal into our dry and empty hearts. Hence, allow God today to reach our hearts to transform, challenge and call us  so that we will be renewed.

Third, BE LIFE-GIVING. Jesus came to give us life. Jesus manifested his life-giving mission in his ministry. That’s why when there were people who suck the life of others, Jesus also expressed dismay and disappointment. This is what happened in today’s Gospel. Jesus drove out the merchants and money-changers who were sucking up the life of the poor through their scandalous and oppressive business inside the Temple area. When we turn out to be driven by our selfish desires and selfish intentions, we will also become vicious in our relationship with people around us. When we are more concerned in bloating our ego then we turn out also to become abusive and corrupt because our heart has become indifferent to God.

However, such way of life is lonely because we will constantly be haunted by insecurity and fear. Certainly, there is no life here but sadness. Pope Francis in his latest Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti said, “go outside the self in order to find ‘a fuller existence in another.’ ” Meaning, that when we begin to think less of ourselves, to step outside our comfort zones, and outside our insecurities and fears, then, we also discover the fullness of life with the people around us. Thus, to experience truly what life is, is to be able to give life. When I commit myself fully to love another then I find joy and meaning in life. When I generously give something to someone in need, I do not only help a person but also experience the joy of helping another. Therefore, to live life joyfully and truly, is to be life-giving.

Now, may I repeat the three invitations on this Day of Prayer and birthday of our Congregation, BE YOUNG, BE RENEWED AND BE LIFE-GIVING. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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