WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOVE AND BEING LOVED?

December 21, 2022 – Sixth Day of the Misa de Aguinaldo

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/122122.cfm)

Before I begin my homily for this morning. I have a short exercise that I would like you to do first. This will hopefully keep you awake and make you more inspired as you start your day today.

So, I would like to invite those who are with their husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend to look at the eye of your beloved. Silently say, “I love you!” And for those who single and still waiting, you may close your eyes “na lang” and you may say loudly, “I love you self!” 😍

Being said that, may I present to you this question for reflection, “What does it mean then, to love and being loved?” I am sure you have your own answers to this based on your human experiences of loving and being loved. Yet, for today may I offer you my humble reflections of loving and being loved based on the readings we have on this sixth day of the Mise de Aguinaldo. Let us also see how the Lord calls us to be truly loving and be more confident in being loved.

Our first reading from the Book of Song of Songs wonderfully described to us the relationship between a lover and the beloved. What we have heard from the reading is that it’s filled with excitement (or kilig-moments) because of the longing to see the person being loved.

Thus, the lover calls the beloved in these wonderful invitations. The lover said, “Arise my beloved, come!” The lover is described to be like a small deer who was so excited and in its excitement would peep to have a glimpse of the beloved. The lover also said, “my beloved, see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth.” This calls the beloved to recognize that sorrow and grief is over and to embrace life and freedom. Finally, the lover said, “Let me see you. Let me hear your voice.” This is an expression of intimacy that longs for the beloved.

With these, I therefore conclude, how beautiful and wonderful it is to be in love! – to be filled with love, to be loved and to love! Isn’t it? But, friends, know that I am not just talking about romantic love, thought that’s part of it. Why? Because the Song of Songs by using the images of romantic love, reveals to us now that God is our lover who is more than excited to see us and to be with us. We are God’s beloved. We are the one being loved. And this beautiful Book of Song of Songs invites us to arise from sadness and embrace life. Indeed, the presence of the one who loves us brings comfort as well us life.

In response to God our lover, our Psalm today expresses our hope and longing for God. The people waits for God’s coming whose presence is the strength of the people. In that anticipation, joy can be felt, thus, a calling to rejoice and sing praises to God. This is wonderfully captured in the last verse, “Our soul waits for the Lord who us our help and our shield; for in him our hearts rejoice.”

This has been fulfilled and concretely manifested in today’s Gospel. We find Mary, a person who is filled with so much love, because in her womb, is love. The Gospel story today was right after the annunciation of the angel that Mary shall conceive a son and when she realized that it was indeed true. At that moment, Mary carried in her womb God’s concrete manifestation of love. And the love that Mary carried in her womb completely transformed Mary, her presence, her actions and her words.

At this point, I will be enumerating how Mary responded in loving and in being loved. In each response of Mary, I will be giving questions that would hopefully challenge us to respond in love.

The first response of Mary is, “she set out in haste.” Mary realized the need and assistance of her old cousin Elizabeth. This response of Mary tells us that she is a person who loves and arises for the sake of others. She is a person who loves and responds immediately to a particularly need. And she is a person who loves and moves out of the self. This is evident at how Mary travelled a long way from Nazareth to a town in the hill country of Judah. At that time, Mary possibly walked for about 130 kilometers to reach the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth.

In this first response of Mary, Pope Francis said in his message to the youth of the world, “Mary did not hold back or remain indifferent. She thought more of others that of herself.” And so in our way of loving, “Do we also move in haste in order to respond to the needs around us? Do we take the risk to go out of our own comfort and concerns for the sake of others? Or do we remain unmoved, more focused on ourselves and indifferent?”

The second response of Mary is, “she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Mary cared to enter into the life of others, bringing love. This is how we realize that the very presence of Mary in that house, brought life? How? At the greetings of Mary, the infant in the womb of Elizabeth leaped. It was a joyful reaction of the infant. Indeed, even at hat early moment, the infant John already recognized the fullness of life and love present in the womb of Mary.

And so in our way of loving, “Do our words bring comfort and assurance of love? Or do our words rather, become forms of insults, harassment and bitterness towards others? Does our presence gives confidence and love to others or rather brings fear, trauma and pain?”

The third response of Mary is, “Mary believed!” As to the words of Elizabeth, she said, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” This tells us that Mary’s faith brings forth life, concern and intimacy, care and gentleness. These become natural for Mary because first and foremost, her faith is motivated and inspired by love. Mary is filled with love. She is confident that the Lord loves her. Indeed, she believed! – because love has been fulfilled in her and that love is slowly taking a human form in her womb.

And so in our way of loving, “Has our faith been inspired and motivated by our love, of being loving and being loved? Does our faith also bring life, concern, care and gentleness? Or rather motivated by fear, guilt, fanaticism or superstition?”

As we bring to mind all these points for reflections, we may all be filled with love and be assured of that love so that like Mary, we too shall dare to move, respond and care for others. As we are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the love-made-flesh, may our way of loving then, be life-giving and love-fulfilling. Ok lang? Sana all.

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