Homily of his Excellency, Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara, D.D., on the occasion of the 5th Vocation Festival held at St. Paul College Pasig last Nov. 10, 2012.
I’m sure during this whole day, you have heard, you have listened, and you have gained a lot. There are many graces coming from the Lord that you have received. After all, the Vocation Festival has been successful because of the Lord who has been with us. And therefore we just have to thanks the Lord for the gifts of his presence during this whole day. Palakpakan natin muli ang Panginoon!
I’d like to give three very powerful teachings on our readings today with three catch words; the first is gerenerosity, the second is providence and the third is entrustment. Three words I want you to carry as you go back home. And I’m sure these three powerful words will also speak about vocation. In our first reading and in our Gospel, I think it’s quite clear that when we look at the image of the widow, in biblical literature, widows and orphans in Hebrew are called the anawim or poor of Yahweh. They are people who perhaps are relying simply on the grace of God. They are helpless people and they are those who so even perceive as hopeless ones. That’s why they are the poor of Yahweh. But you see, they were challenged to do one thing – they were challenged to be generous. And look at the experience of Elijah with the widow in Zarephath; he was asking for the only bread that would sustain her and her child for the day. But Elijah with the promise of God said, “Don’t worry. There will be more in your jar and you will not go hungry.” So the widow was generous in giving all that she had. And that’s what Jesus was saying in the Gospel, “This poor widow gave what she had,” just perhaps two pennies or two worthless coins - the only thing that she had, but she had the generosity to give everything.
Yan po yung hamon sa atin - generosity of mind, of heart, and of will to give everything to God. Lalo na ngayon napakahirap maging generous. Obserbahan niyo at mahirap ang mawalan ng pera sa bulsa. Kahit isang barya kailangan meron ka para sa pamasahe. Aalis ka ba ng bahay ng walang-wala? Syempre kahit kaunting pera, kailangan meron ka. Kahit obispo, pari, madre, minsan naghahanap ng security kaya mahirap basta ibigay lahat – lahat lahat.
And I think this is something that is an image and a teaching called to us by our Lord. Since everything came from God, can you be generous to give back everything to Him? We do not own anything; we do not own our lives. Sabi nga, “We live borrowed lives.” In our identity as gifts, we are all gifts and if we are all gifts, therefore we should be gifts to others; we should be generous. But I think the challenge is more than material generosity; it is the generosity of self. How can you have a generous, self-giving heart? Maraming hamon iyan sa maliliit na bagay sa buhay. Generous ka ba with your time, talent, sa family mo, sa kaibigan mo, sa pag-aaral mo bilang kabataan sa eskwela o kuripot ka pagdating dyan? I think the Lord challenges us to generosity.
Why? I think the second teaching is very real and the teaching is providence. We are motivated to be generous because we have a providential God – God who will always provide. In the first reading, the prophet said, “Don’t worry you will not be hungry.” And true enough. Everyday there was something in that basin and that jar. Just when she thought she gave all, God gave everything. Ganun ang Diyos, akala natin pinag-aabot-abot natin, ang totoo, pinag-aabot-abot ng Diyos. Have you ever been in a crisis situation? Akala mo hindi mo kaya, pero nakaya mo pala – God provided, God always provide. Tingin mo kulang na kulang pero pinupuno pa rin ng Diyos. That’s how God loves us. He will always fill what is lacking. And not only that, when God fills up, it will be overflowing. Akala mo lang ang ibibigay niya ang mapuno. Hindi, paaapawin pa niya. That is God’s providence. Kaya hindi nagkukulang ang Diyos. Maaaring involved ang iba sa inyo sa mga ministry niyo sa parish o sa school, may mga projects kayo. Yung mga pari at madre, may gawain sa simbahan. Minsan akala natin di natin kaya. But God provides. Kinakaya ng Diyos para sa atin, and this leads to the final point - entrustment.
What made the poor widow gave all she had compared to the rich people who gave from their surplus? And the catchword is entrustment. Ibibigay ang dalawang kusing at sasabihin sa panalangin, “Lord, bahala ka na. I entrust myself to you because I know that You will make miracles to me. You will make all things even though impossible possible for me.” Yan ang entrusment, ipinagkakatiwala mo ang buo mong sarili sa Diyos. Diyan tayo kulang na kulang, kasi, we trust so much for ourselves, kaya hindi tayo makapagbigay ng buo. Minsan, gusto natin itira naman ang kaunti para sa sarili, kahit kalahati. Marami sa atin akalang may sense of security, insecurity pala, insecure kasi pinagtitiwalaan ang security para sa sarili lamang. When you entrust, you realize that God is in charge. And I think that is the challenge of this vocation festival. God is generous and we live borrowed lives. We are gift and everything we have is a gift. We do not own anything and whatever we can do is because of God. God provides even what is lacking and gives more. So, whatever God is calling you, entrust to Him because if you’re being called to priestly or religious life, the challenge is entrustment.
Kanina po bago po ako nag-talk sa inyo ininterbyu ako ng ating mga media persons. Tinatanong nila sa akin about vocations at papano na nga ba tinutugunan ang kakulangan sa mga pagpapari’t pagmamadre. May crisis ba, parang yung iba ayaw nang magpari o magmadre? Kung paano kukumbinsihin ang mga kabataan sa totoo lang ay napakahirap.
Naalala ko tuloy yung mga magulang natin nung bata pa tayo, tinatanong tayo o patuloy na tinatanong anong gusto natin maging paglaki natin. Bihira ang magsasabing “Gusto kong mag-pari o gusto kong magmadre.” Minsan nga yung mga magulang, pagtinanong, ayaw din nila. Kayong mga magulang, anong gusto niyo sa mga anak ninyo? Gusto ko maging mayamang negosyante, maging successful accountant, engineer, maging presidente ng kumpanya o maging artista. Pero bihira yung magpari o magmadre. Pagmeron siyang anak na pangit, “O ikaw, magpari ka nalang” o “Ikaw magmadre ka na lang.” What will you give to God? We should give the best to God. Pero magandang pag-isipan di ba? Kayo, anong option niyo sa buhay - magpari, magmadre o yung what is popular in the world?
I’d like to end by sharing you my vocation story. Tatanungin niyo, bakit ka ba nagpari, Bishop? Ano bang nangyari sa iyo? Ang nagplano sa buhay ko ay ang Diyos.
You will ask me, “Naisipan mo magpari, Bishop, nung nag-aaral ka?” Napag-isipan ko. Pero yung vocation story ko malalim ang pinag-ugatan. Napakalalim.
I remember when I was having a retreat, I went as far back as the womb of my mother. Kasi nung nabubuhay pa yung lola ko naikuwento niya sa akin na yung nanay ko na panganay sa kanila, noon daw na isinilang siya ay nakapalupot ang umbilical cord sa leeg at halos namamatay na raw. Di ba delikado yun? Ayon sa mga matatanda basta may sinilang daw na ganun lalaki o babae, ang tawag nila parang “rosary” sa leeg. Kaya kasabihan daw ng mga matatanda, “magmamadre yan o magpapari yan.” My mother is a very religious person pero hindi siya nagmadre. Ako ang nagpari at ako lang sa aming magkakapatid. Kaya siguro, noong sinauna pa, pinapaplano na ng Diyos. Even from the womb of my mother I was already being form by God to become a priest.
Pero hindi pa natatapos yun, meron pa akong interesting scoop sa inyo. Alam ninyo, noong mag-aaral na po ako ng Grade School doon sa Ateneo de Manila, bumagsak po ako sa entrance exam. Totoo po yan. I failed in the entrance exam for grade school. During that time and this is what my father told me, my grandfather was close to the bishop of Cabanatuan City, Neuva Ecija – the late Archbishop Gaviola. Sabi ng lolo ko, “Tignan natin kung makakapag-appeal tayo at baka maawa sa akin.”
So they went to the Grade School at yung namumuno noong Jesuit o Head Master ang tawag, in reviewing my case, sabi niya dahil I was five (5) years old then at wala pa akong kaisip-isip, “Give me one good reason why should I accept this boy in this school; one good reason and I will reconsider him.”
Sabi ni Archbishop Gaviola, “This is my reason - I have a mission for this boy.” And you know what the head master has said? He said, “accepted.” At hindi niya tinanong kung ano yung mission kung mission impossible. Tinanggap ako, pero alam niyo, yung first two years ko sa Grade School, talagang halos nasa borderline ang mga grades ko, wala akong line of eight (8) puro line of seven (7). Totoo yan pag tiningnan nyo yung report card ko. Hirap na hirap ako. Talagang hindi ko alam kung makakalusot ako.
So to cut the long story short, I was ordained a priest in 1990. And you know before ordination, I had this priestly retreat of preparing for ordination at the Carmelite Monastery in Lipa, Batangas. Ang Obispo nun at that time was Archbishop Gaviola and I wrote to him the circumstances of my vocation. Nagrespond siya in writing and said, “I remember well, and I thank God that you will become a priest - mission accomplished.” Moral of the story - you never know where you will be, be generous of yourself, rely on God’s providence, entrust to Him and you will be happy. /dpoc20130106
log: Bishop's message / Homilies 2013