Mary and the Youth

22 August 2008 Memorial of Mary the Queen
Luke 1, 26-38 Mary, Queen of the Young

Homily at the Parish of Mary, the Queen
“Let no one despise your youth, but become an example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim 4, 12)

Our images of Mary are usually one that is older: as mother, as queen, or as helper. But we forget that the most significant event in Mary’s life was during the Annunciation. It was her “yes” to God’s will that began the life of Jesus and made possible the Son being conceived by the Holy Spirit. The rest is history. However, it is significant for many of us to know upon what age did Mary agreed to become the Mother of God. Tradition has it that she was fifteen years old.

It is not uncommon that young people have been called to discipleship and leadership. Jeremiah, the prophet, was young, as well as Timothy, who became a great leader despite his youth. The reason is quite obvious: every young individual teems with potential and energy.

But Mary was also brave and daring. Mary took a great risk, a leap of faith, when she gave her consent. In Palestine, a woman who got herself pregnant without a husband was stoned to death. Nevertheless, she trusted God. People who think outside of the box believe that wherever they go they will find God as Psalm 134 reminds us.

Philippine leaders have been very young and daring as Mary. These Filipino heroes deserve what we call them. They were indeed brave. Jose Rizal wrote Noli Me Tangere at age 26. Through his writings, he inspired and encouraged Filipinos to stand up against colonial abuses, to developed themselves, and to assert their equality viz the Spanish colonizers. Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo awakened a Filipino giant from its sleep and highlighted the need for national reform. The Spanish branded his novels as subversive and had become the reason for someone to depart for another country. Because of his writings, he was killed in 1896. But his fire and zeal, opened the hearts of Andres Bonifacio who became the key figure in Philippine Revolution.

This is another characteristic of the young. They enkindle other fires. They inspire others. From the inspiration of Rizal, Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio were teenagers when they founded the Katipunan. Emilio Jacinto was 18 years old and became the brains of the Katipunan. And later, Emilio Aguinaldo became the first president of the Philippines at 30 years old.

When we celebrate Mary, the Queen, we should not forget her youth. Who we are today we owe to our youth. We should remember that we, adults, should listen to the young: they too possesses the Holy Spirit. They have something to say. We just don’t believe that they can say something sensible and better than ourselves. They can be heroes. They can change the world — in fact, they have all the power to change it. Isn’t it that it was Jose Rizal who said that the hope of our country lies with the young — almost a paraphrase of Timothy’s?

And how about us, the older generation? Our responsibility is to give the young the opportunities for leadership. Let us help build them up. Let us help them regenerate, re-invigorate and enrich them as much as we can. If we can only give them something to eat, while they work out their projects and organizations, that is already a great contribution. We have to accept that our energies are diminishing, that the world is changing, and though we can’t catch up with the rapid pace, we can however let the young explain things to us, and perhaps suggest how we can be young again.

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