God is good – homily at the Shrine of the Black Madona
God is good!
It’s my first visit to Poland. I feel I’m a Promdi Pilgrim: promdi because I come from Cebu Province. Promdi pagkat ako’y nalulula sa nakikita ko. Yesterday we were in the Wieliczka Salt Mine descending 440 feet underground. A lot of “what if” came to my mind – what if mag brown out, what if mg earthquake & we’ll be trap. Yet here we are still alive to see the light.
This experience is very overwhelming for me. I’m so amazed! My heart is full of joy and exaltation. Like Mary I would like to exclaim and explode in my own Magnificat – my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! That why I started with “God is good!” I choose to feed and to nourish my faith through this experience. I choose to learn and understand.
I have 3 reasons for the overwhelming experience:
1. We visited the chapel of the apparition and the tomb of St. Faustina – the Apostle of Mercy. I said to myself: and swerte mo Randy! I used to speak about her in my talks and homilies reading from a book; now I’ve come to the real thing. Reflecting on her life, Sr. Faustina was almost illiterate. She was turned down by several religious congregations because she was academically poor. But soon after entering the Congregations of the Sisters of Mercy, she began to receive visions of Jesus. She became the Apostle of Mercy throughout the world. God has a strong bias for the little ones. If you think you are “small” – congratulations. God loves you!
2. We visited the hometown and birthplace of the future Pope John Paul II. I was overwhelmed. He sparked the flame of my vocation. JP II was the reason why I became a priest. He was one of the biggest thing that ever happened to me. The story goes back in 1981 when he came to visit Cebu. I was observing the tarpaulins beside the basilica. To my dismay, nothing about the Philippines. Not even the World Youth Day 1995 was remembered when it gathered 5-7 million and considered as the largest single gathering in Christian history. My story may not be written in history but deep in my heart his visit changed my personal history. He made such a deep impact on me and my life story. I’m a fruit of his visit.
I was then a grade 6 student in USC. Our religion classes were discussions and stories about the pope. Our teacher asked us one time: who among you would like to become a priest?” I raised my hand to impress my classmates and my teacher hoping to get additional points in class. Other classmates also raised theirs. Perhaps they were thinking the same way. The teacher was delighted! But I realized – you can’t make jokes with God. Talagang tutuhanin Nya! Since I was willing He called me. Now I’m going 13 years in the Ministry.
3. We are in Poland’s holiest relic and one of the country’s national symbol – the Black Madonna. Legend says St. Luke the Evangelist made the icon from a cypress wood while Mary was narrating her experience of Jesus. According to one of the oldest document of Jasna Gora, the picture transferred ownership many, many times as it travelled from Jerusalem, to Constantinople (now Turkey) and finally it ended here in Czestochowa. This icon has been claimed to be miraculous. One of its famous intervention is saving the monastery of Jasna Gora in the 17th century from Swedish invasion known as “The Deluge.” For such a miracle King John II of Poland crowned the Black Madonna as “The Queen and Protector” of Poland in 1656.
The icon has 2 scars on her right cheek. The story is told that there was a religious war between Catholics and Protestants in 1430. Protestants stormed the monastery plundering it. One of the stolen item was this icon. Putting it in their wagon, the horses would not move. One guy threw the portrait on the ground while another d and drew a sword and inflicted 2 deep strikes on the Madonna’s right cheek. At that point he fell to the ground and squirmed in pain. So the men retreated and left the painting.
Before I came to Vienna, my younger sister experienced a miracle. On August 20 they boarded a bus on their way to a retreat with about 40 young people in Mantalongon, Dalaguete. The bus had an overheat and the driver opened the radiator which squirted burning him. He jumped off and the bus skidded downwards to a ravine 500 meters deep. In panic some students jumped off pushing my sister wounding her nose. Through Mary’s help, the bus was caught by a small tree preventing it from falling.
These experiences may seem very simple, common place and part of our iter. But its God way of telling us that He is acting in our lives. He is part of our journey, our pilgrim companion. Let us not take them for granted. We choose to understand and learn. We grown in faith. Let us really be thankful. God is with us. And He is infinitely and definitely good!Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.