The following homily was delivered by Fr. Ambrosio Flores, SJ last 17 August 2015 during the Grade School mass of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Three years after it took Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram by storm, #YOLO continues to be popular among teenagers today.¬† Let me give you some of them: Amusing?¬† Cool?¬† Perhaps.¬† But not all cool or amusing things are right and good.¬† A few minutes after tweeting this, he met his untimely death.
You Only Live Once.¬†From a simple motivational phrase like the Dead Poet Society‚Äôs Carpe Diem, it has become a problem.¬† It is used as an excuse to do wrong.¬†It is used to persuade others to do stupid stuff‚ÄĒthings teenagers would not normally do, actions that make them COOL but often times lead to things they regret later.¬†
Beneath the YOLO-ing gone wrong is the assumption that we own our lives.¬†We have every right to do what we want with it.¬† We are entitled to our life.¬† It is our own.¬† So, YOLO!¬† In contrast to this assumption, Mary, in the Gospel, sings ‚ÄúMy soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.¬† My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.‚ÄĚ¬† This verse reminds us of the true presupposition behind authentic YOLO.¬† ‚ÄúMy Savior has looked with favor on his lowly servant.‚ÄĚ¬† The keyword is FAVOR.¬†And what does favor mean?¬† It is something not earned.¬† It is not something we are entitled to have.¬† It is something freely given.¬†
Our life is a gift.¬† It is not our own.¬† It is God‚Äôs.¬† We cannot claim ownership because we are mere stewards of it.¬† We are not entitled to it because we do not deserve it.¬† Hence, YOLO is, in fact a grateful response to God‚Äôs favor, to God‚Äôs gift of life to us.¬† And so, YOLO as a grateful response means being rooted to the reason of our life.¬† St. Ignatius says, ‚ÄúThe human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul.¬† All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.‚ÄĚ
Look at Mary. She is the model of true YOLO.¬† She sees her life as a gift.¬† She effectively lives her life by being grateful for such gift.¬† Her life is a fitting praise to God her Creator.¬† Throughout her life on earth, she lives it to the full‚ÄĒYOLO, always saying yes to God in everything that she does.¬†
Mary is not any different from all of you (well, except that she is a girl and you are boys)!¬† She was a teenager when she gave her YES to the Lord and became the mother of our Lord.¬† She always seeks the will of the Father even when she finds it difficult.¬† We know her struggles as a mother to Jesus‚ÄĒwhom she bore as a teenager, who got lost in the temple, who reminded her that it is not yet time in the wedding at Cana, who went through his passion and death and resurrection.¬† It must have been difficult for Mary to understand all these.¬† Rather than being cool before her friends and doing her own way, however, Mary decides to keep everything in her heart trusting that the Giver of the one life she has, will see to it that her life is lived to the full.¬†
How about you? You Only Live Once. How are you living your life?¬† Are you obedient to your parents?¬† Do you follow school rules and regulations?¬† Are you kind to your siblings?¬† Are you respectful to your elders? Are you genuinely YOLO-ing?¬† Or are you just merely YOLO-swag-ging?¬†
Today‚Äôs celebration is a perfect reminder of what will happen to us if we truly YOLO.¬† The Solemnity of Mary‚Äôs Assumption to Heaven points to us what authentic YOLO can offer‚ÄĒour destiny as God designed it for us:¬† HEAVEN‚ÄĒeternal joy, love, belongingness, contentment, acceptance.¬† In short, yes, merong FOREVER.¬† KAPAG NAMUMUHAY KA SA TUNAY NA YOLO!¬† What, on earth, could be better than that?¬† Certainly, you do not want to exchange forever with the fleeting excitement over violating some rules.¬† Or trade heaven with the short-lived sense of seemingly gaining control with one‚Äôs life‚ÄĒof feeling like an adult, of being accepted, of being called cool.
Today‚Äôs celebration reminds us of our life and its ultimate destiny.¬†¬†YOLO, Mary did.¬† And Heaven, God rewards him.¬† Are YOu up for it?