Homily by Fr. Rafael Eloriaga, CM on the 3rd day of Triduum for the 351st Baptismal Anniv. of Ven. Ignacia del Espiritu Santo
Topic: Ignacia's Advocacy for the Poor
03 March 2014
Good morning. Reflecting on the topic given me today which is Ignacia’s Advocacy for the Poor, I would like to stress one characteristic that I think is central in her advocacy for the Poor. It is Incarnational! And it could be seen even in the beginnings of her vocation and like. How she put on Christ! How she lived like Christ! Contemplating and centering her life on the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Ignatian way, she imitated Jesus through a life of obedience, poverty, and fidelity.
Through a life of obedience
Under Fr. Paul Klein, SJ, it is said that Mother Ignacia underwent the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola in order to authentically discern the life she called to live for.
As a result of her solitude and prayer, it is said that Mother Ignacia decided “to remain in the service of the Divine Majesty” and “to live by the sweat of her brow.”
“To remain in the service of the Divine Majesty” and “to live by the sweat of her brow,” these two phrases, I believe, continue to define and design the way you live your lives today as members of the RVM Congregation, especially in the area of apostolic service and witnessing.
Two phrases that continually challenge you to obey the will of the Father, like Jesus obeying His Father’s will from his incarnation to his act of redemption.
Two phrases that help you remain in God’s presence and majesty, in the pureness of your heart following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Through a life of poverty
Armed with only a needle and a pair of scissors, she left her family and courageously lived alone at the back of the Jesuit College of Manila.
Indeed, how easy it was for her to leave everything behind for the Lord! Except perhaps for the very talent and treasure that she is to give back to the Lord: her sewing. For through it, she then would serve the poor (especially the women who would learn her craft) and the Church.
In our Gospel today, from Mark 10, quite the contrary happened: the rich man failed to let go of his material possessions, so he went away sad, leaving the Lord behind.
Jesus then remarked, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God… it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Knowing that in spiritual and material poverty she will be one with Jesus, how she endured then the many difficulties she encountered in her new found vocation and life.
Together with her beatas, later on, during times of extreme poverty, how they begged for rice and salt, and said to scour the streets for firewood. How they continue to labor hard to support themselves, while at times receiving financial help from pious people.
Despite all, Mother Ignacia and her beatas persevered! And continued to thank God and to trust in His divine providence.
In our first reading for today from 1 Peter, Peter said that, “There is cause for rejoicing here.” In the life of Mother Ignacia and the beatas, they may have for a time suffered the distress of many trials, but this is so that their faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears.
Like Jesus who in his poverty made us all rich, Mother Ignacia, in her poverty, contributed riches to the Church in fulfillment of the Kingdom of God in this world.
Finally, through a life of fidelity
What sustained Mother Ignacia, I believe, in her humble service to others and to God, was her life of prayer and penance.
In the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of St. Luke, we find Jesus praying especially at important points in his ministry (e.g. at baptism, at the choice of the 12, before Peter’s confession, at the transfiguration, when he teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, at the Last Supper, on the Mount Olives, and on the cross).
But more than her efforts of course, what complete her sustenance, was the abiding presence and love of God.
God saw her faithfulness even in difficulties that he compensated her with His own.
Our Responsorial Psalm today from Psalm reminds us of God’s fidelity and love. It says, “The Lord will remember his covenant forever.”
Today, to all of us here, we continue to take inspiration from the life of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. If we desire to be fruitful in our advocacy for the poor, let us not forget, that we have to start being poor first ourselves in obedience of fidelity to God’s will. Let Jesus be incarnated in our lives; let us be jesus’ incarnate. Amen.