July 18, 2018, 6:33 pm
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Listen and trust in God’s goodness

THE Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

“And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


Juan Luna, painter and hero, has a work of art that illustrates a Filipino couple having a lover’s quarrel. The man is trying to win back the attention of his lady love while the woman continues to manifest “disinterest.” This obra is entitled “Tampuhan.” “Tampo” is close to the English word “sulk.” However, while sulking is seen as a negative attitude in the West, “tampo” is seen as quite a positive in our culture because it implies an endearing persuasion to win back the person of interest (the nagtatampo). Its negative aspects only come when the person continues to resist expressions of affection and distances away from those who make the affective persuasion. That is why we call our loved ones and friends showing “tampo” as “tampororot.” This is our expression of “lambing” despite the awkward situation.

In our Christian faith, this cultural trait is also present. I have met several formerly active believers who have shied away from God and prayers because they felt God was not answering their supplications. God did not listen to them. Nagtampo sila sa Panginoon. 

Our readings today remind us not to make “tampo” to God. They tell how King David, Mama Mary, and St. Paul continued to show expressions of affection despite the paradoxes in their faith-journey. Their life-stories tell us, “Bawal magtampo!” especially now that we are into the Simbang Gabi which is very near Christmas. Many of us desire to complete the “nine mornings” hoping to be like Elise (portrayed Donita Rose in the movie “9 Mornings)” whose personal prayer was granted. In case ours will not be granted for this season, “Huwag magtampo.” Maybe it won’t be granted “now,” but for sure, it is not “no.”

King David, Mama Mary, and St. Paul, before becoming great in their lives and mission, also suffered a lot. There were many moments when they were broken into pieces because they either didn’t understand the will of God or the will of God simply didn’t correspond to their personal desire. This was the constant tension in their journeys. And this is also true of us. Many times, we keep on insisting to God what we want to happen in our lives, all the while forgetting to listen to him. However, it is only when King David listens to Nathan, Mama Mary to the Angel Gabriel, and St. Paul to Jesus that they truly understand what God wants them to be. 

The aspect of listening is essential in our faith. It is here that we can discern better what God is telling us in our current situations. King David, Mama Mary, and St. Paul listened to God not from a vacuum but from their life situations. When they lent their ears to God, they became sensitive to his presence and voice. Hence, when we listen, obeying his will becomes easier and clearer.

This is the reason why the aspect of listening is a vital part of our Christian life. Through it, future blessings will also be bestowed to us. “For nothing will be impossible for God” (Lk 1:37).

“Huwag nang magtampo!” Just trust in the goodness of God!


– Fr. Ross P. Heruela, SVD
– (Dec. 24, 2017)
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