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Moments

Giving, more than getting

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The story is told about an old man who proposed to an old woman in a home for the aged. The next day at breakfast, he went from table to table asking who it was whom he proposed to the night before. Finally, one old woman said: “I’m glad you asked. I remember saying yes to someone last night, but I have forgotten who he was!”

* * *

In today’s gospel (Mk. 8, 27-35), Jesus teaches us about forgetting oneself, in fact, denying oneself in order to follow Him. The world teaches us self-fulfillment and self-preservation. Jesus teaches us self-effacement and self-abnegation. The world tells us: Go get it! Jesus teaches us: Leave, give it. Whose voice are you listening to?

* * *

Jesus teaches us also today to take up our cross and follow Him. The world, on the other hand, teaches us to avoid and run away from the cross. Jesus points to us again the value of hard work and sacrifice in a world that is so preoccupied with pleasures, enjoyment and comfort. Which road are you treading?

* * *

How far easier it is to take the road of comfort and least resistance rather than the road of values and sacrifice. How far easier, indeed, to steal, cheat and lie! Jesus reminds us today to think not as the world thinks but as God thinks. By the way, the world has a name for us who think of values and God—fools. Never mind. All of us are fools, fools for Christ.

* * *

Someone put it beautifully that the problem with many people today is that they don’t care much about values as long as they have valuables.

* * *

I am writing this column at the Shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. St. Pio suffered much and sacrificed much in this lifetime. Aside from the stigmata on his hands, he experienced rejection and persecution early on but he persevered in his mission and good deeds. In one of his letters he said: “The world does not esteem us because we are children of God; let us console ourselves that at least once in a while it recognizes the truth and does not lie.”

* * *

St. Padre Pio also had this to say regarding those who are so preoccupied with worldly opinion: “Love and practice simplicity and humility. Don’t worry about the opinion of the world, because if this world had nothing to say against us, we would not be real servants of God.”

* * *

Every time I travel, I make it a point to stop and greet our Filipino workers in hotels, airports, and restaurants, and express my appreciation to them. I give them medals or scapulars which they truly treasure. At the Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore, I met Sharon Buya, who is in charge of cleaning the public toilets—lowly work that she performs with so much diligence and dignity. This is a young Filipino woman whom we can truly be proud of and whom our government officials—and all of us, for that matter—must learn to emulate for her hard and honest work. The story is beginning to go around Rome that the toilets in the Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore are clean because there is a Filipino woman cleaning them. You do us proud, Sharon!

* * *

People who think that the whole world revolves around them should experience being a part of a multitude of different nationalities gathered in one place. At the Papal blessing at the Vatican last Sept. 12, I couldn’t help but feel how big the world was, and how little I was. But at the same time, no matter how little, I praised God that I was not alone and that I belonged.

* * *

On a personal note, allow me to share a text message I received the other day from Gonie, our former house help who visited my 90-year-old Mama recently. She said that as soon as she entered the room, Mama welcomed her warmly and told her to stay and rest in the house. She and Mama talked about the good old days, and then at 6 p.m., Mama gathered all the people in the house for the evening Holy Rosary (something Mama has done since we were children). After the Rosary, Mama happily conversed with all the people around her and gave them some biscuits and candies for their families. Then Mama had dinner with all of them.

Gonie ended her text message thus: “She even gave me a book to read and to bring back to the province.” That’s Mama—still simple, and still so giving.

* * *

Think about this: “Learn to share not because you have plenty but because you know the feeling of being empty.”

* * *

Think about this, too: “What we have done for ourselves dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains, and is immortal.”

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that life is not so much about getting as about giving. Amen.


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