Present! | Inquirer Opinion
Saturday, August 18, 2018
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Present!

The story is told about a dying woman who told her children: “When I die, have my remains cremated, and have my ashes scattered in the mall nearby.” When her children asked her why, her response was: “In that way, I know you will always be present and visit me at least once a week.”

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Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In today’s Gospel (Lk. 2, 22-40), Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. It was an act of consecration, to acknowledge and to thank the Lord for the gift of life, and to dedicate the child’s whole life to whatever mission is up ahead. Today, let us all present ourselves to the Lord once more, and to acknowledge His presence in our lives.

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When God made a roll call last week, our beloved mother came before Him and said her final “Present!” Mama left us at 9 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2014. She was born on Dec. 8, 1921, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and she died on a Saturday, the day of Our Lady. Her whole life was one big present to us, her family, and to so many others whose lives she touched in her 92 years of life.

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No matter what we do or say, the pain of losing a loved one, especially a mother, is deep and real. Nothing comes close to God’s heart as a mother. Our greatest consolation is the Resurrection, which gives us the promise that we will meet our departed loved ones again. Also consoling is the thought that our mother lived a beautiful and meaningful life. She was a gentle presence, and she was truly a present to us.

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The outpouring of prayers and love for Mama is a testament that there is no greater power than gentleness of heart. She was simple, humble, and self-effacing, but it was precisely her gentleness and kindness to people, especially to the “little ones,” that made her so loved and appreciated. In the end, people will remember our kindness and gentleness, more than our words or achievements.

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Today is also the Feast of the Candelaria, when candles are blessed and lighted to remind us that we are all to become a light to the world that needs healing, love, hope, and redemption. We are not glaring neon lights, but fragile as “a candle in the wind” that continues to burn in spite of the wind and the rain, relying on God’s grace till the very end.

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“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace (nunc  dimitis).” When the time comes for us to leave this world, may we leave in peace and be presentable when we come face to face with our Creator. My constant prayer is: Lord, may my life be Thine, may my exit from this life be kind, and may my entry to eternal life be sure, trusting in Your mercy divine. Amen.

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Mama always told us her children that her greatest wish was that we would live in unity and peace, and her greatest joy was that we would all be reunited in heaven someday. She would be so sad, she always said, if anyone of us would not make it there for our final reunion in heaven.

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The more I reflect on Mama’s life, the more I want to become like her, especially to follow the path of prayer, humility, and kindness which she took. We all can choose the quality of life we want to live. Having journeyed with her, and seeing how her life ended, yes, I want to become more like Mama. Think about it, dear parents: Do your children want to become like you, in terms of personality and character?

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More than focusing on presentation (as in Japanese food), or focusing on representation (as in business deals), let us focus on real presence. May we not spend our lives trying to look good before others, or trying to outdo others, but in being truly present to others. Life is not so much being presentable as being present, and being able (to become a gift, a present, to others).

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Words will never be enough to describe Mama. But if there were only two descriptions I could make, I would say that she was a woman who went the extra mile, and who made the extra smile. She was such a giving person, who would borrow money so she could give something to a needy relative, or who would stand and serve at table so that others could have a seat. She always tried to cheer up others with her joyful disposition. To the very end she would give a smile even if she was in discomfort and in pain.

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Out of the most consoling words I received were from a fellow priest, who told me: Jerry, you have two mothers now in heaven—Mama Mary and Mama Conching, who is now in heaven, too!

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Thank you so much to all those who prayed, condoled with us, and offered or said Masses for our Mama. May God bless your good and generous hearts. Our Mama Conching continues to generously  pray for all of us from heaven.  Dios  ti  agngina. Salamat  ya  balbaleg!

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, when you finally call me home, may I be able to say “Present!” to you with a smile. Amen.

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TAGS: column, death, Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, Mother, Resurrection
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