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Masks

Last Jan. 12, when Taal Volcano lost its temper and blew its top, and scattered its ashes all over the place, I met a man with a mask who asked me with concern: “Father Jerry, don’t you have a mask?” Not quite knowing what he meant, I innocently answered: “Yes, I have a Mass at 7 tonight.”

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Today is the Feast of the Sto. Niño to remind us of the greatness of children precisely because of their humility and littleness. In today’s Gospel (Mt. 18, 1-5.10), we are reminded that unless we become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Children have no masks. We adults, through the years, put on a lot of masks for protection or for survival maybe. But worse, we play the game of “masquerade.” And many of us play this game rather well to hide who or what we really are, and to protect ourselves and our interests, and to get going with our personal agenda and ambitions.

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Seeing people wearing face masks reminds me of my chemotherapy days when I had to protect myself because of a weak immune system. May we always be aware, mindful and considerate of weak people around us that we do not harm, hurt, or affect them in any way. In other words, let us not scatter our ashes and trashes on them.

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The Taal ashfall phenomenon was an early Ash Wednesday reminder for all of us. We are just ashes and dust in the wind. In the blink of an eye, all our worldly attachments and achievements can be gone, and life itself could just end. Like children, let us learn to be humble and not to be proud to Mother Nature, and to God.

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Let us also listen to and respect Mother Nature. They say that God forgives, man forgives, but Mother Nature does not. Again, let us remember and be mindful of the children, the little ones who will inherit this earth. What are we leaving behind for them?

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A crisis situation brings out the best and the worst in each of us. Storms in life can blow away the masks we wear. As we grow older, our task is to remove the masks we have put on through the years, and become more like little children again, free from fears, insecurities and useless worries. Our journey is that of becoming less a child of this world to that of being a child of God.

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I was touched by a friend who shared with me how her late husband taught her the value of detachment and simplicity. He was rich, but he never bought or accumulated things for himself. All his clothes were not branded and they fitted in two boxes, and were given right away for the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption. Let us remove the mask of dependence and attachments to material things. Children of this world say “I want to have this and that.” Children of God say “God will provide.”

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We are all “evacuees” in this world. We can be called to go anywhere, anytime. Life is not about comfort, but a constant effort to become more a child of God, and less a child of this world. Travel light. Let go. Let God. Leave the masks. Face the light.

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The Diocese of Cubao, “the city on a hill,” invites you to “City on a Hill Bible Festival” on Jan. 25, at the Diocesan Shrine of Jesus the Divine Word, E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City, to celebrate the National Bible Month. For more information, please contact the Bible animator of your parish or visit the FB page: www.facebook.com/bibleapostolatecubao.

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A moment with the Lord:Help us in our journey to become less a child of this world, and to become more a child of Yours, without masks, dear God. Amen.

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