If you ever got invited to watch a broadway musicale, all for free plane tickets and accommodations included, would you come? How about a worldwide soccer championship match? The coronation of a new king in England? The Olympics?
And how about it if someone sends you a once in a lifetime guaranteed seat to heaven’s great feast at the end of time, would you come?
Surely you’d say all these are but silly questions. For who would ever turn down such great opportunities? In fact, you’d probably just answer me with another question – why not?
And yet my friend, silly as it may seem, that’s just what I might have just done.
Just a week ago, my good friend invited me to attend a celebration meant to be a tribute to a kind old man we both knew. As I had no other plans for the scheduled date, I nodded saying unto myself, why not? I mean, we both love the man, and for all the wonderful things he did, why not come and celebrate with others whose lives were blessed because of him?
Now I’m not the social kind of person, and I do not know most of the people who will come. Add to that that I had some struggles lately in relating to some people whom I felt do not like me at all. In fact, it came to a point when I nearly doubted I even exist as I seem to come and go unnoticed by everyone else. Still I thought, why not? I’ll do it for the old man, and for my friend.
So the week passed by and I was weighed down emotionally by struggles in my personal life. When the day of the celebration came, I was really not feeling well that I almost took a leave from work! But then I thought locking myself up in my room all day just wouldn’t work, and I’d just feel worse doing nothing. So eventhough I was already late, I got myself ready and went to work.
The afternoon passed by quickly and after office hours, I got ready to attend the event with my friend. After all, I thought it would only take a short time at a stone’s throw away from our office.
To my surprise, my friend informed me it would be done somewhere else, so we took a cab to get to the address given us. On our way, the cab driver even kept on complaining, informing us just how much traffic there is on a Friday evening, warning us we may just be wasting our time trying to get through.
We thought about it and how difficult it would be trying to go home later from such a place. But since we were already on our way, we resigned ourselves to whatever difficulties we may encounter and just carry on with it all.
On we did go, braving through the snail-phased traffic, not knowing if we’ll make it in time, not sure how we’d find the place and how we’d ever manage to go home later.
We just went on, and surely, it was one of those decisions you’d always be glad you made! For as soon as we stepped in the identified premises, we were carried through in a celebration that blessed us beyond how we expected it to.
Before I continue, I’d like to give you a short backgrounder of the event I’m talking about. Our kind old man is a priest who serves as an inspiration for many people including those that help provide for the needs of a foundation established for the education and well-being of the youth. Such foundation gathers streetchildren, nourishes them, and supports them in their academic needs.
These same children were the ones who greeted us as soon as we entered the school grounds. They quickly took our hands and placed our hands upon their foreheads as with a bow, a sign of deep respect also called “pagmamano” in Filipino. Such was the first sign of heaven: angels that greet you with warmth, eagerness, respect and joy!
How different indeed was the way I had been treated coldly by people to whom I don’t seem to matter at all. How different here where I am seen, where my presence is appreciated, where I had been eagerly awaited without my knowing.
We were led by these angels towards the room where the mass is being held. It was a simple room with just the right number of people; not too few as to make the place appear forlorn, not too many as to gather a nameless crowd without that pleasant feeling that all who have gathered were each chosen and uniquely called.
After the mass, we were again led by those angels towards the gymnasium where a short program will be held. My friend and I took our seats infront together with the few guests who seemed so close to our kind old man; guests who contributed a lot in time, effort and resources to uplift the cause of the foundation.
I felt special to be among them. But at the same time, I felt so small in myself. I know in my heart that I haven’t done as much, nor have I known the old man that long and well. Still I was there, and I witnessed the most beautiful numbers prepared by the children for the event. What they saw, I saw. What they received, I also received. And I was blessed indeed.
The numbers the children performed had no extraordinary pomp or special effects, nor did it show exemplary skill in singing, dancing and the like. But I guess what made it beautiful was their simplicity, purity, openness of heart, and devotion to whatever it is they were doing.
They were streetchildren who had very few in life, in material things, and maybe even in emotional and family support. But instead of rebelliousness there was gratitude; instead of hopelessness there was joy. They were a group of kids who were able to act as one and deliver what it was they were taught to do.
And just in doing that, they were able to move the heart of our kind old man and make him happy, even real proud such that at the end of their numbers, he was able to say unto them, MY REAL GRAND GRAND CHILDREN!
He claimed them as his very own. And for kids who have nothing and nobody, what a joy it is for someone to passionately claim them as real family, moreso to be very PROUD of them!
They worked hard to pay tribute to a noble man, and yet they too were honored and rewarded for all that they have done.
My friend and I couldn’t help but pray more children of their generation may be like them. Maybe then this country may finally see its true hope after all.
After the program, we were led to the dining area for a fitting close to the celebration. What joy to be there and to share the feast that has been prepared not only with diligence but with great love.
Certainly I thought it would be a simple dinner. But it was gourmet Italian food all the way! My friend and I really couldn’t ask for more.
Will heaven’s feast be such as this? Is this a blessed glimpse of what is to come?
There are invitations that come to us bringing fancy pictures and expectations to our minds only to fail us in the end.
But there are invitations such as this one. One that comes in simple packages promising nothing but a communion of hearts that share the same sincere intentions and desires. Such ones are the ones that truly amaze us with beauty of the lasting kind and fills us with a feast from which we shall hunger and thirst no more.