If someone invited you to watch a Broadway musical, along with free plane tickets, would you come? What if you were invited to attend the Olympics? How about watching the World Cup?
But what if someone sends you a once-in-a-lifetime guaranteed seat to Heaven’s great feast at the end of time? Would you come?
You must be wondering why I need to ask such questions. You may ask in return, “Who would ever turn down such invitations?” You may also just ask, “Why not?”
And yet my friend, that’s just what I might have done.
Not too long 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 to myself, “Why not?” We both loved the man, and for all the wonderful things he did; why not celebrate with others whose lives were blessed because of him?
Now I’m not the social kind of person, and I didn’t know most of the people who would come. I also had some struggles in relating to some people whom I felt didn’t like me at all. Still, I thought, “Why not? I’ll do it for the old man, and for my friend.”
The Day of the Celebration
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; I almost took leave from work. However, I thought that locking myself up in my room all day just wouldn’t do, and I’d just feel worse doing nothing. So, even though 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.
To my surprise, my friend informed me that the celebration would be held somewhere far away, and we had to take a cab to get there. On our way, the cab driver kept telling us just how much traffic there was 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.
We went on, braving through the snail-paced traffic, not knowing if we’d make it on time. We were not even sure how we’d find the place, or how we’d manage to go home later.
We just went on, and surely, it was one of those decisions you’d always be glad you’ve made!
Before I continue, I’d like to give you a short background of the event I’m talking about. Our kind old man is a priest who serves as an inspiration for many people, including a foundation that helps provide for education and welfare of the youth. The foundation gathers street children, 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 along 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 didn’t seem to matter at all. How different there where I was seen, where my presence was appreciated, where I had been eagerly awaited without my knowing.
We were led by these angels toward the room where the Mass was being held. It was a simple room with just the right number of people—not too few as to make the place appear forlorn, but 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 Mass, we were again led by those angels toward the gymnasium where a short program was held. My friend and I took our seats in front, together with the few guests who seemed so close to our kind old man, guests who contributed a lot of 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 knew in my heart that I hadn’t done as much, nor had I known the old man that long or 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 show 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 of heart, and devotion to whatever it was they were doing.
They were street children who had very little 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 in just doing that, they were able to move the heart of our kind old man and make him happy, even really proud. At the end of the show, he was able to say these touching words: “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 and to be very proud of them!
They worked hard to pay tribute to a noble man, and they too were honored and rewarded for all that they had done.
My friend and I couldn’t help but pray for more children of their generation to be like them. Maybe then this world may finally see its true hope.
After the program, we were led to the dining area for a fitting end 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.
I thought it would be a simple dinner. But it was gourmet 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, eliciting fancy images and expectations in our minds, only to fail us in the end.
But there are invitations such as this one. Ones that come in simple packages and promise nothing but a communion of hearts and sincere intentions. Such are the ones that truly amaze us with beauty of the lasting kind, and fill us with a feast from which we shall hunger and thirst no more.
Originally posted at I TAKE OFF THE MASK.