28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
October 12, 2014
IN WANT. IN PLENTY. BLEST. IN ALL THINGS!
Everybody loves a feast. Fiesta, in rustic Philippine settings, had always been a day to look forward to and look back to. It was, and still is, a time to splurge, a day to be thankful, an occasion to celebrate. All sorts of mirth-making are done with abandon, at least for one whole day in the year.
Fiestas in the Philippines refer to ALL. All are invited. All are happy. All are in the mood to act and behave like life is good … all the time. All stops are figuratively pulled to do that once-a-year celebration without restraint.
Why do I think of such things today, you might ask? Simple. All three readings are profuse about giving all, doing all, sharing all … to all … for all sorts of reasons … “in verdant pastures,” with “cups overflowing,” “all the days of our lives.”
I am one who can appreciate a glass of good, rich, choice wine. (I learned to during my Roman sojourn many suns and moons ago!). I used to look forward to fiestas even during seminary days when the irrepressible special “pancit canton” and “camaron rebusado” would be served … (nowadays, it’s spaghetti and Jollibe style “fried chicken!”). And the best was what everyone really anticipated with much gusto – “ice cream for all!” (even if it was nothing more than what we called “dirty ice cream,” now referred to in plain marketing genius as “artisanal ice cream!”)
But now, fried food does not do me good. Batter-laden stuff does not get me excited, and since I need to watch my sugar, I scream for ice cream that has more ice than cream (and sugar!).
But let me tell you one thing. I look forward to what all three readings tell us. I look with excitement at the “feast of rich food” that God has prepared for “all peoples.” And yes! … I still love mountains! I like the image of this rich feast that He has prepared “on this mountain!”
Yes … I look forward to heaven our only true home. Yes … I still believe that being lowly and humble does have a way to lead us to some place higher, up on God’s mountain of salvation! A long, long time ago, in one of my travels in Europe, I learned this for life: that the humble cannot be humiliated … ever … they can only be humbled even more.
Back in the day, we never had what everyone now takes for granted: fast food, quick chow, instant this and instant that … instant everything. We prepared “tableas” (cacao tablets that would be made into thick chocolate drinks) by hand. We went through the whole nine yards just to prepare ground coffee ready for brewing. We had no running water, nor LPG stoves. No … we had to chop firewood and fetch water. And looking forward to fiestas did not mean getting one’s phone from one’s pocket and making a mean call for delivery 24/7 of some food associated with “happy” and “joy.” Joy then, in fact, had nothing remotely related to chicken.
I envy those invited to the wedding feast in the parable. They did not have to chop wood and fetch water, but they were called to come and partake of the feast. But they refused to come.
I would like to think that in our times, fiestas (at least the kind we used to look forward to), are easy to come by. Plastic money and sprawling malls everywhere have made that all too easy and possible to do everywhere.
But my thoughts and desires now point and lead to some place higher, some place nobler, some reality greater. And what do I see? All are called to God’s mountain. All are invited to His brand of good food and rich, choice wine. All are called, even in their lowliness, to go up higher and “do all things in Him who strengthens us.”
I have been in want in earlier days, like most Pinoys were – and are! I have seen plenty, too, to be fair – then, and now. But whether in want or in plenty, there is one thing I know for sure … I am blest. I am called. I am invited. Then. Still. Even now, even here. “I shall live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life!”
Are you dressed and ready for that glorious occasion? And that does not happen only once a year, but “all the days of my life … and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”