IT’S December 1 and our Christmas preparations are all in full gear. But if our Christmas festivities were done under normal circumstances the “doubt” of associating the acts of public generosity with political mileage would not be an issue. But in a politically charged environment one could not be blamed to distrust the ploy of a grand public relations propaganda masking itself in the form of publicly witnessed charitable work during this yuletide season. To some great extent Christmas has been used to legitimize “vote buying” in the guise of gift-giving and generous works.
Mary, in St. Luke’s account (Luke 1:39-45) reveals her as our perfect model of truthful and humble service. A pleasant kind of service, for it is given whole-heartedly and spontaneously … no plea has to precede it, no ulterior motive has to be proffered. Mary had to travel in haste to Judah, a journey of at least three days, just to visit Elizabeth (her relative) whom she learned was pregnant even in her advanced age. Mary’s visit transformed Elizabeth’s waiting into a blessing … Two women who carried new life met, and shared they joy.
In reflection thereof to this beautiful Gospel message, allow us to share with you this short story, which was e-mailed to us by an avid reader of this column:
A powerful Filipino senator dies after prolonged illness. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance. “Welcome to Heaven,” says St. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.” “No problem, just let me in,” says the senator. “Well, I’d like to but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you choose where to spend eternity.” “Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” says the Senator. “I am sorry but we have our rules.” And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening attire. They ran to greet him, hug him and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They played a friendly game of golf and dined on lobster and caviar. Also present was the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who had good time dancing and telling jokes.
They had such a great time that, before realizing it, it was time to go. Everyone gave him a big hug and waved while the elevator closes. The elevator went up, up, up and door reopened on heaven where St. Peter was waiting for him. “Now it is time to visit heaven. “So 24 hours passed with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They had a good time and, before he knew it, the 24 hours have gone and St. Peter returned. “Well then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.” He reflects for a minute, then the senator says, “Well, I would never have said it, I mean heaven has been so delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.” So, St. Peter escorted him to the elevator and he went down, down, down to hell.
When the doors of the elevator opened, he saw himself in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in the black bags. The Devils comes over to him and lays his arms on his neck. “I don’t understand,” stammers the Senator. “Yesterday I was here and here was a golf course and club and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland full of garbage and my friend look miserable!” The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, “YESTERDAY we were campaigning... TODAY you voted for us!”
“Love is not words, it is work and service. A humble service, performed in silence and concealed, as Jesus Himself said: ‘When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.’ And this service is shown also when we make available to the community the gifts the Holy Spirit has granted us, so that it may grow, and when we share material goods so that no-one may be in need. This sharing and dedication to those in need is a style of life that God suggests also to many non-Christians, as a way of authentic humanity”. (Pope Francis)
So before you take that Noche Buena Basket accompanied by a hefty envelop, ask yourself, “Is he/she just campaigning … or is it genuine act of giving?” May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light brought about by the birth of Christ in his spirit and grace!
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