It is Sunday, the second day of this weekend spent in the Queen City. A family of three is seen entering the churchyard, a traveller is bringing his backpack with a package of “pasalubongs” most probably intended for his family in the province, or so it seems; a “fashionista” walks by in bright yellow and orange, a child with a string in his right-hand tied with a huge airplane-formed balloon is guided by his mother into the gathering crowd. In the distance, yellow-skirted women in white tops are seen dancing to the movement of the two-steps forward, one-step backward beat, with candles in hand. As the visitors pass through the center of the yard, most wave for an instant and bow to the icon of the Sr. Sto. Nino de Cebu in the East Side facing the Basilica. People coming from all over the numerous entrance gates began to fill the seats in the rectangle fronting the Church, awaiting the start of Holy Mass.
Prior to this moment at about five o’clock, I was awakened with a burst of energy as if after a full sleep, even though I rested just a few minutes past midnight. While intending to wake up at half past six, my senses activated so early. After my morning prayers, I wondered what to do next while waiting for my breakfast meeting. I took a shower and in the middle of the lather, it dawned on me that I go visit the Sr. Sto. Nino. It was an inspiration that was so strong I couldn’t resist. The night before, I intended to attend the anticipated Mass at the St. Joseph’s Church in Mabolo but rain prevented me from leaving, aside from the fact that best friend, business partner and brother Noel, is around prodding me to attend Mass tomorrow Sunday instead. Then in the middle of the meeting, while Bro. Noel was on the way out of the table to answer a call, he bumped into our other brother Ariel, whom I haven’t met in a long time (perhaps it was fifteen years though I can’t clearly remember). Both of them talked for a few seconds and then a few minutes after Bro. Noel told me about it, my long-lost friend came over and we had a group talk. While it was brief, it was very memorable. Authentic friendship has a way of re-connecting people quickly despite the length of time the separation is. Absence becomes immaterial as the lost time is regained after just a few minutes of togetherness. It isn’t only the voice that communicates, it also involve the heart. Afterwards, Bro. Ariel has to leave to attend to his youngest daughter in the other table.
The interrupted meeting resumed and after that, on the way to an alumni dinner meeting in the City Sports Center I mentioned to Bro. Noel that the rain and that “extended” meeting may have been a way for me stay in the mall and meet our other friend Bro. Ariel (who was supposed to fly to Manila but was prevailed by his youngest child to stay). And so I realized that was the hidden reason why my presence in Mass was “moved” to Sunday. The rain was a nature-provided accessory to the plan! Postponing it became more meaningful when I realized (while on the way to the Basilica) that the Lord was calling to visit the Sto. Nino de Cebu on that Sunday. And while it was intended to be just a short visit, the Spirit prevailed on me to stay and attend the Mass after I made the line to the historic icon. Wow. God’s wonderful plan for me that day. It was revealed moment-by-moment like a flower blossoming in season.
In this Sunday’s First Reading, we listened to how King Solomon responded to the question on what he would want from God:
“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”(1 Kgs. 3: 9)
He didn’t ask for wealth or power, he asked for “guidance so he could govern God’s people wisely and fulfill God’s purpose for him.” Wisdom and discernment are two important gifts of the Holy Spirit. St. Bernard calls the Gift of Wisdom as “the knowledge which relishes things divine”. It is two-fold: “a light which illuminates the mind, and a supernatural taste which enables us to relish divine things as by a sort of natural attraction.” Hence, it is rightly considered as the most perfect of all gifts, the one which embodies all the others, just as charity embodies all the virtues. On the other hand, the Gift of Understanding helps us “get an insight into the Divine Origin of the truths of our Holy Faith, into the internal association of revealed truths one to another, into the value which they possess for our lives. It is like a new revelation.”
King Solomon made the perfect choice in asking God for the Gift of Wisdom. This gift is important for people to discern well the choices we face in life. With this gift, we will be able to look from the eyes of faith to choose things eternal, rather than be content with instant gratification and temporal passing fancy. It will enable us to be more patient with ourselves and understand our own foolishness and shortcomings. This will allow us to choose and make better decisions in the future. It will also open our eyes to seeing the treasures that last,
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a buried treasure which a man found in a field. He hid it again, and rejoicing at his find went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Mt. 13: 44).
This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us of how our priorities should be made. Sometimes we just have to be patient and listen to the calling of the Spirit. We have to trust. To discover Jesus and love Him and live life under the guidance of the Gospel is therefore the “greatest treasure and happiness of all.” As long as we are patient and prayerful, the ever-loving and ever-patient God will be with us in our journey towards obeying and loving Him more. Not that we become sinless but we become more conscious of our actions. We also become more humble as we gain knowledge and understanding of His plan for us. Rest assure that “… God makes all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his decree” (Rom. 8: 28 – 30).
Later that day, as the plane winged its way to bring me back home to Manila, I thought this must be one of the more beautiful visits to Cebu. While my schedule was hectic, the Lord provided me the energy to handle the meetings and the leisure time spent with special friends. There were a couple of challenges posed, but yes, with God’s grace, it was one fine Sunday after all.