Are you familiar with this story?
In both heaven and hell, people eat using spoons with long handles.
In hell, people are starving in spite of the bountiful food. Each person feeds himself. One man for himself and himself alone. As he puts the food in his mouth, it spills and he ends up getting little food or none at all.
In heaven, food is just as abundant but everyone is happy and satisfied. Each person feeds the other using the same long spoon, but here, because of their willingness to work together, no food is put to waste.
This is exactly the picture I saw last November 20 at the Villamor airbase. It was heaven on earth. No labels, no cameras, no publicity, no issues. Just plain good old human compassion going the extra (s)mile! As soon as a C130 plane lands, survivors were welcomed with big warm smiles and were assisted for their immediate needs. Those who started this project, the wives of some military men, along with other volunteers, made this "Philippine Paradise" possible with such pure acts of kindness. It was so refreshing to witness that such acts of selflessness and generosity can still happen today.
In that present moment I felt the strong presence of God among all of us. As we enter the Advent season, let us discern the meaning of these two words: present and presence.
Let us look to the future with loving remembrance of things past - the presence of God in the birth of our Lord Jesus - and His very presence in our present lives today. Let us live in the now, where the presence of God is felt in the little forms of heaven we see here on earth: At prayer, during the holy Eucharist or even in simple gestures of generosity towards others.
Advent is preparation not only for Christ's coming but also for what the future holds. It is a time for us to conscientiously live in the present and heed the call of Christ's love and compassion. It is a time to celebrate God's presence in our lives as our only Constant in the long and arduous history of mankind - unwavering in his love and mercy for the human race; Never leaving our side.
In anticipation for the second coming of Jesus Christ, by His presence in our every present moment, let us make Advent the season for us to witness heaven and participate in making it REAL and TRUE here on earth.
This true presence of our Lord can also be found in the other meaning of "present", as a "gift". Let us be gifts of our Lord to our brothers and sisters, whatever race, gender, social status or religion they may have. Let us be channels of His Presence, allowing others to feel it through every act of goodness we extend to them.
Have a HeartStrong Advent season and may we truly live in His Presence always.
Rev. Fr. Vic Y. Apacible
Rector / Parish Priest