IT was the second time this first week of the year that I joined my friend in his visit to his 86-year-old mother. Sick with bad flu, his mother could not come out of her room to talk to us. She was too weak to get out of bed.
But her two daughters, who much appreciated our visits, compensated for their mother’s inability to engage with us. Both showered us with attention. They kept serving us homemade food and hot tea while they shared with us news and memories about other family members. They gave us warm blankets while we sat in the living room watching movies on television.
As I enjoyed their warm familial hospitality, I marveled at the long years that I have known my friend’s family. I first met them in the ‘80s when I was a theology student. Even then they would make me comfortable in their home and treat me like a member of the family.
For many years now even as a priest, I would often join my friend when he visits his family. They have become a second family to me.
Indeed, one thing is evident in our relationship: our enduring friendship marked with a consistency of care for each other. It’s a cherished gift that comes only through years of fidelity.
Isn’t this the way that God relates with us? His love for us endures, his care for us remarkably exceeds, and his loyalty persists. At times we wonder if he’s ever with us, but when we reflect on the years that have gone by in our respective lives, many of us cannot deny his continuing friendship, presence, and love.
Should this be the light—the wisdom—that we need to recall each day as we begin the year? That God would never abandon us? That his love and friendship endure? Should we not keep building this personal relationship with God? It’s the best way to face every challenge and difficulty in life.
Shouldn’t God reveal to us his loyalty to us, especially in times of sickness and old age? Then we’d feel secure about the present and the future and be steadfast in dealing with any obstacle that comes our way.
On this Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, it’s important to keep in mind God’s fidelity to us. Let’s keep in mind that every day is a manifestation of his presence, care, and love. Let’s always remember that he’s there to guide us in our journeys as he did with the three magi when they looked for the infant Jesus. Let’s embrace the wisdom he brought us, the Word Made Flesh, in his Son, Jesus Christ!
Then as Isaiah relates in the First Reading this Sunday, we would rise in splendor for the glory of the Lord shines upon us. We would walk by the light of Christ and be radiant like the stars. Our hearts would throb and overflow with the richness of God’s grace. Our mouths would praise God with songs and like Mary would proclaim His greatness all the days of our life.
* * *
From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.