By Father Patrick Longalong
I used to visit my grandmother when I was a child during school vacations. Grandma Dorothy suffered from undiagnosed diabetes for many years. They thought she had a bad case of eczema that caused her left shin area to break into a really big horrific-looking sore. We would often help her clean the open wound morning and late afternoon to prevent further infection and hopefully help it to heal.
One afternoon, when I was tasked to bring to her room a basin of warm water to help her clean the open sore, I noticed that she was not in a talkative mood. I asked her if she was in pain. She said no. After a few minutes of silence, she decided to tell me that as she was passing the door of the storage room she overheard one of the young employees working at our
bakery tell a co-worker, “Yeah, she’s really ugly and might die soon.”
As soon as I heard the name of the person she was talking about, I laughed and explained what she had meant. A few of us, including some of those working in our store, had gone to a river by the farmlands. We stumbled upon some mayflies that just recently laid their eggs on water. Usually, after they lay their eggs the female insect would just drop on the water out of exhaustion and be eaten up by a fish or naturally die. This was the story she overheard, but since she was just passing, she didn’t hear the full context.
On this Feast of the Holy Family, we hear a lot about promises. All of us have a great many experiences with promises. Maybe to some, there were many promises left unfulfilled. This is why we often hear people say, “Actions speak louder than words.”
When you give your word, we expect that you follow through. In the first reading, we heard the Lord promise Abram, “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” (Gen 15:1) Abraham and Sarah after placing their trust in the Lord bore a son named Isaac. God’s promise was fulfilled and the fulfillment of this promise became part of the Divine’s plan of salvation. The story and its impact resonated even to the second reading in the letter to the Hebrews.
Our Gospel reading today reflected a series of promises fulfilled. We heard first a promise fulfilled in the lives of Mary and Joseph as they brought Jesus to be presented in the Temple according to the Law of Moses.
We were also introduced to an elderly man who was waiting for the fulfillment of a prophecy. “Simeon was righteous and devout, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.”
As we continue to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, let us reflect on our families; our hopes and sacrifices we made to reach our dreams. My grandmother never stopped hoping she would be healed from her affliction.
She eventually got a good doctor that properly diagnosed her and gave her the medication she needed. She went home to God a few days before Christmas day but God continues to work his promise of salvation to the next generation. Like that mayfly that exhausted itself to give birth to new life, its sacrifice became the necessary element to produce more life potentially bringing more beauty and joy in this world. May God’s promise be fulfilled in you during your lifetime.
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, and coordinator of the Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.