Saturday, December 24, 2011

I am the Innkeeper

Before my final installment on my World Youth Day Saga, I would like to tell you my experience of Christmas as the Innkeeper.

In the office, we were asked to have a costume of a Christmas Character and I picked the Innkeeper. I complained right away because I didn’t like it. I said the character was insignificant and that he was a bad person. The innkeeper is famous for his words “There is no place in the Inn”. It was like throwing away Joseph and Mary in their dire needs. I did’t like the innkeeper and I was not gonna wear the costume. But reflecting further and upon putting myself in the shoes of the innkeeper in front of the Belen, I learned that I was wrong.

I am the innkeeper. For the whole day, I was busy – cleaning, doing the dishes, washing clothes, the usual things that I do. But today, I did the chores with more intensity than before because my workload has doubled.  There were more visitors now in Bethlehem as ever before because of the census. The inn is full. Good for business.

I was standing in the doorway resting and breathing fresh air when I noticed that a star was shining brightly above my stable. I thought that the star was also doing its job (to shine) with more intensity. Was it also because of the Census? I smiled. It was then that a tired looking man came to me asking for a place to stay. I explained to him that there was no place in the inn. Then I saw a few meters away a young girl riding a donkey. It was obvious that she was in pain and that she was giving birth. “Oh no! The girl needs a place to stay!” I thought. I was rattled. Because I was looking at my stable when they came, I pointed it to them. The man carried his wife right away and ran to the stable. I followed them. I helped the girl deliver the baby. When it came out, the couple was very happy. Their countenance changed. The tired looking man’s face glowed and the pain in the girl’s face was gone. They were joyful… happy. I looked at the child in my arms and I suddenly became happy too. I forgot about my tiredness. I looked at the child again before handed Him to His mother.

“Here He is, the Messiah!” the man exclaimed. I couldn’t believe my ears. Is the Child really the messiah? My question was answered when shepherds came to worship the Child, followed by wise men who gave gifts to Him. I suddenly felt ashamed that I was only able to offer a stable for the Child. I busied myself in cleaning the place while the wise men and the shepherds gave their tribute to the Child. It was the least I can do for the moment. When the visitors went, I apologized to the couple. I learned that their names were Joseph and Mary. I advised them to rest because I’m sure they were so tired in their journey and in Mary’s giving birth. I pointed to them the place I cleaned up. They laid the child in the manger which I filled up with hay and they slept beside Him. I could breathe now. I couldn’t believe it happened, yet, I feel so blessed that of all the homes in Bethlehem, our home was chosen to be the birth place of the Messiah.

I stepped out of the stable gently. I went back to the inn to look for things which the baby might need. I got blankets and water and food. I walked back to the stable. I noticed that it was already dawn and the sun was going to rise soon. When I arrived at the stable, the man Joseph was already awake and He was waking up his spouse, Mary. He quickly packed all their things and they got ready to travel again. Mary held the Child in her arms and rode the donkey. I did not have the chance to ask them why they were in a hurry. Joseph and Mary thanked me for my “generosity”. I gave them the blankets and the food and water and bode them goodbye.

Later on, I found out why they were in a hurry. Men on horses came to Bethlehem looking for all firstborns and they killed all they found. Many parents were in agony. But in secret, I told them what I witnessed and I assured them that the Messiah, who will save us all, has come. The lives of their children has not ended up in vain.

Disclaimer: This is merely a result of my personal reflection and it does not represent actual events.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

World Youth Day Saga Part 2A: Cuatro Vientos Miracle

(I will do you the favor of making it short today. :)

August 19 marks the day that I saw the Pope in the streets of Madrid. We waited for him in the side streets. When the Papal Mobil passed, one of our friends screamed with joy the cheering the youth had for the Pope.

Esta es! La jventud del Papa!” (We are the Youth of the Pope)

I can only think, “Wow! How she loves the Pope so much that she screamed at the top of her lungs (like a crazy woman hehe).

The Pope was pinkish. Clearly he was affected by the so much heat in the summer of Madrid. Clearly he was suffering but wow! There was a smile in his face. Perhaps the heat was nothing compared to the energy of the youth which was channeled to him. The experience was all worth it.

On August 20, we headed to Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome (Cuatro Vientos means “Four Winds”). It was where the Vigil with the Pope took place. We went there as early as 12 noon. We were under the scorching heat of the sun, 41⁰C the news said. We felt that we were being baked alive. And knowing that the sun sets at about 8:30pm did not make us feel better.  A number of firefighters roamed around the place, spraying us with water like plants which needed to be watered. One of my friends shouted to one of the firefighters “Ei guapo, agua por favor” (Handsome, water please) (Pogi, tubig nga). The firefighter pointed the water hose to the one beside her, also our friend, and she was splashed with water, bull’s eye. You could only imagine her shock.

The Firefighters spraying water to World Youth Day Pilgrims
Photo by: Joy Torculas

We spent the afternoon taking photos, eating, cheering, getting to know other delegates, etc. while waiting for the Pope.

At about 7:00pm, the clouds finally hovered the sky and the four winds of the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome were felt. It was a relief to us to finally feel cool. The Pope arrived and chanting and cheering and clapping was heard in the aerodrome. We stood in front of one of the wide screens because our place was far from the stage where Pope Benedict was. Our hearts were filled with joy as we await the address of the Pope for us. Just as he began his speech, the sky opened and the rain began to pour.  Angry thunders were heard and ferocious lightning were sketched in the sky. I can only laugh and ask the Lord, “Are you kidding me?”

What an irony, we were exposed to the scorching heat of the sun in the afternoon and drenched in the rain in the evening. Surely, the Lord wanted to tell us something that night.

The widescreens went off. We didn’t know anymore what happened to Pope Benedict. Later on we discovered that the Pope’s garb and his paper where his speech was written was so drenched and soaked with water. Still he was determined to continue and wait patiently for the rain to stop. The youth gave encouragement to the Pope shouting “Benedicto!” then they would clap their hands three times.

 The Master of Ceremonies spoke. She said, “This is the answer to your prayers.” Then she added, “Let us pray with the Pope.”

Everyone fell silent, at least me and my group mates. In the split of a second, I was transported to a different dimension. I recognize the place and I recognize the faces. It was also a stormy night, like the night at Cuatro Vientos. I was in a boat along with some disciples. We were so scared. At a distance, we saw something that is like a ghost walking on the water. But when He came closer he said “Do not be afraid, it is I.” I shouted with great courage, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you”. He answered, “Come.” I was happy and blissful that I forgot about the wind and the rain. But in the middle, the wind blew harder and I became suddenly afraid again. I began to sink. But before the water swallows me entirely, I shouted “Lord, save me!” He grabbed me with His Holy Arm and gently rebuked me “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” I thanked the Lord, happy that He did not abandon me and He allowed me to call Him when I was sinking.

Jesus saves Peter. "Lord, save me."

After envisioning myself as Peter in that particular scene in the bible, I the rain suddenly stopped. Was this God’s way of saving me? In the silence of our hearts, we saw God. Even if we were subjected to the scorching heat of the sun and drenched in the rain, we felt different. A miracle happened. 5 to 10 seconds passed when the emcee asked us to pray with the Pope and the rain stopped! I looked around and all the other delegates were silent, perhaps, filled with awe like me.

The Pope continued his speech. "Thank you for your joy and resistance. Your strength is stronger than the rain. Thank you. The Lord is sending us his blessings with the rain. With this, you're leading by example."

The theme of the World Youth Day Madrid is “To be planted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith”. That night, I believe that it was achieved as more than One Million Pilgrims stood in the rain, unshaken, like a “house built up on rock” and a “plant deeply rooted in the ground”

Benediction followed. We knelt on the ground in silence, thanking the Lord for the miracle. Many hearts were transformed that night, including mine. After the benediction, the Pope left and the rain started to pour again, as if it only gave way to Our Lord. "Who is this Man that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"

I slept with my pants still wet. I was unprepared for it that I did not bring extra clothes. Yet, I felt at peace. There was inner peace with me that only the Lord can give.

Want to witness more miracles? I think this writer has written it better than I did. Check  it our here. 

Read Previous Posts:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...