Last Christmas, my brother gave me a notebook as a gift. Now if you come to know my brother, you would be surprised by his gesture. It was the first time ever he gave gifts to me, my sister and our tatay. I’m using the notebook now whenever I’m in a meeting at work or at church.
In the cover of the notebook, there are several quotes about life’s journey. One quote got my attention. It was by Ettiene De Grellet. It says “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
In the Gospel reading for Holy Monday (John 12:1-11), Mary took the moment. Never thinking how anybody else would react, she decided to honor Jesus by anointing his feet with “a liter of costly perfumed oil, made from genuine aromatic nard”. She dried them with her hair, as the oil’s aroma filled the house.
Lazarus was with them, the man whom Jesus brought to life. By that time, many of Lazarus and Martha’s neighbors have heard of the miracle that Jesus did. And so, it may be expected that their house was frequently receiving visitors. It wouldn’t be entirely impossible for the room to be filled with many guests during that time when they gave dinner for Jesus and his disciples.
Mary honored Jesus the best way she thought she could. And she didn’t wait or delay her decision. When Judas the Iscariot, balked at what Mary did, Jesus only replied to leave her alone. “Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me”. Jesus was expressing the importance of time, and implied to Judas and to everyone in the room that he would not stay long, that he would suffer at the hands of the Romans and the Jews to fulfill the Parent Creator’s mission.
For Mary, it was an act of love. And when you love, you just do it. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.
‘Any good thing that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.’ The “now” is a time when there seems to be not enough time. How many instances in the past have we thought of giving someone a hug, or calling someone just to say hi and find out how they are, but then we got busy again, or maybe we suddenly thought of the person’s possible reaction, or rejection perhaps and then we didn’t push through, we just didn’t do it?
Time is a very curious thing. I remember someone saying that rivers are magical; because in the nanosecond that a part of the river flows by a blade of grass in its banks, one can never see that part of the river again. In the same way, every second, every minute, every hour, every day is unique despite our perceptions of routine. Probably the first thing that a kid learns to budget is time. And in growing up, the adult realizes that what responsibility means is keeping budget of time. Because when time is your best friend, no task is big enough, no commitment is impossible to have.
My tatay is turning 72 this year. One realization of adulthood is that you are not getting any younger, neither are your parents. When this fact struck me the past years, I knew I had to treasure each day I am with tatay. When he asked me one night to accompany him in church the following day, I didn’t think twice. Never mind if I have an earlier appointment that day. My tatay rarely asked me to do anything for him, so it was an easy yes.
Funny how we begin to treasure time when we know someday our time will be up, or the time of our loved ones will be up. Someone has said that the best way to live life is to live it like it’s your last day on earth. But maybe not that morbid, maybe we just need to make the time, the effort to live life.
‘…For I shall not pass this way again’. Maybe this time, I should see life as a bundle of moments meant to be experienced. Not just with my tatay, but with everyone. With each person I meet, whether I like them or not. This is easy to say, yes, but there’s no hurt in trying.
We may not have the best aromatic oil, or the finest clothing, or a personality to charm or dazzle others, but each of us has time, and each of us are given the heart to listen, to share, to love. Let us take this moment now.
Written By: John Paul Andaquig