Everybody looks forward to summer vacations. I just had mine a few weeks back. I flew my parents back home to the Philippines. We were in the air across the Pacific for almost 14 hours. I don’t enjoy flying but there’s no other way to reach my country. I observe one thing every time I fly. I become extra prayerful–especially when there are bumps along the way!
It was a smooth touch down. Then we had to be ready for a 12-hour drive to the countryside. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery during the long drive: majestic mountains of the Sierra Madre, the golden color of the rice fields before harvest, and big trees moving the fresh cool mountain breeze.
In one of our stopovers, my afternoon was caught by a group of people happily cleaning their own local park. I was reminded of our parish ‘garden angels.’ Another notable experience happened in a restaurant. I saw a child feeding his mother, who was in a wheelchair, her soup, rice, and another simple dish. My dad and I secretly paid for their food. The owner was so moved by the act that he also gave them some food-to-go and didn’t charge us for what we ate! (You know what to do when you’re in the Philippines to get a free meal!)
The first thing on my itinerary was to visit my first parish as a pastor. I went to say hi to some people who worked with me during the infancy period of erecting this church. I couldn’t believe what a small community could build. The unfinished building I left became a huge beautiful church! It was because of the people’s voluntary work and their meager donations put together. This is an example of the SYNERGY EFFECT I spoke about two Sundays ago.
I met the volunteer secretary of the parish who was never selfish of her time, talent, and treasure. She was dedicated and committed to her ministry. During my time as a pastor, she knew that the parish had no funds to start with. It was a small poor community of mostly farmers. She also knew that I had to work extra in other parishes to get funding for this church. We both didn’t receive any salary for almost a year except for some humble gifts that people gave to cover our gas and food. The quality of her work never changed. She loved her ministry. Her love for what she did for the church never wavered.
What motivates you to serve? What inspires you to be kind?
Jesus makes it clear that our Christian service to others, be it in the family or in some other context, must be primarily motivated by a certain duty of service and love. We must serve out of love regardless of the receptivity or acknowledgment of others. We serve because that is one of the Christian vocations we are called to do.
Try to imagine spending your day in some service–-service done out of your love for others. What if no one expressed gratitude for your work? Would that affect and change your passion to serve? We must serve and fulfill our Christian duty simply because it is the right thing to do and because it is what God wants of us.
I always admire the volunteers in the church and other non-profit humanitarian organizations. I always thank God for them and pray that God continues to inspire them and give them more strength in their ministry. I always include their intentions in my weekday Masses. Let our service always begin with God’s inspiration, continue with his help, and accomplish bringing greater glory to his name.
To all the volunteers in our parish: Thank you for all that you do!
—Reflection by Fr. Michael Gazzingan