Yes, we had our usual gatherings with family and friends, yes, we had the decorations, gift giving, Christmas Eve mass and the all the other activities. All of these were wonderful but what made my Christmas season different this year were two unusual celebrations.
First, I celebrated my birthday on December 24. I don't usually have a big party. People are just too busy. Most of the time, I am too busy! But this year I had a hundred guests! I finally found some people who could come to my party! Well, actually, they are what we call captive guests. I celebrated my birthday at the Quezon City jail, with a hundred inmates!
Those of you who visit my blog regularly perhaps would know that three Fridays a month, I go visit the jail. Most of the time my hubby or some other man shares the Good News to the "captive audience" but once in a while, I get to share too. Many of these men don't get any visitors and Christmastime is especially hard for them. What a joy then for me to celebrate with them. Who would have thought I would ever celebrate my birthday with jail inmates! Seems like the last thing I would do just a few years ago. Even my children (17 yrs to 24 yrs) came along. My 20 year old daughter told me she was envious of my party and she wanted to celebrate her birthday with the indigenous Aeta community she and her friends are helping! That was music to my ears!
The second celebration I attended was on December 27, when I went with my daughter to visit that Aeta community for their Patak ng Pagasa (Drop of Hope) project. We brought water containers for them to use to bring water up the mountain. We also had a simple party with them. On their last visit, my daughters and her friends noticed that the Aetas didn't even have proper plates, glasses and spoons and forks. They had to share plates with one another and drink juice from the same bowl they ate from. And so, this time, when they fed them, the food came in new plastic plates, the juice came in colorful glasses and they had spoons and forks (We Filipinos use spoons and forks to eat our rice meals).
The pictures here were taken by my daughter, Elyse (visit her photography portfolio). Their Patak ng Pagasa facebook page says
"These are just some snapshots of the wonderful places and people we met while on our mission. Their faces are reminders that Christ lives in each and everyone of us, especially the least of our brothers."
And so when I read Thursday's gospel reading from Luke 4:14-22, I offered the coming year to the Lord, that he would continue to use me to bring hope...
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives...
to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."