Do you believe in Aliens?
If not then look at the person beside you… And now, you still do not believe. But we have to remember that aliens do
not only refer to creatures from other planets but can also refer to people strange to us, people who are different from us.
And now after a year of working with strange people, here we are gathered with ‘igkasi-carigaran-on’ to share
again our commonality, our ways of being and our own experiences! And I can see in your faces how excited you are to meet
your kababayans. And of course I would like to greet all of you a happy fiesta.
I would like to focus my reflection on three things. First, what does the cross do to our life? Second what is the cross for
us carigaran-ons, and third, what is Christ telling us about the cross?
1) What does the cross do to us, what is the cross in our life?
This is my first time to be here in the US. Of all the 50 states in America I do not know why I applied here in New York.
And of all the dioceses here in New York, I do not know why I stayed here in the diocese of Rockville Centre that happened
to be the venue of our town fiesta this year. What a coincidence. But is it really a coincidence? According to my parish priest,
it is not a coincidence but it is God’s way. Maybe the cross led me to this place to be able to attend the celebration
But whether it is a coincidence or not, we all know that the cross leads us to God. That the cross as an instrument of our
salvation is not a coincidence but it is God’s will. Through the cross, we are being saved. Not only that, we can also
see the meaning of the two greatest commandments of God. It is not only loving our neighbor (vertical) but also loving God
(horizontal) which forms the cross. The cross also gives hope for those who are suffering. It tells us that in sharing in
the sufferings of Christ they will also share in his glory. And until now, it helps us overcome from our difficulties, as
the cross is instrumental in the victory of Constantine. The cross continues to perform miracles and heal the pains in our
lives, like the wood in which the bronze serpent was hanged and for which the all those bitten by the snakes were cured.
2.) But what is the cross for us?
We, Carigaran-ons really love the cross. We celebrate it not only during our town fiesta but also celebrate it in our barangay
fiestas, like in Punong and Baybay. And I am even happy to know that in spite that we are very far from our native land we
bring here with us our devotion to the triumph of the cross, not just celebrating yearly the fiesta, but even praying a novena
in honor of the cross. Many people say that carigaran-ons are brave people. But I believe we are brave not in a negative sense
but brave in facing our problems and difficulties because of our devotion to the cross.
3.) What Christ is telling us about the cross?
There was a story about a couple who came from a very remote area and they went to a very big store and saw the caption ‘elevator’.
They were wondering what the elevator was, until a big woman entered the elevator, closed the elevator. And when the elevator
opened a very beautiful lady went out and they were amazed and said ‘wow’. Without knowing that the girl was already
another woman who entered from the second floor. Again a short man entered the elevator and when it opened, a handsome guy
came out, and they were again amazed. And lastly when an ugly woman was about to enter the elevator the man stopped and said,
I know that you really need to enter that magic elevator but I think my wife needs it most than you are. Because of that elevator,
the couple quarreled.
My dear brothers and sisters, if we have this magic elevator with us, what do you want to change? Would they be the problems
that we experience? Is it the heavy cross that we are carrying? But here is Jesus Christ asking us that the cross is not something
that we have to abandon, is not something that we need to avoid, but something that we have to carry. But do we know what
the cross is? Because sometimes as we journey in our lives, we think that we are carrying our cross but only to find out that
they are a waste and baggage. It is like a person who was happy to present his cross to Christ. But when it was opened there
were some bottles and cigarettes inside. When Christ asked what are these bottles and cigarettes for, the man answered, ‘I
always drunk everyday and that makes my life miserable, and those cigarettes were the cause of my illness’
It is very important to distinguish if we are carrying a cross or a baggage. If one gets an illness because of drugs, then
it is a baggage. If one does not find good job because he did not study well, then it is baggage, but if one is willing to
work hard just to support his family in the Philippines, then it is the cross. If other people hate you because you are honest
and you do not want to be involved with corruptions, then it is a cross. If we are willing to follow Christ no matter what
it entails, then it is the cross. And what Christ is telling us is to carry the cross and not the baggage. The cross has something
to do with our relationship with other people and with God. And the greatest triumph of our cross is to be able to connect
our cross to the cross of Christ.
We don’t have a magic elevator in our life that will change our lives; a magic elevator that will take away the baggage
that we have in our hearts… but we have a God, He who is much more than that magic elevator. He who can take away these
baggages and help us carry our own crosses.