Saturday, August 27, 2005

Second Chance

On our way to Barangay Gumot for the celebration of a Sunday Mass, the red Parish Jeep, lost its brakes!

The Barangay Mass in Gumot was canceled last month because the weather was not so good. It was raining so hard. The Barangay Coordinator texted me that it would be very difficult to go to their place. We decided then to cancel the mass, until the next month.

And so we were on our way to Barangay Gumot.

Gumot is one of the barangays in the “palandey”, or mountains of San Fabian. There were two roads leading to the place. One was the more circuitous way, but on a relatively good cemented road, except for one:  we had to pass  through a thickly mudded road, relatively short muddy road, but enough to discourage us in taking it. It would be next to impossible if we would be able to reach Gumot if we would take that road, especially since it rained the night before.

The other one  was the “easier” relatively shorter route. The catch? We had to pass the highest “peak” in San Fabian: the “palandey” of Inmalog Sur.

And that was where we lost our brakes. Mr. Art, who volunteered to drive us to Gumot, and with more experience in these parts of San Fabian, never lost his composure. After we made the first climb, and just before we would be going down the almost unending slop of Inmalog Sur, he calmly told me: “Father, anggapo met la so brake tayo!” (Father, we have lost our brakes!)

I looked at him if he was joking. (He was not !)

I looked down at the brake pedal. (He was furiously stepping on it!)

And that was when I was already looking over the road at the possible places where we could ram the Parish Jeep in order to avoid going down at a breakneck speed! We were accelerating fast, without any means of slowing our speed! If we would not be able to hold down the speed, we would be going over the ravine! Two sharp curves lay before us!

“We are lost!” I thought.

But Mr. Art managed to bring the Jeep up a small trail. Up, up we went that trail on the mountain.

Then we stopped. Halfway on that trail.

Then, I felt the Jeep starting to roll down! Accelerating fast again, but in reverse!

“We are going to turn over!”, I cried to no one in particular. Rev. Red was not saying anything; Bernard, our sacristan, was not probably breathing!

And when I thought, we would be turning over the steep trail, the Jeep stopped!

We got down fast! We were shaken. But safe.

I told Rev. Red: “God truly wanted you to be ordained a priest!”

God gave us a second chance.

Truly, He is a God of Second Chances!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Jeep and God's Presence

We always make the sign of the cross. I see people making the sign of the cross when they board a car, cross a street, climb a tree. We make the sign of the cross before we take an exam, shoot a basketball, and I’ve seen it many times, before boxers punish their opponents in boxing matches!

Almost always, without fail, whenever we pass by the church, we make the sign of the cross.

When I celebrate mass in the Barangay Chapels, I observe how some would make the sign of the cross whenever they would pass by the chapel! (Of course, they would not enter the chapel and celebrate the mass with us, but for them, making the sign of the cross was enough. They have already worshipped God with that simple sign on their forehead, their chest and their shoulders)! It was a short prayer, for them.

People understand and recognize the divine presence in the house of God, even in a small chapel in the barrio. The sign of the cross made affirms this recognition; it moves the people to acknowledge that God is present in the house of prayer! Churches and chapels are associated with God’s presence. To acknowledge this presence, people make the sign of the cross.

I never realized however how this divine presence is seen in almost all things!

Last Sunday on our way to our Barangay Mass, while riding on the now familiar red Parish Jeep, with Rev. Red taking the wheel, we met several young men. It seemed they just finished playing basketball. They were jostling and playing loudly with one another. When we were just about to pass them, they suddenly became very quiet.

A look of recognition!

They saw the Parish Jeep, with the Parish Priest and the Rev. Deacon driving.

One of them made the sign of the cross!