A FEW days before Christmas, I asked my niece, Ann, to suggest to me another phrase for “having a deep sense of awe” that I can use in my preaching.
She answered, “It’s living the moment, Uncle.” I took her suggestion as I preached this theme to people during the Simbang Gabi Masses, and, indeed, people found these words very meaningful.
Live the moment! This, my friends, is my advice to you as you enter the new year. It’s the attitude of living in the present and paying attention to God’s graces and wonders in this world. It’s having a Marian heart—always grateful for God’s blessings and being humble in accepting God’s plan in our lives. It’s trusting in God’s providence and protection every moment of our lives, in good times and bad tines. It’s living a life of generosity to those around us.
I put this wisdom to practice as I traveled to the Philippines after Christmas with some of my siblings, nephews and nieces. I enjoyed every moment with them and took advantage of the occasional opportunity to be with them. I marveled at my young nieces and nephew’s energy, enthusiasm, and zest. I thanked God for their health and opportunities to learn about their parents’ birthplace.
This visit to the Philippines with them was special because we were not only on a holiday trip, but we were also there to do outreach to poor children in an orphanage in our hometown of Pampanga, and our adopted village in Taytay, Rizal. My niece Lauren named our outreach, “Project Heart Work,” to convey the message that what we were doing were real acts of kindness and generosity to the needy and destitute. My nieces and nephew raised money to give 150 backpacks to needy children filled with school supplies, a dental kit, and other goodies from the states. We also gave Christmas baskets full of canned goods, rice and some fresh food to hundreds of families.
Living the moment is taking time to put the Gospel to life, especially by paying attention to the needs of the poor. It’s bringing joy to the less fortunate, knowing that God calls us to love generously and to care deeply. Indeed, it’s being conscious of our responsibility to share our resources with other people.
Living the moment is consciously showing our care, concern, and affection to our loved ones because life is too short to miss any opportunity to do this. It’s being present to them and being sensitive to their longings and wants.
Living the moment is living a life of purpose, planting seeds of kindness, and leaving a legacy of service to God, fellow men and women. For those of us seniors who had spent years of service to God and country, it’s forming our youth to seek the fulfilling values of giving and serving.
Let’s always live the moment in this new year! Let’s keep marveling at God’s actions in our lives, be more conscious of his power, and always respond to him in love and generosity. Amen.
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.