On my mother’s 80th birthday, I had the opportunity to honor her as the noblest of all women I have known in my life.
The family planned for a Holy Mass before the party. The priest made it clear that the family should give the homily. I read the gospel for that day which was The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14–30) and was inspired to connect this scripture text with my mother’s life. This was what I shared:
“Nanay” (mother in our Filipino culture) probably does not think she has talents. She often made reference that she only finished sixth grade. But education does not give us talents. God does, and education enhances our God–given talents.
Unlike the man who buried his talent, Nanay used them to the fullest.
She was widowed at age 35 with five kids to raise, ages 13 to 5–years–old. With all these “rascals” to fend for, she used her talents, time and energy to take care of us. She worked as a sales lady in a jewelry store. To augment her income, she sold jewelry as a sideline.
When we woke up each morning, Nanay was already long gone to see people interested in buying jewelry — vegetable and meat sellers at the marketplace, friends, customers. While we slept, she was still out working. She accepted all kinds of payments — cash, fruits, vegetables or meat. I’m sure, years later, she worked even harder when four of us were in college.
In this age, I suppose she would be labeled as an “absentee mother” — and she was. She did not have time to kiss, hug or tell us that she loved us. But I believe that love is proven by action or it ceases to exist. And what greater love is this than that of Nanay denying herself of any luxuries or self–gratification to give us life!
I hope she has enjoyed the fruits of her labor. Nanay fulfilled her long time dream to have her own jewelry store. She enjoys her visits to Sydney, Australia to be with family that now includes grandchildren and great–grandchildren. She visited me once in the states, as well.
Most of all, I hope she enjoys her success in bringing us up single–handed.
My brother, Marcelino, works as a senior investment consultant. On his free time, he heads an organization that builds houses for the poor in the Philippines and Solomon Island. My sister, Irene, is an occupational therapist working with people with disabilities. Bellie, another sibling, teaches English to immigrants. I have been in ministry for 30 years. Brother Onofre shows up as he pleases.
Nanay continues to share her talents and we celebrate and thank God for her
God gave all of us talents for the sake of others. Don’t bury them. Not sure what are your talents? Think what you are passionate about. Then, courageously explore, develop, use and share them with others.
This is where true happiness lies and where our passion meets the world’s hunger and need.