Aaron James R. Veloso
For the Lasallian readers of this blog, you would know that the title, “Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever!”, is the invocation that Lasallians use at the end of every prayer. You might be surprised that I am using this title, as previous posts describe me as a Jesuit boy. But the invocation, so short yet so powerful, burns a fire in my heart that even the legendary basketball feud between La Salle and the Ateneo can’t extinguish it.
This fire in my heart must be the same fire that burned in the heart of Blessed Pedro Calungsod. This flame burns in the heart of every missionary, eager to bring the Gospel to a place where Jesus hasn’t been heard of. At a young age, Blessed Pedro willingly left home and joined the mission, to be an assistant to Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores. Pedro was a catechist, a companion, a missionary, a migrant, and a friend, welcoming Jesus in the deepest cavities of his heart.
We, Filipinos, are famous the world over for the hospitality that we show our guests. We are ever ready to give up the best bedroom in the house, so that even the humblest guest would be comfortable. This reminds me of a La Salette missionary who was the chaplain of a private university in Sampaloc, Manila. The priest was on an out-of-town trip and decided to visit the residence of one of his frequent visitors in the chaplaincy. His friend happened to live in the remote village he was visiting.
The family was poor. There was very little furniture in the nipa hut — just a chair and a papag. When the priest entered, he was treated like a king: The student’s mother gave him a seat, the only seat in the house, and gave ten centavos to her son to buy two ice cubes and a bottle of soda. This was all the woman had, yet she gave it up, so the visitor would have refreshments. Noticing this, the priest offered to share his soda with everybody else, but no one wanted to take even one sip. It was for their guest.
We are all called to welcome Jesus in our hearts. Do we welcome Him the way we, Filipinos, traditionally welcome our guests? Or do we treat Him like the unwanted visitor that gets sent away?
This is the challenge I present to you this week — to make our hearts a wonderful yet humble abode for the King of Kings, the Saviour of Mankind. He does not need riches nor extravagance, but a heart that does things for the glory of His name and which consciously turns away from sin. What He desires is not elegance that can rival the most expensive hotels in the world, but a heart that shows compassion and love for His other creations. He does not prefer glitter and gold, but simplicity, purity, and humility.
Let us promise God that we will continue to do everything out of love for Him. And, with a meek and humble heart, we beg Him, “Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever!”
(Aaron Veloso has been helping with Blessed Pedro’s canonization since 2008. Counting Church history as one of his interests, his undergraduate thesis tackled the evolution of the Catholic Church in the Philippines vis-à-vis the evolving forms of government in the country. He is also the Prefect of the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception in the University in the Philippines. )