Numbers do not impress us sometimes when there is no reality backing them up. Such was not the case with Lola.
Those 98 years of blessings, grace and devotion have opened a reality for her far bigger than the numbers that added, as the years flowed by. She patterned her life like a seamstress with the heart that was so sacred. Her heart brought and nurtured lives that sewed, tailored and hemmed love, unity and family.
It was not easy at first. She married a grade school teacher, our Lolo Pedro, and they had 3 sons and 7 daughters. Now, having 10 children can be challenging. But, in more ways than one, it is also a blessing. From 10 children came 21 grandchildren. And from those 21 grandchildren, she was favored to see 32 great grandchildren.
This tabulation of numbers manifests the value of life she transmitted. Life finds its meaning more through what a mother gives, with what a grandmother shares and in what a greatgrandmother hands over.
Her eyes would light up whenever you mention her family. She knew them by name and by heart. Until her dying breath she reminded us to take care of each other, to forgive even when it hurts, to encourage and support one another. She taught us that there are more essential things and values that bring us together than those that break us apart.
Forgiveness and love are constant reminders of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are the hallmarks of our faith. They are some of the reasons why Jesus became one of us. They were also the same lessons Lola imparted to the rest of us.
Her heart was put to the test so many times when she had to practice exceedingly what she believed devotionally. She had to embrace the grief of Lolo's death. And she had to endure the pain of burying three of her children: my father, Auntie Eden and Uncle Selin.
Nobody can understand a mother's pain. No one can dry the tears from a mother's heart. No word of comfort can replace a mother's grief.
Like the questions that Lola faced, we will never get the right answers to questions on suffering and death. We will never have the correct response to the doubts and complaints about and against life. We will always grieve and cry for those we have lost.
But this we know, however. In low moments like this, faith in God gives us strength. In grieving moments like this, hope in God gives us his reasons. In sad moments like this, our love for God gives us His life in the person of His Son Jesus.
Perhaps pain finds its wisdom in the depths of comfort. Perhaps tears have its basis in our laughters and our fears. Or maybe perhaps God sometimes put us in the dark so that we will realize that He is the light.
Every death in our lives encourages us to seek the light so that we will never be afraid of the darkness. Every dying and ending we experience directs us to the right way so that we will never be lost. And if we only believe in the life that is forever, the life promised by our Lord, death is never an enemy but an unusual friend.
We gather here to celebrate Lola's life and love. Faith brought us together in this Mass and we believe that her earthly pilgrimage has ended, but her journey has just begun.
Fast forward to June 5, 2014, there will be no celebration of a hundred years birthday for her. Fast forward to the days and months ahead, we will hear no more those voices of care and concern whenever we visit her. Fast forward to the years ahead, there is no more Ma, Lola, or Lola Ma on earth.
But fast forward to the decades, centuries and millennia ahead, far beyond where this universe and horizon lie waits a heart that has endured more pain and suffering, that has shared more love and presence, that has given his life and his all. It is the heart of the One who has called dear Lola back to her real home, back to the bosom of His Sacred Heart--Jesus the Christ.
7 September 2012