We Filipinos love fiestas. We would gather together to celebrate all the major holidays with a grand feast. And in between, we need only the flimsiest of excuses to get together and go on an eating binge. Somebody leaves, even if it is just a short out-of-town trip, and there is a despedida party. Another one returns, specially long-lost friends or family, and it is the occasion of a grand bienvenida. Birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, new house, a Gilas or an Askal ballgame, a Manny Pacquiao fight and yes even wakes and funerals – they are all opportunities for a feast and food, lots of it.
But even though there is a lot of food, food is but an excuse for a deeper reason – the Filipino’s need to connect and stay connected with loved ones. In between gobs of food, there are stories to be shared; connections to be made or strengthened; good news to be announced; sad stories to shed some tears over; new friends to meet; new family members to introduce. A fiesta is the Filipino heaven.
And inversely, heaven must be a feast. Christ often portrayed the Kingdom of Heaven as a feast, a banquet. Right now, I am mourning the death of a dear friend, Joemar. He succumbed to lung cancer yesterday at the prime of his life. He is one person who loved to eat and party – be it in an intimate small group or a big bash. He would always be the life of the party with his witty and funny remarks. He loved to tell stories and was a good listener at the same time. Up to the last moment, he was filled with optimism and positivity even as he was gasping his last breath. He loved food. He loved life. And he lived it to the fullest. There has been a tremendous outpouring of love and sympathy from family and friends, whose lives he has touched. Even as they grieve, they remember fondly, with a knowing smile and gladness in their hearts, how Joemar has lived his life to the fullest. I can imagine him now enjoying the eternal feast in heaven.
The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers,
and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same;
but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
then they will fast in those days.”