Who’s On Your Plane?

 “…Do not fear, Mary…” (Luke 1:30)

The first time I rode a plane was a nightmare.

I was seven years old then. My dad and I took the Philippine Airlines flight to Manila. At first I was excited. But as soon as the plane was airborne, my excitement turned into fear. There were several reasons for that: the air turbulence, the muffled yet hissing sound in my ears, the look of one of the passengers (believe me, he came straight out of a hijacking film ) etc.

Pretty soon I was at the edge of my seat. Not until I saw my father.

There he was. Calm. Unperturbed. Sipping his coffee. Reading his newspaper. He was the perfect symbol of confidence. Then it dawned on me. If my father is not panicking, then there must be no reason to. Besides, why should I fear, my father is on my plane.

No wonder the angel Gabriel had the guts to tell Mary what he told her in today’s gospel: “…Do not fear, Mary…” (Luke 1:30)

Think for a moment. Here she was, a teenager on the threshold of a new chapter in her life. She was about to be married to the man she loves. Then came the angel, not only with a crazy offer but also with an outrageous greeting to start with.

She, a teenager, was to become the mother of the long-awaited messiah. And she will have to conceive a child without any sexual contact with another man. And to top it all, the messenger had the guts to tell her not to be afraid. How crazy can you get?

But then, let’s think for a moment. Maybe the angel had the courage to tell Mary not to be afraid because of one important thing: God was on her plane.

She was being asked to face a challenge but she was not going to face it alone. God was going to be with her. No air turbulence, or hijacker was going to topple her. God would be her strength. God would be her joy. God would be her consolation.

How about you? What are your fears as the year draws to a close? What are your fears as a new year begins to unfold?

Before you panic, I encourage to take a good look at your life. Is God on your plane? Because if he is, then no air turbulence or hijacker will be strong enough to topple you.

Do not be afraid, my friend. Look at your co-passenger in your flight. It’s Him. Your Heavenly Father.

He’s on your plane!

In Christ’s service,

Bobby Q.

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Love Knows No Protocol

December 03, 2008

“…My heart is moved with pity for the crowd…” (Matthew 15:32)

I can still remember very clearly that scene at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

The old man, flanked by his security escorts, lumbered his way down the flight of stairs from the aircraft. The frantic crowd was mesmerized by his sheer presence. The TV crew readied itself for an interview of a lifetime. Flashing bulbs. Tear-filled eyes. Waving banners.  

This was 1995. And on the tarmac was the most controversial and most loved human being on the planet during those times: Pope John Paul II.

His visit to the Philippines moved my heart. What he did on the airport that day, however, brought tears to my eyes.

The security could not stop him. Decorum could not prevent him. Protocol could not limit him. Despite the protests of his escorts, he did the unthinkable.

As he descended the flight of stairs, he saw a group of dancing children behind the cordon which separated him from the welcoming crowd. At this sight, the saintly pontiff broke the phalanx of escorts, cut through the cordon and embraced the children. It was a sight to behold.

Today, I wonder what moved him to do what he did. I could only surmise.

Perhaps it was the same reason which moved Jesus to perform the miracle of the multiplication of loaves in today’s gospel. Most likely, it was the same reason which also moved the Father to send his only Son to be born on a manger on the first Christmas night.

His heart was moved, strong enough to break all protocol.

“…My heart is moved with pity for the crowd…” (Matthew 15:32)

On the first Christmas night, the Father broke all decorum just to embrace His children with the greatest expression of His love: the birth of Jesus.  God wasn’t supposed to do that. God wasn’t supposed to stoop down to our level. God wasn’t supposed to enter time and be bound by it. God wasn’t supposed to suffer for 33 years the temporal consequences of sin (e.g. pain, loneliness, poverty, sadness, fear etc.). God wasn’t supposed to allow himself to be contained and limited by human flesh. No, it’s wrong. It’s unthinkable. It’s irrational.

Guess what?

That’s exactly what God did. For the sake of humankind. For all of us. For you. For me.

Believe it, dear friend. Love knows no protocol.

In Christ,

Bobby

God On Your Alley

December 02, 2008

“…Blessed are the eyes that see what you see…” (Luke 10:23)

I couldn’t believe what I just saw. My friend stood beside two famous celebrities and he didn’t even notice they were there. Not that he didn’t care about celebrities. He did. It’s just that he was too busy looking at the displays on the shelf inside that shop that he missed out on what could’ve been an encounter of a lifetime.

What happened to him also happened to many of them in Israel when God first came.

Consider the innkeepers on the first Christmas night. They who turned the child Jesus away because the inn was full. Oh if only they knew who was at their doorstep. If only they knew who was seeking to sleep on their cots and under their roof. Missed opportunity. They didn’t know that God was on their alley.

Or what about the owner of the stable where the Savior of the world was born. Have you ever thought where he might have been that night? Had he known that the creator of the universe was being born inside his property, would he have scampered to at least have a glimpse of the face that not even Moses could see?

And what about the rest of Israel? For thirty-three years, many did not recognize that the God who parted the Red Seas for them was actually walking on their streets. That’s why Jesus said:

“…Blessed are the eyes that see what you see…” (Luke 10:23)

Unfortunately, nothing much has changed today. Many people still fail to recognize the real and tangible presence of God in their lives. Sometimes, we still act as if he is far and distant. Why can’t we see him in the glory of an Olympian who crosses that finish line? Or in the promotion given to you by your boss? Or in that food on your table? God is everywhere. All we need to do is open our eyes to see.

This advent season, I invite you to open, not just your gifts, but your eyes. See God walking beside you. To rescue your from your fears. To redeem you from your failures. And to restore your from your faults. God is with us. In the great and not so great moments of our lives, He is there.

It’s God right on your doorstep. It’s the creator of the universe walking on your alley.

A blessed advent season to you!

In Christ,

Bobby Q.