The song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was the #1 hit song in the US and UK for 4 weeks in 1973. It was popularized by Tony Orlando. And according to “Billboard Music Magazine,” it is one of the biggest songs of all time.
This song is a ballad, told from the point of view of a prisoner who has completed his 3-year sentence but is uncertain if he will be welcomed home.
He wrote to his love, asking her to tie a yellow ribbon around the “ole oak tree” in front of the house (which the bus, bringing him home from prison, will pass by) if she wants him still to return to her life. If he does not see such a ribbon, he will remain on the bus (taking that to mean he is unwelcome). He asks the bus driver to check, fearful of not seeing anything.
To his amazement, the entire bus cheers the response – there are actually 100 yellow ribbons around the tree, a sign he is very much welcome!
Long before this song acquired a political color for Ninoy and Cory Aquino (Edsa and People Power for that matter), its original meaning was that of welcome. It tells the story of unconditional acceptance and sincere love.
As we start the Misa de Gallo days, I would like to begin with the theme of Welcome. I would have wanted to give each of you, instead of yellow, a violet ribbon – para way politica (pero daghan ra mu kaayo).
But imagine you are receiving directly from me a Violet Ribbon(Dia ra ha. Dawata ninyo). I would like you to put that around your heart – symbolically (Ibugkos). Ready! In 3 counts – 6, 7, 8. Wear it proudly. It means “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” You are showing Jesus: I am welcoming you in my heart!
This is what the Misa de Gallo is all about.. it’s about preparing our hearts. It’s about welcoming Christ dearly and lovingly. I would like to leave you 3 thoughts: Let’s welcome Jesus; Let’s be Close to Him and Let us Become like Him.
1. Let us Welcome Jesus
The Misa de Gallo is about preparing for a meaningful Christmas. It may sound a cliché but its true: Christ is the reason for this season. There are other preparations we are invited to do for the coming special events in the years to come: In 2016 – Cebu will be the host of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. We are expecting Pope Francis to come and visit us. Don’t you think we need to prepare to welcome the Vicar of Christ? Last time was in 1981!
A much challenging preparation is 2021: the 5thcentenary or 500 years of Christianization of the Philippines since March 1521. We have started our count down since last year.. we are, in fact, in a 9-year journey of preparation as we remember the 1st Mass in Limasawa Island; the 1st Cebuano Baptism of Rajah Humabon and Haraj Amihan who took the names Carlos and Juana. And we remember the gift of the Sto Nino in our shores.
2. Let us Be Close to Him
Connected to our welcome is our desire to be close to Jesus. During the ordination of our new priest, Fr. Rosmon Valenciano, in the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Bishop Patrick Buzon shared the experience he heard from Archbishop John Du of the Palo, Leyte. Despite the devastation of many houses and Churches in Palo, Archbishop John told his priests to continue celebrating Holy Mass in their parishes. “The people need food, water and shelter.. but more than that the people need Jesus! Because Jesus will give them strength.”
Nanimbawot jud akong balhibo pagsulti nya ana.. We need Jesus. It is Jesus who can give us extraordinary strength in extraordinary circumstance. Jesus will give us power to rise above our storms. These days, let us come to Mass. Let us come to Jesus. Let us feel close to Jesus.
3. Let us Become Like Him
More than just being close to Jesus, our biggest challenge is to be like Him. Year 2014 is the Year of the Laity. CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas wishes to remind all of you – lay people – of your basic Christian dignity in his recent Pastoral Exhortation. He challenges all Filipino Catholic Laity: “you are called to be saints and send forth as heroes.” He begins in his letter by describing the present situation of the Catholic Laity in the Philippines.
He describes it as a “paradox of poverty and abundance.”Yes we are a poor country but we have two jewels in our rags: our music and our faith.. thus he says with conviction “the first and most important truth about you Filipino Catholic laity is not poverty but the greatness of your dignity. This dignity derives from God’s unmerited choice of you to belong to God’s holy people.” Our faith makes us rich. Jesus is the source of our wealth!
One morning, I woke up and there was a strong compelling voice in my mind commanding me: “Randy, you should begin to seriously walk in holiness.” I felt a deep anguish and fear. I know I am still a lukewarm follower of Jesus.
I looked at myself: I’m 45 years old – soon I’ll be 50! I asked myself, at my age what legacy can I leave when I’m gone? This thought came to me: kanindot unta – what if ma-santo ko. Mabutang jud tingali sa mapa ang Bantayan Island – ang birthplace sa soon-to-be St. Randy Figuracion!
Kidding aside, during my seminary days in Canlubang, there was a quotation on top of the Rector’s Office which I have memorized: “We only live once. If we live right, once is enough.” That morning, I felt the commanding voice of Jesus inviting me to “seriously walk in holiness,” that means to be more Christ-like.. I’m also inviting all of you. Let’s walk together. Dungan ta – as they say “the more the merrier.”
Brothers and sisters, today as you go home bring your violet ribbon at home. Tie it in at the door entrance of your homes, in your drawers – in a place where it is visible. Let it remind you of 2 things:
1. You are committed to welcome Jesus with joy
2. You are committed to live for Jesus – to become like Jesus!Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.