1 July 2017, St. Claire Parish Church, Tigaon, Camarines Sur

A Homily by Br. Gallardo “Butch” A. Bombase Jr., OP

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven”.

This last verse in the Gospel that we have just heard, Beatitudes according to St. Matthew, must be the welcoming words my Mama Esting would be hearing from God our Father when she reaches heaven. Yes, my mother tried to live the Beatitudes. She practised poverty; she was poor in spirit by trusting everything to God. She lived a sorrowful life. She was lowly and humble. She was merciful and compassionate with the needy. She was persecuted in this world by not being understood for loving too much. I believe that now Mama Esting is reaping the fruits of the Beatitudes which are gladness and rejoicing with God in heaven. She must be hearing words like these in heaven:  “Come, you have my Father’s blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.”

At the start, let me tell you that Mama Esting was my prayer partner. I would not be who and what am i now, had it not been for my Mama Esting. She was the one who introduced me to God.   She prayed all the time that I would become a servant of God as a priest; that, I become a faithful, loving, committed and holy priest. This is all her doing. She prayed for me a lot all the time, as i prayed for her, too. Prayer is our bond and  connection. Mama Esting is now gone. Nevertheless, I believe that she is praying for me right now in God’s presence; the more she is praying in heaven and interceding for me, her son.

Mama has gone now to heaven after suffering purgatory here on earth. Her real home is not our house in Gubat, Tigaon, Camarines Sur.  Her home is Heaven. She wanted our home to become like heaven where love and forgiveness reign.  She loved God very much; I can attest to that. As my sister would describe Mama “Mama does not think much but love much, thinking less but loving and caring more”. Many said that Mama is mapagmahal, mapagpasenya at mapagparaya. Many have known Mama as a loving and generous woman. We have heard last night during the Eulogy and Tribute to Mama.

Now, let share with you some insights.  Early in the morning of Sunday, June 25, 2017, I received a text from Sunshine, my niece, the daughter of my youngest sister Beget. She texted me in Bicol language “Mau ni si Mama Esting.” (Mama passed away)  I could not simply accept the reality of death. I cried alone and prayed “Lord bring Mama to your kingdom in heaven.” I was in Minore Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag that time when I learned that Mama died. I told Mama Mary of Manaoag to please bring Mama to her Son Jesus in heaven. It was Sunday, that was why I celebrated my Mass at 5 in the afternoon for the intention of my mother.  Yes, the painful message of death has come. The Gospel that Sunday was  “Fear not; do not be afraid.” What a providential message!  What comforting words of Jesus, telling me: Butch, do not be afraid. I told myself: “Believe and put all your trust in God, just like your Mama.” By the way, I formulated a prayer for Mama, she would utter this prayer “Anak ako ng Diyos, mahal na mahal Niya ako kaya may magandang bagay na mangyayari sa aking buhay.”

Whenever I visited my mother, I would bring her the Eucharist; she would always tell me “I am ready to die.” I would react and say “no, we want you to live longer because we love you; we will do everything for you.” If ever you die, there must be a reason or a cause for that. She had purgatory already in this world.  What Mama wanted all her life is to go to heaven. That was why, she lived like Christ.

May I share with you  her last words. My sister Beget and the caretaker, Salve, were with Mama hours before she died.  Mama, knowing that the following day was Sunday requested them “I want to go to Mass; bring me to the Church by a wheel chair.”  Every June 27, she would celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Chapel in Baligon, Goa, Camarines Sur which she helped build 45 years ago. Then she died before that day.  Yes, she must have celebrated already the Feast with Our Lady of Perpetual Help in heaven.

If I would to describe Mama Esting, she is a daily Mass-goer. Going to Church is her life. I can attest to the fact because I would go with her everyday. She was the one who brought me to Church to become an altar server. That was why, I began to go to Mass everyday  with her. She introduced me to love the Mass. Her life is centered and revolves around the life of the Church.

What is the life of the Church? The life of the Church is a life of prayer and a life of love. First, it is a life of prayer. She prays a lot. Mama listens to God in prayer. The secret of her successes is always attributed to the power of prayer.  Mama taught me and everyone of us to pray. Every night, we have a family rosary at 8 in the evening. Prayer makes us closer to God. Prayer makes us closer and kinder to one another. Mama is my prayer partner. Mama till herlast breath prayed. Beget prayed with Mama. Mama would gather her children to pray with her in the afternoon even before she died.  She had a clear mind in prayer. Never she forgot prayers, she prayed with memory and from the heart. Mama prayed the rosary.

Secondly, a life with the Church is a life of love. To love is to give. She lived a life of love by being generous. She loved every kind of people. In fact, she would welcome everyone to our house; our house becomes like an orphanage. She would love even the unlovable and even those who persecuted and maligned her. She would forgive my Papa even. She has always loved Papa even she was hospitalized; she would ask me “did your papa eat his lunch or dinner?” She is really unselfish in loving. She lived a life of love. Several years ago, she would go to Mother Seton Hospital in Naga City.  She would volunteer as a pastoral health worker. She would give her time and space for people in need whom she did not even know. She is a generous person. She would not think of herself. She would give even though she would have nothing for herself anymore. She is really an unselfish woman. Mapagbigay si Mama. All she wanted in her life is to follow Christ.  My Mama Esting influenced every aspect of my life. She has an impact in my life. I learned a lot from Mama. I would never forget her life of prayer and a life of love.

Mama tried to live the life of the Church which is a life of prayer and a life of love. Her life is already a living testimony or a homily. She did not preach at the pulpit but she preached it in our family and in our Church. If I am telling you all these things, I am simply her mouthpiece.

Mama has delivered the best homily, for she walked the talk. Mama is a martyr. She witnessed the faith.  Let us learn from her life. Let us learn from her selfless and undying love, from her generosity and kindness.  Her last words to Beget and Salve were words of affirmation. “Am I beautiful?” Mama asked them, “Salve, make me laugh and happy.”

Death is going home. Mama is gone forever in a place where there are no more heartaches, no more pain and suffering neither, nothing but joy without end. Mama is now telling us not to grieve for her, for now she’s free. Be not burdened of sorrow. Mama is wishing everyone the sunshine of tomorrow. God wants Mama to be free and be happy with Him in heaven.

Lord God, grant Mama your promises when she was baptized: Everlasting Joy in Heaven. Inside the coffin of Mama is the statue of St Claire of Assisi to accompany her.

What Mama Esting wanted in all her life is now realized. She wanted to come to the Church. Mama is now back to the Church where she was baptized, confirmed, nourished, strengthened, and anointed as a daughter of God.

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