(originally posted June 2, 2008)
While I was walking down the Laguna road that leads from my dorm to SUMC, I noticed a woman and her two kids dressed in filthy rags sitting by the roadside. They appeared to be eating. As I passed, they turned to me.
The kids looked like those street urchins plying the downtown and Boulevard areas asking all and sundry for "piso lang, te."I have given in to these requests once or twice, but the pity that I used to feel for such beggars have since turned to irritation. I've seen those kids gamble away the coins given them by strangers. A friend also related that these childrens' parents once refused to let their children go to a feeding program that her brother was organizing because participating would take time away from begging.
When the little family turned to look at me, therefore, I prepared to say "No" once again to the request for piso that I was sure was coming. To my utter surprise, one of the kids smiled at me and said, "Mangaon ta te." ("Ate, let's eat.")
I felt what must have been a dagger piercing through my heart. That I, who had more than they would ever have, but who was preparing to refuse any request they would make, should be extended an invitation to share a meal that was surely not enough for even the three of them -- that humbled me more than I could bear. I thought they would be asking something from me, but, as it turns out, it was I who took something away that day: much-needed humility, and a profound reminder that God's grace is for all.