Associate with the lowly

Few days back, our muslim brothers and sisters celebrate their victory after one month fasting. I recall one time when I join their happiness with them. I was studyin my PhD in the University and there is always an aunt who usually cleans my lab and my cubicle. She was a muslim. We usually greet each other. Sometimes I talked in Bahasa (malay/indonesian), sometimes I talked in english.

But everytime I met, I usually talked to her and greet. I started to listen to her story. I start to know some of her friends who were cleaners in the university as well. I started to talked to some of them.

One day it was few days before the Hari Raya (idul fitri), and I talked to her, and she told me her difficulties, how much she got paid, and she didn’t get any extra money for the Hari Raya. But guess what?? After finished speaking she invited me to come to her place to celebrate with her. I said, yes!

So on the holiday, I went to her place, she has told me where it is. Trust me, it is not the luxurius place in Singapore. I found it difficult to find it. But I finally found it. It was a small room, but very warm.  I saw many people. I was a afraid to come in, but suddenly the aunty came and invited me to come in. She introduced me to her family, to her sons and to her grand sons and grand daughter. They served me with drinks, and I chatted, I told a bit of myself to them. Then, they invited me to the dining table which just a few meter away from the living room. I went there and saw delicious food! She was afraid I couldn’t eat it, since she saw I am a chinese. But I assure her, the food looks more like the one in my home, and I prefer than any chinese food I eat in singapore 🙂

So I talked with them, laugh, chatted, and thank them. When I went back, I realized that people who came gave an “angpao” to the aunty, and I didn’t bring anything to them. I apologized. But they said they were happy that I could come. That is what matters. So I thank them, and left the place.

How could she who were poor give so much? How could the house be so warm with love and laughter? How is it that in the midst of all her difficulties, she gave more than what I could give? And you know what, the following year, she invited me again to come to celebrate with her family. I realized that the best gift we can give is not our money, but ourselves.

I recall the bible passage from Paul

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Rom 12:16

Associate with the lowly. These words ring a bell in my heart. Associate with the lowly. What a message! In the time when the world is asking you to associate yourself with the higher class, the Gospel says, Associate with the Lowly.

As our muslim brothers and sisters celebrate their Hari Raya this year, I recall this lesson that the Lord is teaching me: associate with the Lowly.


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