THE HOLY PIÑATA

Every birthday for my Venezuelan-American grandchildren comes with a piñata. (Ana turned 13 on May 25th. )

Grandmother, mother and the birthday child participate in designing the piñata which is then constructed of papier-mâché or its equivalent. Will it be the form of a person, an animal or an object? The inside of the shell is then stuffed with a variety of candies.

As the birthday party progresses the time for striking the piñata arrives. Father Horeb ties a rope to the piñata and throws the rope over a tree branch in the backyard. Then holding on to the other end of the rope he steps back so he can control the height of the piñata at will, while avoiding getting hit by the flailing children.

The children gather around, eager for one of two things to happen. They desire to be the one who strikes the piñata solidly enough to release its contents. But that desire is secondary to the desire to secure as much of the falling candy as possible when the piñata breaks.

Starting with the youngest, each child is given an opportunity to swing at and hopefully break the piñata. The child is blindfolded, given a stick and positioned in front of the piñata and instructed to swing.

The group of children shout instructions as the young child swings wildly usually missing the pinata. Then Horeb will lower the piñata to where the child has an easy hit but not solid enough to break the piñata, because it is important that the piñata endure several rounds of swinging children. After three swings the next child is blindfolded and takes three swings.

After several rounds the excitement is building to a peak and Horeb allows the piñata to be struck solidly by one of the older more muscular children.

The piñata finally breaks under the impact of several well placed blows and the candy scatters everywhere. The children rush in screaming with excitement. Mothers help the very youngest to claim some of the candy. But the older children need no help, as they eagerly grab all they can and stuff it into their plastic collection bags.

By the end of the mad dash, some of the more aggressive children will have accumulated a larger amount of candy. They will then spot a child who is looking a bit down because he or she was not able to get as much in the raucous competition. The victor will then share some of the spoils with that child, either spontaneously or in response to the subtle prompting of a parent. So all the children go away happy.

As I reflected on this event, I had the following impressions:

Each child is totally convinced that they are going to get something ‘absolutely good’ from this experience.

Each child has the sense that they are ‘absolutely entitled’ to get all that they can possibly get.

Each child is ‘absolutely engaged’ in full participation. No one needs to encourage the children to rush in to the circle. They participate with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

It occurs to me that God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, wants us to come into His presence with the exuberance of a child. He wants us to be absolutely convinced that He has good gifts for us. He wants us to know that we are absolutely entitled to the gifts. And He wants us to be absolutely engaged in enthusiastically and whole heartedly claiming all of our inheritance.

It further occurred me that all these good gifts from God were made available to us because ‘someone was struck’. God allowed his son Jesus Christ to be struck and killed so that the wealth of heaven could be released to us.

In that sense, Jesus Christ is ‘The Holy Piñata’!

Let us joyfully rush in to claim all that He has released for us.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

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