Thursday, April 21, 2011

Exodus and Calvary

In the Christian world, this week marks the beginning of the Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday reflects on the Washing of the Feet and Christ's Last Supper. Good Friday, the death of Christ. Black Saturday, his burial and the preparation for the resurrection which we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

The Philippines, being the largest Catholic nation in Asia, once upon a time celebrated the Holy Week in prayer, fasting, abstinence, and reflection of life and death of our Lord.

Unlike many other countries where Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are business as usual, the Philippines has one of the longest weekends in the calendar year during the Lenten season leading up to Easter Sunday. The other longest weekend is the Christmas holidays.

Unlike the Christmas holidays where the expenditure is traditionally a gift giving (and receiving of course) event, the Holy Week is anticipated by most Filipinos as an opportunity for family bonding in the form of a vacation or outing. Hence, all the news channels focus mainly on the traffic of the Filipinos moving OUT of the overcrowded metropolis.

The annual exodus to the beaches or provinces has risen exponentially in the past years. The trek has literally pushed the people to pack their bags to head south to Boracay or Bohol or Palawan or Cebu. And while I have nothing against the escape to the white sands and crystal clear beaches of the country, I think that many of us have distorted the meaning of the Holy Week. Instead of reliving the passion and agony of Jesus Christ, we have preferred to pamper ourselves to the point of forgetting the reason for the season.

Which leads to the story of the lives of other people like my patient who is at the throng of death in the hospital. Diagnosed to have Acute Myelogenous Leukemia a few weeks ago and intubated in the Intensive Care Unit, the family of N.G. sleep in a make-shift room for relatives of ICU patients huddled together, praying that their daughter make it during these difficult times - in spite of the financial strain that the illness and its complications have taken its toll on them.

The other day, N.G. was extubated and hopefully, is on her way to recovery from the complications of infection in a leukemic patient. This is their Calvary and I can only join them in prayers and watch over them during the Holy Week.

While we may have our own reasons for "enjoying" the Holy Week or "suffering" with our dearly beloved, we need to redefine our purpose for the Lenten Season and not miss out on the objective of why Jesus Christ, suffered and died for our sins.

If but for once a year we need to reflect on the generosity of God's love for us, not only during the best of times but also in the worst parts of our lives, then as Catholics in faith, we need to renew this commitment.

After all, we will always need to remember that no greater love was given by God to man, than to make his only Son, suffer and die on the cross in order to save us.

We need to die a little, and reflect on our Good Fridays so that we can find meaning to celebrate our Easter Sundays.

[Photo from Lost Seed]

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