APRIL 8, 2012

Churches everywhere around the country and the world, were mostly filled last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The washing of the disciples’ feet, which led to watching with the Lord in vigil, produced snaking lines of people, and more hordes of people for the watchful waiting before the altar of repose. And although liturgically speaking, the period called the Paschal Triduum that began during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and which closes with the  Easter Vigil, ought not be dedicated to confessions, snaking lines were seen in every Church where the unsung heroes of Holy Week in the Philippines, the priests, held their fort, heroically, steadfastly, for many long hours of Thursday and Friday.

Lent should have ended on Holy Thursday morning. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper began the paschal triduum, and the three-day period was meant no longer to be penitential days, but a three-day celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord. This explains why the liturgy on Maundy Thursday began with the sign of the cross, but did not end with a final blessing. The same is true with Good Friday’s veneration of the cross … no sign of the cross in the beginning, and no blessing at the end. The whole three days was meant to be one continuum of a celebration, that reaches its high point with the Easter vigil.

My reflection last Good Friday had to do with the issue of Christ’s Lordship, as against mere lies or lunacy.

Let me unpack this a little bit more. In our times, anything that is not acceptable to the hearer or readers is branded as lies. Just look at our mainstream media. Everything that does not jibe with one’s preconceived notion of truth, or does not square with one’s brand of facts is passed off as a canard, a blatant lie, or as propaganda.

The soldiers who guarded the Lord’s tomb and “lost it,” as it were, were told to seal the event with a big lie … “His disciples came at night and stole the body.” That, by the way, settled the issue of the “empty tomb.” But it did not answer for the many apparitions and visions of the Risen Lord after the body was reportedly stolen. Take note, dear reader, that the disciples who told and retold the story of the Risen Lord, reported their story not based on the empty tomb, per se, but based on what they saw … “We have seen the Lord!” In other words, the sight of the empty tomb might have given them the initial impetus, the initial drive, but it did not explain what they proclaimed later as a fact … “The Lord is risen just as He has said!”

In our times, too, everything that is mysterious and not easily explainable in scientific terms is made to pass off as something that only lunatics can conjure up. The resurrection, some of these so-called wise men say, is a fruit of the exuberance of sick minds, or of a lunatic mind-set.

But whilst it can contradict for a while, what one or two of these witnesses say, that point to the experience, as against mere fact, of the resurrection, the same argument cannot hold water over a cloud of witnesses that stand up for their own experience of the same fact, the same event, the same promise and fulfillment. Lunacy may be ascribed to one or two of them, but lunacy cannot forever explain the Christ event, in general, and most especially the resurrection event. For one thing, whose lunacy ought we ascribe this to? To Jesus? No lunatic ever goes through such lengths just to tell the world he is insane. To Peter and the college of apostles? To the Church at large, now in existence for more than 2,000 years?

One of the twelve might have gone overboard, as, indeed, Judas the Betrayer did, but are we to posit that all the rest of the twelve, along with Jesus’ own mother, Mary, and the rest of the small band of brothers and sisters who followed him wherever he went, were all under the influence of the waxing and waning of the moon? What about the millions and millions from generation to generation, who have witnessed, not primarily to the fact, but to their own experience of the Resurrection for over two thousand years, up until our times?

Yes, it was based neither on lunacy, nor lies.

It was all based on the light that He came to bring … the light that shone upon all men. It was based on the light that He was … “I am the light of the world.” And no lamp is lit, only to be placed under a bushel basket, but lit to shed light for everyone in the room.

This is why the Easter Vigil started with the blessing of the new fire. This is why we entered a darkened Church, with only the light of the Paschal Candle leading us, for Christ is, indeed, our Light.

This in essence is what we celebrate today – the coming of Jesus the Light, to lighten our darkness. And boy! What darkness surrounds us now.

Now is not the occasion for me to list down what darknesses envelope us. Now is the time for me to glory in the light. For this light has negated the ultimate darkness that is behind all other darkness of the mysterious human endeavor and enterprise. Where there are human beings like you and me, there is sinfulness, there is unfaithfulness, there is lack of integrity, and moral weakness. Most of all, there is death, the ultimate fruit of sin, and the ultimate darkness.

Jesus, by rising, has broken that spell. He has brought new life. He has smashed the shackles that bind our human spirit to helplessness and hopelessness. He is Risen. Alleluia! Just as He had promised, Alleluia!

Nasugbu, Batangas
Pico de Loro – 3:55 PM


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