December 5, 2023

Jesus was transfigured at Mount Tabor. His apostles witnessed it and they were transformed from fear to fortitude; from ignorance to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom; and from disorientation to focus. The transfiguration was a prefiguration of the resurrection of Jesus.
We read and ponder on the gospel of John 20: 19-31. On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the 12, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
The resurrection of Jesus was an event that was not accepted by all. It’s the most important part of Jesus’ paschal mystery and the central point of Christian faith and yet it is sad that disbelief exists. Even among the apostles, some did not believe despite the credible testimonies of eye witnesses.
I facilitated the funeral service of lakay Bonifacio “Otang” Balabag at their house in Tetep-an Norte, Sagada, Mountain Province on Easter Octave. Some came for the food, others as onlookers, and still others for prayer. I heard side comments from people especially among the unbelievers. Fortunately, I was fully focused on the risen Jesus and his gospel.
Lakay Otang was the father of dap-ay Astol at Tetep-an Norte. As the father of the dap-ay, he had command over it. He was looked up by the community as an exemplary authority.
We thank lakay Otang for allowing the use of the dap-ay for the community’s monthly masses. In 2020, we had the most beautiful event at his dap-ay – the baptism of 19 individuals to include the oldest, lakay Bong-ot who was 93 years old. Lakay Otang at 86 was his godparent.
Lakay Otang was the grandson of lakay Bong-ot, the father of dap-ay Kaglay-on. Lakay Bong-ot said, “I may be the oldest and yet baby in faith. I am happy getting baptized and becoming a child of God.”
We can see the beautiful transformation of material culture like the transformation of the dap-ay to a place of community worship. The grand baptism and the regular celebration of the holy mass at dap-ay Astol are are beautiful events of inculturation and Easter.
Jesus is truly alive in the indigenous way of life of the people.
The culture of “inayan,” “lawa,” or “paneyew” are better understood in the resurrection of Jesus. Resurrection means the rising of Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus was the fulfillment of his command, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)
If Jesus did not resurrect, our faith is empty. Our good deeds will end in vain and our worship is meaningless. Because Jesus is risen, we have a sense of direction and a sense of purpose.
The resurrection of Jesus may be confronted by disbelief because nobody witnessed it but through his apparitions, he has proven himself.
I summarize the Easter story as the transfiguration of Jesus, transformation of the apostles, resurrection of Jesus, apparition to the disciples, belief and disbelief of the disciples, and our faith as Easter people.
Sagada is currently in the top three among municipalities with the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the province despite the strict observance of curfew, health protocols, and checkpoints.
Discipline and cooperation of course are necessary ingredients to curb transmission but we need to fortify it in the risen Jesus. There is a need to be more integral and holistic in approach to address mental health, spiritual health, and psychological and emotional health of people.
The social concern is not sheer physical battle against the virus. There is a great need to continually seek the intervention of God and the need to increase our faith. Jesus destroyed death and he restored life. He will surely overcome Covid-19.
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