May 24, 2024

Lent is not solely penitential and about suffering. It must lead us to a new life and a new way of looking at suffering and death.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season. Palm Sunday starts Holy Week. Easter vigil starts Easter season.
For the duration of the Lenten season, I tried to work on the topics and themes of the “Seven Ps”, namely, passion, palm, people, pilgrim, praises, prayer, and priest.
One tranquil day at Teng-ab, Bontoc, Mountain Province a woman visited me to tell me about how she suffered a lot from her husband. She almost ended their marriage but she persevered and asked Jesus for divine healing as a person and as a couple. It was through her prayers that she was able to manage and overcome the test of faith and life.
Today, she is still with her husband and children. All of them are trying to mend the missing link of their life. They realized that they were too focused with their business.
Every suffering when immersed with the suffering of Jesus will find its meaning.
Jesus suffered from false accusations. He suffered the punishment of a criminal yet he was innocent.
He expressed his human nature on the cross and cried. From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, alemasabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46)
His passion and death did not end in passion and death but life and salvation for all. His passion is therefore dubbed as salvific suffering. It is a suffering that saves and gives life. It is a suffering that gave deep meaning to suffering and his death that destroyed death as a punishment and consequence of sin.
Palms were used to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem and it signified his triumph over the temptation of the evil one through Peter.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23)
Palm trees are enduring, determined, and persevering despite the scarcity of water. Hence, palms are significant and symbolic of the kingship of Jesus. The kingship that is not self-serving but serving the people.
There are two kinds of people – the faithful ones and the traitors. Praises were proclaimed and they were proclaimed by hearts with sincerity and jealousy. Those who praised Jesus deceitfully were the ones who accused, judged, and condemned him to death. “Put him to death! Crucify him!” Those who praised him were those who cried and suffered with him until his last breath. “Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum; lauda Deum tuum, Sion. (Psalmi 147Biblia Sacra Vulgata)
We are pilgrims on this Earth. We are the militant church. We need to feed our souls and make it healthy. The Lenten observance of fasting, abstinence, prayer, and almsgiving are not just obligations but spiritual disciplines to aid our Lenten preparation for Easter life.
We need to pray more and we need to pray unceasingly.
Bishop Val emphasized in his homily during the Bontoc-Lagawe Chrism Mass the priesthood we have in Jesus. Priests are not ordained for livelihood or to run a livelihood but service to the people, otherwise priesthood will lose its essence. Spiritual narcissism too will destroy the purpose of priesthood.
Bishop Val encouraged the college of priests to refrain from any form of business and spiritual narcissism so that priesthood will serve its purpose. Pope Francis strongly emphasized, “Priests are not ordained to run a business or pursue a career.” Let us therefore continually examine our lives as ordained ministers.
It is therefore very important to put into the system of priests the value of fraternal correction. Pope Francis underscored fraternal correction in his messages on synodality. Priests and bishops must be open to correction from their fellow clergy and from the faithful. Priests are human beings too who have weaknesses and commit mistakes. Priests must grow from their openness to be corrected. Happy Easter Sunday! Reach me at [email protected]