“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.” (Is. 53: 11)
The streets are deserted, traffic is pleasantly less, and it seems more than half of Manila is gone. People have left either to go to the provinces to spend the Holy Week there, or to enjoy the “vacation” that the Holy Days bring. It’s not entirely wrong to go to the beach, but you miss the point of the break. And instead of getting refreshed come Easter Week, you feel tired from the stress of traveling with the crowd.
Attending the Paschal Triduum (also known as Easter Triduum, in Latin: Triduum Paschale) is a great experience worth attending again and again. This is the period of three days that begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. It recalls the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels. The break is intended for us to go on a deeper reflection of God’s infinite love for Man. In fact, my favorite is the Easter Vigil, when several readings are reflected upon, essentially the salvation history. These days, try singing (really singing) the Psalms with the congregation, not to mention listening to the Litany of the Saints. Remember that along with these holy men and women mentioned in the Litany are thousands upon thousands of others who have chosen to demonstrate their deep love for God by giving their lives to Him. When you renew your vows at Baptism at Easter, take it to heart. I assure you, it is a truly remarkable experience of our faith.
In today’s First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us how the Lord loves us, even as we treat the Lord harshly when we ignore His commands,
“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.” (Is. 53: 7)
The sad reality is that Man has always been generally inconsistent, flip-flopping especially on matters of faith and morals. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people waved palms,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”
It was a moment of great rejoicing and jubilation for His followers. They thought it was already the arrival of the promised King, unaware of the imminent Passion and Death of the Lord. They haven’t understood what the Messiah must go through before His glory, thus their faith was superficial, so to speak. Fast forward a few days later, the same people were now shouting “Crucify him, crucify him!” Then they mocked him as Roman soldiers tortured him throughout the night.
How much are you willing to give up for Jesus?
How deep is your love for Him?
It takes more than just answering these questions as these speak of the importance of getting to know our faith better, so that we are wise enough to discern the things of the world and of the Spirit. We can’t be swayed easily when others seem to know the Bible more than what we know. So, because our faith hasn’t taken that much depth, we can waver. Are you like the people waving palms, and yet days later, shouting “Crucify him”, because your faith is shallow and shoal?
While we say “He is King and Savior” often, we also deny His Kingship by refusing to obey His only commands that we love Him and one another. Don’t we render Him mock tribute, pay Him lip service with our half-hearted devotions?
In the noon of Calvary, when the Heavens released clouds to darken the sky, the veil in Jerusalem’s temple was torn. It was a sign that by His Death Jesus destroyed forever the barrier separating us from the Holy Presence of God. He was God and yet humbled himself to come to us, we’re reminded by the Prophet Isaiah,
“But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Is. 53: 5)
Have we realized that every time we offend Him, we repeat His passion and suffering? Despite our repeated failures, our constant wavering, Jesus still humbles himself to come to us, offering us His body and blood in the Eucharist.
This Good Friday, let us make a resolve to deepen our love for Jesus. Let us pray that the Spirit give us the wisdom to value every moment with the Lord, for it is only in doing so that we show how deeply we love and honor Him.
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Lk. 23: 46)