There are two things that have long been part of Filipino tradition during the Holy Week: 1. families get out of their usual routine and travel, either locally or abroad for a few days; or 2. stay home and do the traditional Holy Week rituals as penance for the sins they committed.
The past days, people are obviously rushing out of Metro Manila, hoping to spend the next few days with their loved ones in their respective provinces and get out of the usual busy life in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, from where we live in Mandaluyong, barangay officials set up a traditional “pabasa” (or reading of the Passion of the Christ).
As I think about the age-old Filipino tradition, I’m reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16-18, which says, 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”
In reality, two forces are in conflict- one is the life directed by God through the Spirit’s guidance and other, a life that is controlled by sin.
The Holy Week is a great opportunity for everyone to pause for the moment and take a deep look into our lives.
The Philippines has long been dubbed as the “only Christian nation”, perhaps because of how religious or spiritual Filipinos are, owing to the numerous special Holidays we normally observe, from Holy Week, All Saint’s Day, to Christmas.
However, it would be worth noting that even if every Filipino observes all these special occasions as part of the “Christian” calendar, that won’t guarantee changed life.
But changed life begins, only when we consider the finished work of Christ on the cross.
The cross, the most cruel death penalty man has ever invented, brought pain and eventually, death to Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.
However, He didn’t stay there on the cross forever, because three days later, Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:6).
I am grateful for what Christ did on the cross, for on that cross, He demonstrated the fullness of His love for us as well as showed the way for us to be truly reconciled to God.
Romans 5:8-10 (NIV) – “8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
As we observe the Holy Week, I pray that each one of us would have a meaningful and above all, personal encounter with Christ, our Savior and our Lord.