Sunday, 31 March 2013

Holy Week in the Philippines

Sunday. Easter Sunday as Christians of every denomination call it. For some it indicates the end of the long weekend allocated for the said "holiday". But for those in the faith, it meant more than that.

While I have experienced Easter weekend back in the UK, I find it very dull and ordinary. People would be grabbing the chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of work and will just be chilling at home or at a pub, the children hoping to get lots of eggs (chocolate ones) from their parents and looking forward to eating a hearty lunch perhaps with the whole family, but still there's something missing in there. Why do we celebrate it?

I grew up as a devout/religious daughter who has been asked to keep the tradition yearly by our parents. I remember when I was little, as soon as Maundy Thursday comes we are not allowed to play outside with our neighbors. Good Friday meant no more loud music, no noise of any kind. Why? Because they say "God is dead". For little kids like me and my sisters, that just meant no fun for the whole weekend until the time they say "God is alive" again. Our favorite cartoon programs won't be on TV for 3 days which bums you a lot. Everyone is called to do some 'reflection' and/or penitence. In other words to a child it meant looking sad and feeling sorry for your sins. And that goes on every holy week, year in, year out.

As the Western countries find 3 days off (or sometimes four - Easter Monday slash bank holiday) to be at home or on vacation and take time off from work neglecting the real essence of why we commemorate this time of the year, my countrymen go back to traditions. From simple ones like visiting different churches, attending mass and not eating pork every Friday to the extremes like actually re-enacting the passion and death of Christ that which include slashing your back with thorny whips, carrying a cross where you will also be nailed on for a good few minutes or so, which I totally find morbid and at the same time an outrageous insanity, these are what I grew up on. I thought they were what I need and why I am a Christian.

When I came to know Christ, my view of this season changed. Being able to understand that Jesus did it all for us meant I don't have to do anything else to receive forgiveness of my sins. He died to finish it all off. All He is asking us is to put our trust in Him, have faith in Him. No more sacrifices, no more penitence which indicates no amount of good work can top off what He has done. As in the words of our Lord, "It is finished."

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 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! - Romans 5:6-10

And that also made me realize that what's done is done. No more repetitions. I cannot out-do him or prove I can also do what He's done 2000 years ago. What I can do is say 'Thank you Lord!'. 

To understand holy week is to first know Christ and what He's done on those gruesome days that ended on Calvary after which He overcame death. And second is to trust Him that He is the only way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. Not through religious acts nor through anybody's name but Him. And last but definitely not the least, why did Jesus do it? Because He love us.

1 John 4:10 - This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
May we all understand and experience the true meaning of what holy week is, not by what religion dictates to us but by what God's word tells us. Have a good week everyone!

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