I WANT to burst forth this Easter Sunday morning with joyous alleluias welcoming the liberating news that Christ has risen and by His resurrection signaled true reformation among us — but I can’t.
Pardon my possibly annoying you with my dejection. But I’m not sure this nation that had suffered though decades of Good Fridays under several administrations will rise soon enough above the uncertainty in the air.
On this Easter Sunday, are we a people morally reborn? Is our situation substantially improved compared to how it was scores of Good Fridays ago? Stretching the view to the 2022 presidential end-term, where are the signs that true change will come before then?
Surveys say that 90-plus percent of Filipinos claim to be happy, probably meaning they insist on being optimistic despite their difficulties. How the numbers were juggled out of the computer is a mystery to me.
In an impassioned Good Friday homily, Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asked his listeners who between the “Thief” and the Innocent Man they would choose to crucify.
If the managed trending in social media is any indication, the crowd is likely to side with the Thief — a generic term we (not Tagle) use here to refer to the ruler who steals innocence, human rights, decency, possessions, even lives.
Seeing the good cardinal cry as he asked the question, it seems he already sensed the answer: the mob would roar its bahala na preference to gamble the future with a populist thief who tells the people what they want to hear at the moment.
When will we find our real Easter Sunday? Will Filipinos, many of whom have strayed away from the flock, still be able to find their way back? Posing the question from the perspective of the Church, will the shepherd still find the missing ones?
Still, we ask readers to dismiss the pessimism as just windblown straw. Let us continue to watch and pray that this Easter Sunday, or maybe the next, will lead to our liberation from the Thief.
• Pope washes feet of 2 Pinoy prisoners
FILIPINO workers have the knack for being where a living has to be made. For instance, whenever and wherever a merchant ship sinks or is attacked by pirates, a Pinoy is likely to be among the hapless crew.
This came mind Thursday when we heard reports that two of the 12 prisoners at the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome whose feet Pope Francis washed in Lenten rites were Filipinos! Two out of a dozen inmates is a remarkable 16.66 percent!
We would be interested in the personal circumstances of our compatriots in a Roman prison, how they got there in the first place and the chances of their being set free.
RomeReports.com said the dozen consisted of four Italians, two Filipinos, two Moroccans, a Moldavan, a Colombian, a Nigerian, and one from Sierra Leone. Eight of them were Catholic, two Muslim, one Orthodox and another one Buddhist.
Explaining the gesture of one who came “to serve, not to be served,” the Pope said: “At the entrance of the house were the slaves who washed the feet. It was slave work, but it was a service, a service done by slaves. Jesus wants to do this service to give us an example of how to serve one another.”
During his prison visit, Francis stopped to meet the sick inmates in the infirmary and others in a high-security section of the facility.
It was the fourth time he celebrated Maundy Thursday Mass at a prison. In 2013, he did so in the Casal de Marmo youth detention center, and in 2015 he celebrated Mass and washed feet in the Rebbibia prison. Last year, he presided over the ceremony in the Paliano prison.
• We prefer Caesar the ruler to Christ?
AS SAID above, Cardinal Tagle did not say the crowd was made to choose between Christ and the thief. In his homily in Pilipino, the talked of a choice between Christ and Caesar the ruler. Excerpts from his homily:
“Mga minamahal na kapatid sa pananampalataya, dumating na naman tayo sa isang Biyernes Santo. xxx Ang paglalahad ayon kay San Juan ng mga pangyayari patungo sa kanyang pagkapako sa krus at kamatayan, ay parang isang drama.
“Inilabas ni Pilato si Hesus, iniharap sa mga tao, at ang sabi, ‘Narito ang inyong hari!’ At ang sigaw ng mga tao, ‘Patayin siya! Ipako siya sa krus!’ Nagtanong muli si Pilato. Kumbaga, huling pagkakataon. ‘Ipapako ko ba sa krus ang inyong hari? Ipapako ko ba sa krus ang inyong hari?’ Pinagdedesisyon ang mga tao. ‘Huling tanong: Ipapako ko ba sa krus ang inyong hari?’ Ang sagot ng mga tao, ‘Wala kaming hari kundi ang Cesar! Hindi iyan ang aming hari!’
“Ang desisyon ng mga tao ay ito: Sino ba ang tunay naming hari? Sino ang hari na aming poprotektahan? Ang pinili nila, ang Cesar. ‘Ang Cesar ay alagaan, ang Cesar ay protektahan. Itong si Hesus, hindi namin kinikilala ‘yang hari, kaya maaari na siyang patayin.
“Tinatanong tayo ngayon muli: Ipapako ba sa krus si Hesus? Papayagan ba natin ipako sa krus si Hesus? Ano ‘’yung hari na isasalba natin? ’Di bale nang mawala si Hesus, huwag lang itong haring ito. Hesus, kung ikaw ay ikukumpara ko dito sa ibang hari, sorry ha, mawala ka na, huwag lang itong aking hari.’
“Itong tanong ni Pilato ay umaalingawngaw pa hanggang sa ating panahon. Araw-araw tinatanong tayo – ipapako ko ba sa krus si Hesus? Araw-araw sumasagot tayo. Sino ang pinipili nating ipapatay? Si Hesus o ang ibang pinipili nating hari?
“Nakalulungkot. Ipinagpalit si Hesus. Pero ito ang napakaganda sa kuwento. Kailanman, si Hesus paulit-ulit na pinagpapalit. Pinagpalit na siya sa tatlumpung pilak. Pinagpalit siya ni Pedro para sa sarili niyang kaligtasan. Pinagpalit siya ng bayan para kay Cesar. Pero sa lahat ng ‘yan, hindi tayo pinagpalit ni Hesus.
“Kahit siya’y nasasaktan, ang pinipili pa rin niya, tayo. Kahit siya’y kinutya: ‘Kung ikaw ang tunay na Mesiyas, iligtas mo ang iyong sarili!’ Pero pumili siya. Hindi sarili niya ang ililigtas niya. Ililigtas niya tayo. Wala na siyang ibang pinipili kundi tayo – ang ating kabutihan.
“Subalit ang tao, ipagpapalit siya.”