Deepening Our Faith through Repentance, Forgiveness, Sacrifice

Manila Bulletin, March 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Deepening Our Faith through Repentance, Forgiveness, Sacrifice


After keeping the ritual of waving palm fronds this Palm Sunday in churches to commemorate Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Christian believers (the practicing, the nominal, and the ritualistic) are called to ponder on the tenets of their faith and predispose them to acts of holiness, especially in this Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

What should Christians reflect on this Holy Week? First off, Holy Monday's gospel focuses on the role of women in the service of Christ as depicted in an encounter of Mary (sister of Lazarus and Martha) with Jesus whose feet she anointed with expensive perfumed oil and dried them with her hair. Christians know full well that it was a woman, Eve, who caused the downfall of man. But it was also a woman, Mary, Jesus' mother, who was the instrument chosen by God to bring about redemption, says the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Holy Tuesday's gospel relates Peter's acts and utterances denying any association with Christ - the Peter chosen by Jesus to be the head of the Church he founded! The gospel narrative speaks of how the boastful Peter screwed up, denying him three times. It was betrayal of the worst kind!

Today, in this country and in many parts of the world, boastful Peters are legion - those who abuse their power, those who utter empty promises to the electorate, those who are so afraid to lose their power that it is used to stifle dissent or disagreement. Just tune in to the news or read the papers about how some leaders in the Middle East and Africa oppress and betray the people they have sworn to serve! In the corporate world, boastful Peters are found in autocratic executives and managers - those who have no qualms about stepping on anyone's toes just to keep their position, or those who abuse their employees by not giving them just wages or the credit they deserve.

Betrayal - that of Judas Iscariot - is the subject of the gospel for Holy Wednesday (Matthew 25:14-25) in which Jesus turns to his 12 disciples at the Passover meal saying, "He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."

Betrayal is evident in many places - in homes where marriages are plagued by infidelity, dishonesty and indifference, in places of work where greedy corporate leaders hide important information about finances until they're caught flying by the seat of their pants and their organizations crash thus abandoning their loyal employees. The Church has been a victim of renegade priests and bishops (and those involved in sex abuse scandals), and lay leaders who pay lip service to loyalty and work with a personal agenda. …

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