Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NO NEED TO PUNISH YOURSELF


The Lenten season is one of the few things cherished by most Filipinos. It is during this period that they take a long break and enjoy their vacation from tedious work especially that this season falls right during summer. They love to spend the holiday in beaches, resorts, and other pleasant places where they invest time with their families, friends, relatives, and loved ones.

It is also during this season that some Catholics, tourists, and observers throng in known places like Pampanga to witness the traditional re-enactment of the passion of Christ. They enjoy seeing plays that portray the suffering Savior represented by individuals who made a pre-arranged vow to be beaten, whipped, hanged, and nailed on a tree/ cross. Other devotees visit familiar places like Pangasinan to pay homage on what they believe to be of sacred value. These practices, along with other rituals, were believed to be observed to gain favor from Deity.

I don’t want to question the motives nor prejudge the intention of my fellow Kababayans (Filipinos) who regularly observe certain rituals as mentioned. I love my fellow Kababayans so I don’t want them to be deprived of this opportunity to point out some valid reasons as to why certain practices are being observed, thereby giving them a fair chance to evaluate some matters and find a cordial middle ground where, in one way or another, truth may come into sight.

Why certain rituals are observed?

Most rituals are generational in nature. They had been passed from generation to generation, and things of these nature were believed to be good and acceptable regardless of the source of its origin.

Leaders, priests, and elders who happened to be the spiritual figure of the community can evoke strong influence to the people that every word they say is considered true and acceptable.  

People are comfort-oriented by nature. They love to stay in a familiar tradition and what is conventional rather than try the new but unfamiliar one. Truth is based solely on tradition and on what is customary.

In this regard, can we really blame the people for observing certain rituals and practices considering that everybody does them anyway? Just because everybody does certain things doesn’t necessarily mean that such practices are right. We still need to make careful study based on what is really authentic and true, so that people may truly be enlightened and released from the bondage of wrong belief.

In the book of John, the scripture says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8: 31(b) - 32)

The truth of the matter is that, the Lenten season should be the time for us to ponder, meditate, and appreciate the goodness and love of God for saving us all through the death and resurrection of His dear son, Jesus. It really doesn’t matter whether you commemorate it at home or anywhere else you want to, as long as you can internalize and capture the real essence and meaning of the season, that we may now live a fruitful and abundant life by surrendering our lives and allegiance to the only Savior, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His life because of His wonderful love for the whole of humanity.

There is actually no need for us to succumb ourselves to pain by duplicating, imitating, and repeating what Christ did on the cross, believing that by doing so, we can gain special favor from God. This is a blatant lie considering that Jesus Christ has already offered the ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of mankind and no other sinful human being can impersonate what Jesus did, for He is the only Savior and Lord.

The book of John is clear when it says, “I (Jesus) am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14: 6)

The time to gather our family and friends together to celebrate the season is laudable and good, and we can do better than that by not forgetting the real significance of the season and not just use the occasion for mere vacation, relaxation, and worst, dwell on unfounded beliefs brought by tradition.

The time to visit sacred places and witness Lenten plays is quite admirable. But why not consider doing a better option, by praising, worshiping, adoring, and thanking the Man of the Season, no other than Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!

Have a blessed Lenten Season!!

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