One of the greatest challenges the Catholic faithful all over the world face during the Lenten season is the reality of evil and suffering. Christians are baffled by the seeming contradiction between the existence of a loving God and the fact of evil. When we ourselves are suffering, we tend to lose faith. How could a good God allow us to suffer pain? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil and suffering?
Holy Thursday, as the first day of the sacred Paschal Triduum (Ang Mga Mahal na Araw), tells us the meaning of Passover as God’s saving action revealed in the wondrous love of Jesus for us (John 13:1-15). The washing of feet symbolizes for Saint John its Eucharistic actualization.
WHEN I was a kid, the Easter holiday was always about the Visita Iglesia, a tradition that has you visiting several churches to recite the Stations of the Cross.
Blessed palms were carried in procession as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Others waved branches of trees, and the large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. The crowds which preceded him chanted: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.” (Matthew 21:8-9)
WHEN I was a youngster growing up under martial law, Holy Week would be a time for what was then RPN9 to show all the religious shows, like Fr. Patrick Peyton’s Family Rosary Crusade series, movies like Spartacus, Ben-Hur and The Robe, as well as the films depicting Marian apparitions. I especially remember The Song of Bernadette, which depicted the life of Bernadette Soubirous, a young woman who lived in Lourdes, France, and reported visions of the Holy Mother from February to July 1858.
“Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: Who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life….”—Pope Benedict XVI
Prayer is to present one’s self in the presence of God who awaits to transform and purify us. For God is the fullness of being, every perfection, without beginning and without end.
For the next three Sundays of Lent, Saint John provides the gospel narratives proper to catechumenal initiation and important to the renewal of our baptismal vocation. In our Lenten pilgrimage, we now pause with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well to reflect on Jesus Christ’s irreplaceable role for our salvation (John 4:5-42).
Each year at the start of the Lenten season, we are led to the desert to undergo a survival course with Jesus. The narration of the temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11) shows us that to be tempted is human, but to overcome temptation is Christian.