The story is told of a man who excitedly forwarded to his friend this text message: “We are invited to join the birthday party of Edong this Saturday. It will start at 8 a.m. No problem with entrance fee at the beach resort. No problem with food and drinks either. Eat and drink all you can! Whole day of fun and entertainment as well. The problem is I don’t know who this Edong is! Do you?”
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Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week. It is a week that is filled with so much emotion and drama about a man who suffered so much, died a cruel death, and rose again to give us new life. It is an awesome story about how loved we are, and how hopeful our situation is, and how we are all invited to a new level of existence. No problem about that. The problem is, do we know this man? Do we really know Jesus Christ? May this Holy Week be an opportunity for all of us to journey with Him, to really get to know Him more, appreciate Him more, and love Him more.
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In today’s gospel (Lk. 23, 1-49), we have an account of how Jesus of Nazareth was condemned before Pilate by the very same people who, a few days earlier, praised and acclaimed Him as He entered Jerusalem. In His last hours on this earth, Jesus, who preached to thousands of people for three years, no longer said much. He no longer needed to say much. His whole life, especially his impending suffering and death, was itself the message—powerful, loud and clear.
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There will be a lot of movement and traveling this week. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle invites us to “a journey of faith with Jesus,” to walk with Jesus, and get to know Him more! For that to really happen, we must slow down, be still, be silent, and really listen. May we find quiet moments with the Lord in prayer.
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Yesterday, in more than 150 countries all over the world, the “Earth Hour” was observed from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This mass “switch-off,” which is now on its seventh year, was initiated not only for power conservation but also to heighten our awareness of climate change. This Holy Week, let us set aside our personal agenda, and heighten our awareness of God’s agenda in our lives. Let us make the sacrifice of switching off our earthly agenda and desires, and switch on to God.
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Cardinal Tagle also urges us that our journey of faith this Holy Week be also a journey with others, especially with those who are suffering. Today is Alay Kapwa Sunday. It reminds us of Jesus’ last wish and command that we love one another as He has loved us. In concrete terms, let us share joyfully and generously whatever time, talents, and treasures we have, for the last and the least among us.
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The problem with many of us is that our observance of the Holy Week becomes merely an observation. We just go through our traditional practices and rituals without really being absorbed, and moved, and changed. May we not be just observers, spectators, and bystanders. May we become participants and stake-holders in this greatest story of love that unfolds before us this Holy Week.
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“We are pilgrims, not tourists.” This is what I always remind fellow pilgrims, especially those who are so engrossed in picture-taking, shopping, and what have you. This Holy Week, may we allow God to speak to us instead of us speaking to Him through our set of devotions and prayers. Below is a beautiful reminder, especially in the Holy Week, that we are pilgrims on a journey in this life.
A Pilgrim’s Prayer (John M. Haffert)
If some things do not happen as they are scheduled, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If I should get tired and inclined to become short-tempered, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If my meal in a foreign country may not be to my particular liking, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If any delays should occur and I should become anxious, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If some other pilgrim is making noise so that I cannot hear the guide, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim and not a tourist when I ask that person to be a bit more quiet!
If someone takes a better seat or a choice place, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If I find myself last in line waiting, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
If I should get a chance to help another person, who always seems to be annoying me, Lord, may I remember that I am a pilgrim, not a tourist!
But Lord, especially let me remember that what I find objectionable in another is really what You oftentimes find objectionable in me, and let me remember this and forgive the other, as You are continually forgiving me!
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A moment with the Lord:
Lord, journey with us, and remind us that our earthly journey is not about going far and fast, but a journey to Your heart. Amen.