Good Friday’s bottom line
Calm and quiet, or an extended break from the summer’s scorching heat. Peace from life’s daily hustle and bustle can be one’s Holy Week disposition. Every year, there is this pause. But do we even get to think what this big deal is all about?
There is, of course, the “Catholic” element, the religious dimension. But like the sun, the rain and the wind do not choose who they touch, the days of Holy Week are shared by all, too. It is an opportunity for all people to stop and reflect on what life is all about. It is a chance for “grounding.”
In the Catholic tradition, Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, sends a reminder: Remember, men and women, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. I have come to realize that there is truth transcending this reality: Remember that God formed that dust to be you, by His exclusive choice, from His unconditional love. Thus, you are from God, and to God you shall return. God the Creator, who is perfect, can and will not do anything imperfect.
From God’s perspective, human beings are perfect, having been given the power of choice—free will, the gift that perfects life and allows man, woman and child to be able to make the choice to love like God, that is, unconditionally.
The exercise of choice contravening the nature of God as love—that is, one overflowing with caring for fellow beings above self—is what diminishes the human person to bare “dust,” ”disconnecting” from God, though God remains constant in the person. The “original sin” and “sin” manifest rejection of God, but God will never reject His beloved, nor will He force Himself on anyone.
The reality in the world visible to the naked eye may seem devoid of “godliness” or God’s constant presence. But that presence is real. Awareness of that presence is the challenge. It is sad that many approaches toward attaining awareness are premised on the perspective of “dust,” and not the reality that God chose to be present with the “dust.”
A false step would most likely not get one to his destination. “Being human” is often used as an excuse for weakness. On the contrary, being human is the best rationale for being. It expresses the touch of the divine in the human person. Being human defines the human being.
Think of the moment of death, the final breath. Will there still be consciousness? Or will it simply be total darkness? Absolute nothingness?
What reality awaits us beyond? Does existence end? Do we all simply get consigned to oblivion? If existence ends at the moment of physical death, then an entire lifetime is meaningless. The hedonists’ dictum of “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” acquires total soundness.
If life ends at our physical death, there can be no justification for the Cross that fateful Friday on Golgotha over 2,000 years ago. The gruesome crucifixion can have no meaning without life after death. That Cross is precisely the exemplary expression that there IS life after death; or, more precisely, life continues beyond death.
Life is forever, if we choose life. The alternative is eternal death, if life is rejected. This is the bottom line of Good Friday: The life we have can be offered to be the ultimate sacrifice to proclaim the Truth of Life forever.
The growing awareness of this truth, this reality, is the ultimate good news to be shared with every person. Sharing this awareness is the universal calling of every human being. Let that presence be self-proclaiming by allowing one’s identity to be subordinate to the Presence.
Ego is the hurdle. When there is less of self, the Divine fills up and takes over the space. What happens when God’s presence and power work in and through us, as we surrender the “dust” to the reality that is God in us, is beyond us. We can never fathom how God will use us. We simply must believe. Lord, help our unbelief.
May this Holy Week bring us deeper to the constant awareness of God in and within us, Emmanuel, Jesus the Christ.
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Danilo S. Venida ([email protected]) is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and now a business consultant.