April 8, 2009

Good Friday : The Mother of All Boxing

Good Friday
John 18:1 – 19:42 : “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.”

Good Friday is the summit of the Holy Week celebration. In my six years as priest, I observed that churches overflow with people on Palm Sunday and the Easter Vigil celebrations. The churches during these times are vibrant and alive! But there is a notable decrease in attendance when Maundy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies come. Is it because of the summer heat? Or is it because we are unconsciously not at ease with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies? We are not Good Friday Christians. We welcome happiness and love victories in our life; but not pain, suffering and death.

But we’ve never learned. We are living in a reality that life is not a bed of roses and parties. Life is not only celebrations. It is not only victories nor health, nor of plenty. It has its thorns also. We are surrounded by the realities of pain and evil. Poverty is around us. People whom we know and close to us are dying of cancer. There is no peace in Mindanao. Families are in the brink of separation. My Tita Pilar is in coma after an accident. And we have our own battle within us against evil, temptations, hopelessness and unbelief.

But we don’t want to face our own darkness. We are always running away from our cross because we don’t want suffering. We don’t want to die. But the irony of life is – we are formed by our cross. We are transformed by facing our own crosses. Jesus’ final transfiguration did happen when people saw him hanging on the cross (in that seemingly defeated situation) and they exclaimed. “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54). He gained the real admiration from the Jews and non-believers, not in his triumphant entrance to Jerusalem, not in His resurrection on Easter…but when he was there on the cross …helplessly hanging and dying. They saw Jesus and declared Him as the “Son of God” in that in the seemingly humiliating and defeated situation.

As followers of Jesus, we need to face courageously our own crosses in life. What makes us genuine Christians is the cross; and not on our own moments of Palm Sunday or Easter experiences. There is no resurrection without the cross. There is no Easter joy without faithfully embracing our own Good Fridays. There’s no fullness of life without dying from ourselves in the name of love.

Sandwiches are named from their “palaman.” We called it tuna sandwich because there’s tuna in between the two slices of bread. It is what’s in between the two slices of bread that defines the sandwich.

Christians are defined not by our Palm Sunday and Easter moments, but by the cross we are carrying. It is our lived-moments of Holy Thursdays and Good Fridays that defines us.


“He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a Cross between two thieves. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Such was His human life—He rises from the dead. I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.” -James C. Hefley

- Fr. Willy M. Samson,SJ
Pasobolong Chapel / Talisayan Chapel
April 10, 2009

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