Editorial: Yardstick for the Holy Week

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma’s Lenten message is about our practice of treating the Holy

Week as a vacation and not as a way to reflect on the trials of Jesus Christ.

“Holy Week is not really a vacation week. Choose another time to go to the beach. Semana Santa is not a time to swim or spend vacation,” he said.


While Palma is correct, he didn’t mention one reality. The Holy Week includes a Thursday and a Friday that are red-letter days in the calendar. Government usually declares the next day, Saturday, a holiday.

The break is an invitation for Catholics who are tied to their work for most days of the year to loosen up. Meaning that, resisting the lure of vacationing during the Holy Week is always a challenge to the faithful, thus the need for the constant reminder.

But even if the Catholic faithful spend time attending Holy Week rituals, that is no assurance that they are “reflecting on the trials of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis spoke about this in March, During Ash Wednesday. He asked the faithful to use Lent as a time to really “get closer to the Lord.” The effort, he said, should be genuine and not tinged with hypocrisy.

Here’s how he put it:

“What makes people hypocrites? They disguise themselves…as good people: they make themselves up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen—they believe they are more righteous than others, they despise others.

‘Man,’ they say, ‘I’m very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family is this, I’m that… I’ve learned... I know this bishop, this Cardinal, this priest... I am this or that...’ They think they are better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says, ‘No, not that.’”

So what is the non-hypocritical way to be closer to God? The Pope illustrated it this way: The “sign that we are with Jesus Christ is this: caring for the brothers and sisters, the poorest, the sick, as the Lord teaches us.”

Holy Week is therefore, according to the Pope, not only about rituals but more so about how we live our lives. “‘Redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.’ Take care of the neighbor: the sick, the poor, the needy, the ignorant. This is the yardstick.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 17, 2014.


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