Many, many years ago when Holy Week was around the corner, it would start with a celebratory Palm Sunday followed by five somber days. On Good Friday, the reading of the Passion and the Crucifixion of Jesus would be aired over the radio, and the pasyon would be recited or sung publicly as a dirge in barrio chapels.
On Holy Monday, the radio stations would also start playing classical music instead of the latest popular hits, and TV stations would re-broadcast movies about Bible stories. Holy Week thus became a week of reflection and meditation. It became a week of “sacrifice”, which to young people then meant five days of “giving up fun and suffering pain”. But in its original meaning, “to sacrifice” did not mean “pain” but it meant “to make sacred”, from the Latin words, sacrum facere.
Then a drastic change came. Later on, again for many years, these annual Holy Week rituals were replaced by Holy Week trips to Baguio, to a beach or mountain resort, or even a week long journey to another country. Life went on its usual noisy way. We thus lost our way, for many years, to a meaningful journey’s end of “sacrifice” or “making sacred”.
The original meaning of sacrifice (or “to make sacred”) should be the guiding light to what we do each day, that Holy Week used to remind us of. Our daily actions should “be made sacred” especially if they are done in service to others. Being a teacher makes it easier to “make sacred” what we do each day in our classrooms. Being a frontline medical worker now is really “making sacred” what one does in hospitals and clinics.
So the virus’s disruption to our normal lives forced us to think again about what is essential—that again, we have to do sacrum facere and bless the Earth with our sacred actions.
Holy Week also reminds us about the “passion” of Jesus. We also need to re-interpret the word, “passion” in relation to Jesus. When we describe Jesus’s life and mission, we use “passion” to mean the searing pain that he underwent on his way to Golgotha. The movie, Passion of the Christ reinforced this meaning. But “passion”, as we all know it, is doing what we love to do. “Follow your passion” is to “follow your heart.” Why can’t we not use this word in relation to what Jesus loved to do during his life on earth? He spent three years doing his passion, what He loved to do—and His passion was to teach us about God’s love for us. His passion was to show us the way, the truth, and the life. His passion was to make us help bring the Kingdom of God on this earth. And this Kingdom was to be a place of justice, love, and peace. His passion was to do what God ordained Him to do, which is what our own passion should also be: doing what God has ordained us to do.
As we spend the days ahead in journeying to the universe within us, let us offer our prayers that the light of God re-ignite our passion for making our life a journey of meaningful daily sacrifices, of sacrum facere (actions made sacred) so that we will experience the “Spirit of Light and Wonder” in all that we do. And then we wake up re-born as though it were Easter morning once again.
Amb. Laura Q. Del Rosario, M.A., M.Ed.