Keep Our Faith Amid Sufferings

Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD March 28, 2021 / Palm Sunday

There’s an amusing fable that when Jesus made his triumphal entry to Jerusalem, he rode on a lowly donkey.

As the Jews waved palm branches and shouted “Hosanna,” the donkey thought the crowd’s wild adulations were for him. So, he kept nodding his head and warmly smiling.

Aren’t we much like that donkey at times? When we have talents, wealth, lofty titles and positions, pride gets into our head. We think we owe it all to ourselves, totally forgetful of the Giver.

Passion And Death Of Jesus

Today, Palm Sunday, we start to commemorate the passion (extreme suffering) and death of the Lord with an eye to his glorious Resurrection.

Jesus Christ said that the “Son of Man is going up to Jerusalem and would suffer grievously and be put to death” (Mk 8,31). Peter recoiled at the thought, remonstrating, “Heaven forbid, Lord. This must never happen to you.”

Jesus exploded with a violence rarely seen of him: “Get out of my sight, you Satan! You are a stumbling block to my path.”

Suffering, A Mystery To Be Lived

Jesus is telling us that in this world called “valley of tears,” sufferings are part and parcel of life. In the words of the existentialist philosopher, “Suffering is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.” Suffering is not just physical but also mental, emotional, spiritual–the frustrations, the loneliness, the remorse of conscience, boredom, depression. A businessman says ruefully to his friend, “I’m a walking economy now.” How come?” asks his friend. “My hairline is in recession, my stomach is in state of inflation; both of these are putting me in depression.”

Suffering: Passage to Eternal Life

Is God some kind of sadist seeing with some kind of twisted pleasure people in pain? Think of the countless global victims of Covid-19 pandemic or unjust killings and violence like summary executions or devastation of lives and properties from natural calamities.

Jesus showed concern with the problem of human suffering in all its forms. This is shown when he went about curing people who were afflicted with various diseases, feeding the hungry, protecting his disciples from drowning by calming the winds and waves, and raising the dead to life. It’s noteworthy, however, that he never abolished suffering and death altogether.

Jesus is telling us from his own sufferings, “If I don’t take away all your sufferings, it is not because I cannot do it or because I don’t love you enough. But buried within the human nature is the reality that the PASSAGE to eternal life is through suffering and death… What I ask of you is to follow me and have faith in me.”

Help Ourselves

The Christian attitude does not mean, however, that we just accept our fate or grossly disregard what’s needed to remedy our problems. For example, presently we are battling the deadly spread of new Covid-19 variants. We’ve been praying fervently but lately we have been lax in following the health protocols like the wearing of face masks, face shields, and observing social distancing. The result is the unprecedented surge of new cases.

Moreover, in this difficult time, we need to be diligent, practical, and resourceful. This is what a charter airline pilot, Glenndaile Samonte, did. When many employees had been severely hit by the “no work, no pay” company policy, he looked around for work. There was a need for a delivery rider of food to customers. Glenn didn’t think twice. “I accepted the job because it would help me in my daily expenses.” Glenn found a way to push forward—from an airline pilot to a motor bike food deliverer. What’s needed in this hard time, he quipped, is not “arte kundi diskarte.”

As the worn-out dictum puts it, “God helps those who help themselves”; in local parlance, “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.”

Faith Is Crucial

There’s one important thing to remember. Faith in Christ is crucial. If we don’t have faith in him, if we do not believe in his teachings, we will be like an atheist. When he dies, he is smartly dressed in the coffin but nowhere to go.

“If we suffer and die with Christ, then we will also rise in his glorious Resurrection” (Romans 6,8).

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‘7 LAST WORDS’. The SVD Mission Communications Foundation will telecast online the “7 Last Words” on Good Friday, April 2 at 12noon-3 p.m. over Skycable (former ABS-CBN) Channel 8, Cygnal Cable 22, A2Z Channel 11. Also on YouTube Channels: Kapamilya Online Live and ABS-CBN Entertainment. Facebook Page—Kapamilya Online Live.

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SVD PREACHERS: Fr. Alfred Rollon Jr., Fr. Louie Punzalan, Fr. Crispin B. Vejano, Fr. Pablito Tagura, Fr. Anthony Ynzon, Fr. Jerome Marquez, Abp. Socrates Villegas, OP, DD.

LAY SHARERS: Mayor Isko Moreno, Jeffrey Sioson, Iza Calzado, Angelo Michael Lobrin, Lulu Perele, Julius-Tintin Bersola-Babao. Family Prayers: Jose-Beth Perez, Mauricio-Victoria Roque, Renato- Menchie dela Cruz, Albert-Freda Gemora, Steve-Mila Tamayo, Pete-Regina dela Cruz, Doddee-Joan Hermogeno.

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Performers: Vocalismo Choral Group, Prof. Ramon Acoymo, St. Paul’s Sisters Choir, Fatima V. Soriano. Executive producer: Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD. Host: Clarissa Belmonte Reyes.

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