Fr. Jigs Rosalinda

The event of the “first day of the week,” early morning on the day of the resurrection, took place as the Lord himself had foretold. Rising from the dead was not at all a predictable story whose outcome was long foregone. It required the tenacity of faith in something that was counter intuitive. Jesus rose from the dead as he said he would, but the disciplines did not comprehend it yet (cf John 20: 9). The news of Jesus’ rising from the sleep of death created more incredulity than acceptance—for a good reason. Peter and the beloved disciple had to run and see the tomb (cf John 20: 1). In their minds, this could not be a presumption that was so easy to make; that they needed to see it for themselves was a matter for authentic believing.

What was the heart of the Good News? What is the essence of our Christian belief in the Easter proclamation? The Gospel of John gives preeminence to Peter as the primary witness of the resurrection. The beloved disciple allowed Peter to enter the tomb first (cf John 20:8). Seeing the empty tomb made both of them witnesses. Later on Peter proclaimed this faith saying, “(we are) witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10: 41). Christian faith in the resurrection is a gift handed down to us through their (Peter’s) witnessing of the event. We believe in Jesus’ conquest of death because of the proclamation of the apostles that started from their time up to ours.

The heart of this Easter proclamation took the world by surprise as the apostles were still reeling from the pain of Jesus’ death. The Good News came early, “while it was still dark,” when everyone was asleep and the world was utterly unprepared and unsuspicious. Like in everything, God has acted beyond human expectations. What a delight was the sudden burst of joy of Easter! And yet, one can never say that this was not as planned, as Scripture would have it, “he had to rise from the dead” (John 20: 9). Easter Sunday hints at both God’s ability to open this world to new and wonderful things, and His capacity to fulfill the promise of raising us to the fullness of new life. Because of this, the resurrection of Christ brings our hope to a full circle, our love to the realm that is beyond the reach of death, and our faith to the glorious life now and in the future.


Fr. Jigs Rosalinda

One of the most meaningful celebrations of Holy Week is the Easter Vigil liturgy. We all love the rituals of the Lucernarium (Service of Light—Part One), leading us from darkness to light, from sadness to joy; the large and heavy Easter Candle, and the Easter Proclamation (Exultet). All these speak to us of how wonderful the mystery that is before us is—Christ passed from death to life! This passage recalls the triumph of Christ over sin and death. When we pray and hope to attain the “festivities of unending splendor" (Blessing of Fire), we believe that the Lord's victory shall one day be ours, too!

The lineup of readings in the Easter Vigil liturgy narrates to us the history of human salvation. From Creation Story to Exodus, from Abraham and the founding of God’s Chosen People, to the Prophecies of old, the Epistles and the Gospel. We heard how God cut in, and broke into humanity’s story and made it a tale of saving us so that our history is seen within the actions of the Savior-God. We are creatures of a loving God, who redeems us in spite of our persistent sinning and mindless turning away. The covenant with the children of Israel is spoken of, naturally, because to save us God made us His partners, through Abraham, Moses and all the prophets—the people God had first chosen so that through them God would gather everyone to Himself. God chose a nation, through whom everyone shall be made God’s Chosen People. The recalling (Liturgy of the Word—Part Two) of the Old Testament shall find its culmination in Jesus. He is the new and definitive covenant between God and humanity. He is the perfect Mediator being both God and Man—the Father’s only and final Word.

The Gospel tells the story of Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles, who was the first to hear of Jesus’ rising from death. She announced to them that Jesus wished to see them in Galilee (cf Mark 16: 7)—back to where they all started their ministry. Galilee was not just any place. It was the locus of the ministry of Jesus, the first to hear the proclamation of the Good News, and witness of the miracles. This time, Jesus vowed to “go back” there. Did he regress to past memories in the hopeless claiming of what had been? Was this going back a sort of retreat because they folded up in Jerusalem where the real center of power was? For years, I have often thought of Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene, and asked myself these same questions. One particular word has stood out, “renewal”. Jesus made a conscious choice to meet the disciples in the place that was dear to all of them, in order to refresh their memories which had been shattered by his death, and to renew their friendship and love. Peter and the disciples surely could make use of this, after their witless betrayal and brazencowardice. This thought is consistent with the lesson of these lengthy readings we go through tonight. God is renewing his friendship with fallen humanity. We see a great light rise in the midst of the shadows. We are washed clean of the ancient stain of original sin in the font of baptism which we renew today (Renewal of Baptismal Promises—Part Three), with firm conviction that the light of Christ will surely scatter our darkest and deepest nights, and his resurrection, our senseless deaths.

Good Friday

Fr. Jigs Rosalinda

The liturgical rituals on Good Friday (Passion of the Lord) always, in my experience, coincide with the most scorching of days of summer. Traditionally, parishes hold the “Siete Palabras” (the Seven Last Words) from about noon time. At its culmination, the Service of the Word and the Adoration of the Cross get on their way at 3 o’clock in the afternoon—right in time for the death of Jesus on the Cross. (This is perfectly timed by liturgists who say that timing is essential). This is followed by a procession of images at around 5pm, when the sun is still visibly up. But we brave through all these, when given a chance, since the highlight of the Holy Week can very well be that which is most difficult to do. The more difficult they come, the better we feel we have immersed ourselves into the mystery of the Lord’s suffering!

We say the “beauty” of the Holy Week is its climax—Good Friday! Besides Easter Sunday, there is nothing that compares with the intricate decorations of our Santo Entiero and Mater Dolorosa. The first reading, however, challenges our idea of a “beautiful” celebration. Isaiah describes the suffering Servant of Yahweh (Ebed Yahweh, Ish Koboth) thus, “so marred was his look beyond human semblance,” (Isa. 52: 14b); “there wasno stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him” (Isa. 53: 2b). He alluded perfectly to Jesus on the Cross, mocked and struck repeatedly (cf John 19:3), bloodied and left hanging on the cross until he bled dry. Can this be the beauty that enthralled us believers in this liturgical commemoration?

The Gospel gives us a postscript, a point for reflection, after the Lord expired (literally, “breathed his last”). It says, “They will look upon him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37). Something in this man on the Cross deserved our gaze. He endured to the end, while stricken and smitten by God. He was silent when harshly treated (cf Isa. 53: 4ff) . He was really (like) the lamb led to the slaughter (Isa. 53: 7). That Jesus endured sufferings and remained steadfast in faith and trust in God, speaks so much of an inner beauty, call it power, or even grace from within. Unshaken to his core, even when surrounded by violence, can only be described in the words of Carlo Cardinal Martini as “the beauty that saves”. Jesus preached on the Cross that there was none more beautiful than the hardest of sufferings.

Holy Thursday

Fr. Jigs Rosalinda

Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This day marks the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Both flow from the same act of Jesus on the eve of his Passion. Jesus made his very own the Jewish Paschal Meal (see: First Reading—Exodus 11: 1-8, 11-14) shared with his disciples when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22: 19b). The breaking of bread and the blessing of the saving cup immortalize the one sacrifice on the Cross, when Christ himself became the very lamb that was offered. Because of this, every celebration of the Holy Eucharist takes us back to the Upper Room and further still, to Mt. Calvary where the crucifixion took place. “For as often as you (we) eat this bread and drink this cup, you (we) proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (See Second Reading—1 Cor. 11: 26). Truly all Masses are our firsthand experiences of standing beneath the Cross of the Lord who loves us to the end (cf John 13: 1b), but most especially this one.
The Gospel narrates the account of the washing of the feet on the eve of the Passover. Jesus knew that his hour, that is, his own Passover, had come to pass from this world to the Father (John 13:1a). This statement sets the stage for what was going to unfold in the drama of our redemption. In an utter act of humility, he began to wash the feet of his disciples. He washes our feet too, every time we congregate to commemorate this event. As the Lord washed our feet, we ought to do the same to one another (cf John 13: 15). It is not surprising, then, that today in all cathedrals around the world (if and when allowed) priests renew their commitment to the service of the Lord’s flock—by washing the feet of the weary, the broken and the infringed. Furthermore, the echo to love one another with the kind and depth of the love of the Lord for us is heard as a mandate (thus, “maundy,” an Old English word for command ). We were given the order to love and to serve, because we were loved as His own and we were served like He was our slave and we his masters. As Jesus said, “As I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13: 15).