Friday, March 29, 2013


It's 6:15 a.m. as I fill my teapot with fresh water for my morning cup of tea.  It's strangely quiet outside, at a time when the streets are usually alive with Pandesol (bread) sellers, recycle collectors, students on their way to class, vendors shouting their wares, jeepneys  and motorcycles rumbling by.  Not today.  It's Good Friday, and everything in the city has come to a grinding halt.  Malls will be closed, jeepneys will be parked, schools are out and the streets are quiet.

A main street at midday - all but deserted.
Until I hear the notes of a song, a recorded tune that seems to be getting closer.  I curl up on our couch nursing my cup of tea with a view of the street outside our gate so I can watch what is happening.  That's when the silent masses of people begin to pass our home.  It's a strange sight, but I know immediately what it is.  It's the local barangay (neighborhood) observation of the Stations of the Cross.  In the midst of the crowd slowly passes a small van with a loudspeaker positioned on top, playing a song, then a mini exhortation about the Cross of Christ, followed by numberless rounds of 'Hail Mary's.
Filing past our house
 And the people keep coming.  There must be over 200 people, silently filing past, heads bowed in devotion.  I sit here in pajamas in the already stifling morning air, wondering about my own level of devotion, and feeling some shame.  After all, I'm not out there, remembering His death, or setting apart a special day to observe His suffering.

But there's a fundamental difference between us.  These men and women sincerely believe that today, Good Friday, is a day when Christ is literally dead.  God's back is turned today, and there is no deity left to protect or defend mortal man.  They march in silent fear.

Some of these people may go so far today as to 'crucify' themselves as penance for their sin.  They will use anesthesia to numb their hands before actually being nailed to a cross.  These same men and women take communion with fear and trembling, believing that in the blessing of the bread, it actually becomes the literal body of Christ, and the cup becomes His literal blood as He is sacrificed once again for their sin.

But this cannot be the same Christ who suffered on Calvary.
...just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  
so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, 
will appear a second time, 
not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:27-28

Our Savior died once, satisfying God's wrath against sin.  Could we imply that Jesus' death wasn't enough?  Do we need to take on the pain of crucifixion too as penance?  Or should we insist that Christ suffer again and again, believing that what He did 2000 years ago could not fully atone for our sin?

For Christ also suffered once for sins,
 the righteous for the unrighteous, 
that he might bring us to God.
1 Peter 3:18 
 Jesus Himself said, "It is finished!"  And He sat down next to His Father.  
His sacrifice is done for all time. 
So on this Good Friday morning, I can rest here on our couch with my cup of tea, 
because He completely finished the work. 

 Thanks be to God!

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