Monday, March 29, 2010

What Lent Really Means By James U. Sy Jr.

Published in the March 31, 2010 issue of the Negros Daily Bulletin p.10

Rev. Fr. Mario Sobrejuanite, SSP, (left) with James U. Sy Jr.

It’s Holy Week again. For most of us who work hard to earn a living, it means at least two days of rest. For some, it’s a time to go to Boracay or any of the other beautiful resorts scattered all over the Philippine archipelago. But do we, as Christians who live in the only Catholic nation in Asia, ask ourselves what is the real meaning and essence of the Holy Week? Lent is the best time to ponder on this thought.

For me, th inspiration to reconsider and contemplate came early on last Sunday, March 28, 2010, while I was watching the TV Healing Mass of the River of Living Water Catholic Community broadcasted over at Studio 23. It was my girlfriend who first introduced me to this TV mass, which is especially intended for people who can not leave their homes because of illness or some other disabilities.
The primary celebrant of the TV mass is Iloilo native Rev. Fr. Mario Sobrejuanite of the Society of St. Paul (SSP). There were also times when other priests conducted the mass. Last year, the mass showed the biggest gathering of religious leaders from all over the Philippines, celebrating mass and praying together for the betterment of our society and nation. The River of Living Water Healing Mass is held every Sunday at the SM Chapel, 5th Level of the SM Mega Mall in Mandaluyong City.

The gospel for that particular Sunday, which happened to be Palm Sunday, was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This fact has always been taught in Religious Studies in school but we seem to forget rather easily.

They showed a very beautiful but sad video clip about The Train Man, a story of a bridge master. A bridge master is one who controls mechanically the bridge rail by which the train passes on. This bridge master has a son, a little boy, who loves to watch trains and the people who travel in it. The people who ride the train were quite varied. There were those who were lonely, selfish, addicted, confused, etc.

One day, the bridge master raised the bridge. His son was nearby fishing when the boy saw that the train was fast approaching. He shouted to his father and started running towards the bridge. In the boy’s haste, he fell down on the lower part of the bridge where both sides of the bridge are connected with the pull of a lever.

The father panicked. The train was already near. He had two choices, to save his son and let all the passengers of the train die or to pull down the lever and save the passengers but crash his son’s small body under the reconnecting bridge in the process. With much hesitation, the father pulled down the lever. He ran to where the body of his son lay lifeless. As the train passed by, its passengers were never aware of the second life given them by the sacrifice of the son’s life.

The short video clip ends with the father crying in great pain, carrying the lifeless body of his little boy. I just couldn’t contain myself and I burst in tears.

The passengers in the train represent all of us sinners. We are indifferent and don’t care so long as we can go on with our own lives. We tend to think only of where we want to go, as much as the passengers look forward towards their destination, and almost all except for one noticing the grieving father.

The boy who was sacrificed by the father symbolized Jesus Christ. He saved us all but we tend to look away and watch at other things, ignoring the sacrifice He made for us to be reborn.

Fr. Sobrejuanite was right when he stressed that Christ’s sacrifice for us should be the center of our Holy Week. In our busy life where we work hard to earn for our family we often neglect this.

Words could just do so much. Nothing compares to watching the clip. The clip was really effective in embedding into the hearts of the viewers the real essence of the Holy Week. It is for us to be grateful to God for saving us all inspite of our sins and imperfection and to always strive to live the way He wanted us to. The first step in doing so is to accept him as one’s personal savior.

I highly encourage everyone to watch the River of Living Water Catholic Community TV Healing Mass every Sunday at Studio 23. God’s word will inspire you and enrich your life.