Last year was a holier Holy Week for me. My family went with three Indonesian Divine Word (SVD) missionaries to Pangasinan, Baguio, and Benguet province for our “Visita Iglesia.” The Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter experiences, as I have shared in my previous blog, were meaningful spiritually.
This year’s Holy Week commemoration was less complicated as we decided to take advantage of, and just enjoy, the most peaceful and quite period in Metro Manila. We decided to just stay in the city.
Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is celebrated by Christian Catholics all over the world to commemorate the “triumphant” entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem on the occasion of an important Jewish feast – the Passover. The Jews at that time generally regarded Christ as their most likely savior against the tyranny of imperial Rome. Needless to say, the Passover is celebrated by the Jews as a symbol of the end of the slavery of the Jewish race by the Egyptians centuries before.
The Jews were disappointed however as Jesus saw himself as a different kind of savior – a savior of souls. The Hosannas that greeted his entry to Jerusalem, became angry shouts of “Crucify…” a few days later. He was executed in the most ignominous manner. Such a paradox…
But similar paradoxes still happen in this time and age. Five years ago in the afternoon April 1, 2007 just before a Palm Sunday mass was about to be celebrated in the parish church at Lubuagan, Kalinga, a young Divine Word (SVD) missionary priest from Indonesia was shot and killed in cold blood. The killer was a local thug and the motive was unclear. Nobody was willing to talk. The story was that the priest was just trying to ask the murderer not to carry his firearm within the church compound and that got the ire of the latter.
I, my wife, and my then 10 year old daughter Bernadette were with our Indonesian priests friends when the priest’s body arrived in the Christ the King Seminary Compound in E. Rodriguez, Quezon City for few days of wake. He was later on buried in the cemetery within the Christ the King compound. His family members from Indonesia did not have the opportunity to pay him their last respect.
The paradox this time around is that Fr. Franciskus Madhu, SVD, came from a country that has minority Christian population. He went to die as a young missionary in a country that prides itself as the biggest Christian country in the Far East. Our Indonesian friends still cannot understand why a young innocent priest can be killed just like that, I never understood myself how that can happen here in my own country – a “Christian Country.” It was one bad joke on April Fools Day. It remains to be a joke up to this day – The case is still unsolved.
Last April 1, 2012 our Indonesian friends celebrated Palm Sunday mass by commemorating Fr. Fransikus’ death on its 5th anniversary. We joined them in the mass and later, n the rosary and prayers at the cemetery. That started my Holy Week observance this year
As a Christian Filipino, I still have fits of discomfort whenever I remember what happened to Fr. Franciskus. He could have been one of those playing badminton with us here in Manila and he would have remained alive. He could have just stayed in Indonesia and he would have probably been also still alive. He should not have been a victim of murderer who, up to this day, is still roaming around. I still feel embarrassed in front of my Indonesian friends that my “Christian” country can allow the murder of an innocent priest to happen, or, at least, allow the case to remain unsolved.
This Holy Week, and future Holy Weeks, should serve as self-assessment sessions for every Christian Filipino to evaluate their being “Christians.” I am doing that now.