This is the second time the country is remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a period of lockdown. I struggle.
Holy Week is usually a time for hopeful reflections. As a Christian, I believe with all my heart that Jesus’ death and resurrection took all my sins upon Himself so that I could be freed from God’s judgment. I am freely given a new life – an abundant life.
I know I have every reason to be hopeful, because the Jesus I believe in is alive. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” says the Holy Scriptures. Hope, according to the Bible, is not wishful thinking, like saying, I hope COVID will go away, or I hope I don’t get sick. Our hope is pinned on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And that keeps me grounded.
But my struggle is real. I thought that this year would be much better. Why are we experiencing the strictest lockdown again? I can’t just close my eyes in prayer and pretend that I don’t see the hardships, the injustices, the inequalities that this pandemic has highlighted.
I want to be hopeful, but what is there to be hopeful about?
How can I bring comfort to a woman who has lost not only one but three members of her family, within a span of a few weeks due to COVID-19?
What advice can I give a young widow on how to raise her kids now that her husband has been killed in an encounter with the military? While she, like her husband, has been red-tagged?
I am angry that we have come to the point where a 73-year-old widow was refused confinement in a public hospital because she was sick with pneumonia and not COVID. I grieved when I learned that she had died the following day in her house.
How can I ask a medical frontliner who has not seen her family in weeks to remain hopeful, when I know that a mayor or an actor has been vaccinated ahead of her?
What about the 3.2 million Metro Manilans who are experiencing hunger? And the millions who have become unemployed? Last year there was “ayuda,” though scarce and unevenly distributed. Is there aid this time?
I think of Thomas, one of the disciples who refused to believe that Jesus had risen until he had seen Christ and touched His wounds. The Lord entertained his doubts and showed His pierced hands. Thomas then exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
Am I becoming like the doubting Thomas, who needs to see in order to believe? My struggle continues – until I hear Jesus’ painful struggle on the cross as he cries out loud, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Perhaps the grim events around us have made me think only of Good Friday – the day of lost hope, injustice, agony, death. But a friend shared with me a short but poignant sermon by SM Lockridge, and this has reminded me of the first Easter Sunday that has brought victory, life, joy – and hope.
“It’s Friday but Sunday’s A-Coming”
by SM Lockridge (An excerpt)
…And the Pharisees are celebrating,
That their scheming has been achieved.
But they don’t know, it’s only Friday…
He’s hanging on the cross.
Feeling forsaken by His Father.
Left alone and dying.
Can nobody save Him?
It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.
The earth trembles, the sky grows dark.
My King yields His spirit,
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered and Satan’s a-laughing.
Jesus is buried.
A soldier stands guard.
And a rock is rolled into place.
But it’s Friday. It’s only Friday…
Leonora Aquino-Gonzales used to work at the World Bank as a communications specialist. She is currently teaching at the College of Mass Communications, University of the Philippines and contributes to OMF Literature, Inc, as a writer.