By Joe Torres
Give to the poor instead of inflicting pain on oneself, the country’s Catholic bishops told Filipinos, many of whom are known to subject themselves to extreme forms of penance like crucifixion and flagellation during Holy Week.
“If you want to truly make a good Holy Week, love much, love more, give to the poor,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops’ conference.
“This pilgrimage to the poor will add to the holiness of our times,” said Archbishop Villegas during Palm Sunday observance on March 20.
Palm Sunday marks the biblical story of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem.
“What makes these days holy? Not self-inflicted pain. Not publicized pious devotion. Not daydreaming meditation,” said Archbishop Villegas.
“What makes this week holy is the immeasurable, unequaled love that Christ poured into these days,” he added.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila called on the faithful “to bring back mercy” during the observance of Holy Week.
“Where is compassion? Where is mercy?” Cardinal Tagle said in his Palm Sunday homily at Manila Cathedral.
The prelate said “trust in God” was the “secret of [Jesus’] silent mercy and compassion even to an enemy.”
Tagle said the problem in the world today is people “rely on money, weapon, private armies, connections.”
“If we continue to rely on these things, the more we become less merciful. You will use all of that even if it will hurt other people.”
He said the call to being merciful is very significant not only during Holy Week but also during the observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.