Our second pandemic holy week is upon us, emphasizing the amount of time we have spent in various states of lockdown or quarantine. It’s been more than a year since we did the only thing we can do against the coronavirus, which is to follow our government’s advice to obey its health protocols, no matter how strict or absurd.
If you come to think of it, we have already spent an entire year in Holy Week mode. This is not the modern version of holy week where we take advantage of the ultra-long weekend to go out of town or travel to exotic locales to explore, kick back, relax and ironically forget about God. The holy-week-year we have been stuck in, like Groundhog Day, is the more traditional variety that includes sacrifice, self-denial, isolation, and contemplation.
This is our sorrowful mystery. We have already spent more than 365 days of the agony in the garden. The face shield is our crown of thorns. The never ending curfews is the scourging at the pillar. We, the resilient Filipino people, have been carrying the cross of government incompetence for more than a year while witnessing every day the crucifixion and death of everything that is good and decent in this country.
This is why Holy Week 2021 feels like just another week for most of us. We have been suffering, sacrificing, abstaining, soul-searching in isolation for an entire year now, with no end in sight.Our Holy-Week-Year sacrifices continue because we have been left to our own devices and that is all we can do for the common good. As good believers, we welcome the suffering with open arms and wait with hope for the miracle of good governance and competent leadership.
Unfortunately for the Philippines, that miracle did not arrive on Easter Sunday of 2020 and based on our current situation right now, there is nothing to hope for on Easter Sunday of 2021. We can hear mass and reflect upon inspirational messages of hope during that Sunday, maybe have an intimate gathering with the members of our tiny bubbles, but for our country that has been in Holy-Week-Year mode for more than a year, there is no Easter Sunday in sight for this special brand of Holy Week. All we can count on for this year is the Easter Bunny to give out chocolates. Salvation isn’t on the agenda yet.
Our Easter will take a little while longer. For now, we have no choice but to spend a little more time in hell and hopefully, when the time is right, we can purge our demons and maybe even achieve herd immunity. Both will probably need a miracle to happen but for those who believe that suffering has a purpose, this indefinite stint in eternal suffering might just be worth something in the grand scheme of things. Maybe after we have paid the price, God will finally have pity on us and save us from our past mistakes.
If we get tired of waiting for divine intervention, we can save ourselves by taking matters into our own hands. But if we can easily endure one Holy-Week-Year, what’s another couple of years for the famously resilient and faithful Filipino?
Holy Week has an ending. It starts on Palm Sunday and ends Easter Sunday. Even if you consider Lent, that’s only 40 days. We abstain, fast, pray and generally try to be better versions of ourselves during that time.
On the other hand, Holy-Week-Year, as far as we have seen, is indefinite. It will not end unless we choose to end it and for that to happen, we might have to take action in the same way that Jesus Christ decided to go through his passion and death. For some, the bare minimum of wearing face mask, hand washing and social distancing is enough suffering already. For others, the path to resurrection might involve finding new and better leaders to lead the country out of this suffering and getting those people in power when the time comes. Or we can just pray our way out of this.*