Holy Week commemorates passion of our Lord
ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces
The Philippine Star 04/05/2007
The Philippines is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia, the outcome of many years of Spanish occupation of the islands. Christianity in our country began in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan came to our shores and planted the Cross, the symbol of Christianity. Since then, the natives have practiced different religious beliefs inherently Christian in origin.
The observance of Holy Week, for example, has been a time-honored practice for Filipinos. Today being Holy Thursday, it is the anniversary of the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Sacrament of the Priesthood. But since we were young, we have always associated Holy Thursday with only two things — visita iglesia and the washing of the feet. During visita iglesia, we visit seven churches and that is because of the popular belief that the number seven stood for the seven sacraments — baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, orders, matrimony and anointing of the sick. Others maintained it represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that everyone received during baptism and retained by all who were in a state of grace. They were wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Whatever the number represented, the custom was to visit seven churches.
For us however, the most touching ritual in all of Holy Week is the washing of the feet. Feet washing is a religious rite observed as an ordinance by several Christian denominations. Christian denominations that observe feet washing do so on the basis of what they believe is the example and command of Jesus as stated in John 13:1-15; wherein, before the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His 12 apostles. As Jesus said, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
Indeed. As what Jesus has shown by washing the feet of His disciples, nothing can be authentically holy without humility. And that is what the washing of the feet truly captures — humility.
Blessed Holy Days & Happy Easter.