Front-liners’ death ‘resembles’ passion of Christ
MANILA, Philippines — The death of so many front-liners, including health workers, “resembles” the passion of Christ and his commitment to his mission, Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes said, describing his thoughts on Holy Week amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“It has been a most painful Lent,” Reyes said.
“As we thank Jesus for his love expressed through the ultimate sacrifice of his life, we shed a tear and say thank you as well to the front-liners who have gone back to the Father,” he added.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines permanent committee on public affairs, also lauded front-liners, especially health practitioners, who “are basically offering their lives for the sake of others.”
“They are living examples of Jesus’ words, ‘No greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend,’” Secillano said.The outbreak has left many people concerned about their mortality, said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
It is only normal for people to fear death, he said in the Mass he celebrated at Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome, Italy, on Palm Sunday. “But they would more readily face it if they completed their mission in life as Jesus did during his passion on the cross.”
He added: “This year’s commemoration of Holy Week asks of us, ‘How do you face your death?’ Does it even cross our minds?”
“This pandemic is practically affecting all peoples in the world and no one seems to be exempted. And for some of us, it’s coming closer,” the former archbishop of Manila said, adding that some people think their suffering was a punishment from heaven.
“When we suffer, maybe the invitation is how do we turn suffering—if it is in the fulfillment of God’s will—into a gift of self. Whether we deserve it or not, it is secondary,” Tagle said.
“Many people die alone whether in the hospital or at home, without their loved ones beside them … Our faith reminds us that Jesus had the same experience. And Jesus definitely is, was and will be with every person crossing to their Jerusalem. No one will cross alone, Jesus will be with them,” the cardinal said.
With most rituals “greatly reduced or canceled,” this Holy Week will “definitely be memorable,” Tagle said.
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