MARCH DOES NOT come to me as it did in childhood when, at the end of schooldays, it heralded all gaiety. Those lighthearted yearnings no longer play in me like a child cavorting in a summer shower.
I lost my father in March. It has been three years and the grief no longer shocks like the peeling of skin from flesh; but the sensation of that separation remains and, I suspect, it will be part of me till the end of my days.
The end of March also ushers in the commemoration of Christ’s passion. It is a time when many in the Philippines, “the only (nominally) Christian nation in Asia,” sober up and reflect on what it means to be sinners in need of a Savior.
For Christians who take it seriously, it is a somber time, a period of quietude and self-evaluation, perhaps sadness and even fear. For three days each year, the weight of Christ’s suffering, the reality of sin and its consequences, confront them and lead to a renewed understanding of humanity’s utter helplessness without God.
This truth is heightened by the bleakness of Good Friday, when Christ’s death is preeminent and all stands still. Yesterday, on the hilltop where I live, there was almost total silence. It was not a peaceful quiet; on Good Friday there is always a keening – an inaudible but perceptible lament for the lamb who perished on the cross.
Christ died on Friday yet it is called “good.” This is perhaps the first irony I ever learned. I understand now that it was “good” because Christ’s death bought life for us all. It is a present He purchased with His blood, if we are humble enough and willing to claim it. It is a love gift.
His death was the price and penalty for all our sins. This gift of life – an eternity with Him! – can never be earned nor repaid. It is free. We must only admit our sinfulness and repent of it; we must only realize that we need Him.
This turns my thoughts to the growing helplessness in the nation today. Like many Filipinos, I have been following the campaigns of the top contenders. Like many Filipinos, I have no choice for president yet.
I was running errands in downtown Antipolo the other day when my conversation with a storeowner turned from merchandise to politics.
“Sino po ang iboboto niyo?” I asked.
“Ay, hindi ko pa alam. Baka si Mar o si Grace, pero hindi pa ako sigurado. E kung wala e di wala na lang, di na ko boboto para sa presidente.”
Enlightening. I am glad that she is discerning enough not to vote for “the evil she knows” or the “lesser evil.” Evil is evil whether we know it or not, regardless of degree. I too am opting not to vote if I find that only “evil” is available to me. I would rather not elect a president than validate the unscrupulous.
I am hearing in this lack of choice the knell for a moribund political system. In the people’s tendency to abstain, I sense their clamor for its demise and the rebirth of righteousness in this country. I join their call.
With all believers in Christ, I will rejoice on Easter morn that He is risen. The grave could not keep Him; He conquered death itself. By resurrecting He gives hope to all who place their trust in Him. For me, that trust extends beyond my personal concerns to affairs of state and to global issues. I believe that my risen Lord is sovereign over all.
Though March fills my mind with images of death and grief, I am comforted because Easter brings with it hope and new life. We may be passing through a very dark night, but be calm: dawn will rise.
Let us pray for our country and ask for the wisdom to vote wisely. And let us trust the One who hears our pleas, for He has risen and overcome. Christ the Sovereign Lord is risen. He is risen indeed!
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.