The cuaresma, that inheritance from our Spanish past, speaks of forty days of fasting in anticipation of logical end of the mystery of suffering, death, and resurrection.
It is a powerful narrative, this, as it imbued the spirit of the revolutionary struggle of the peoples of the Philippines, seizing the trope by stripping the Christian story of its myth and remaking a new myth for national redemption.
This narrative is seen everywhere even as we speak of wars and destruction all over, this last one both man-made and by force majeure.
Today is the season of trials, in this land of Filipino immigrants, in the homeland, and in other places.
Today is the season of trials for so many people visited by climatic upheavals and social tornados.
Today is the season of suffering—and this suffering is untold, testing our limits, placing us in extraordinary circumstances and making us respond to these circumstances in extraordinary ways.
We are only obligated to do the ordinary things, ethicists tell us.
We are not obligated to do the extraordinary things by employing extraordinary means, the ethicists remind us too.
But in this time of want and human needing, the stories of our lives assume a new form and shape and force us to take stock of what we have got.
Indeed, it is true: life is a difficult text.
And this difficult text which is life itself finds itself in the challenges of the everyday in the Philippines come election time, in the United States as we reel from the consequences of recession with job losses all over the land, in so many parts of Africa where discord and disease and terrorism become the counter-narrative to human decency and self-respect, and in parts of Asia where poverty is not a foreign country.
The lesson of this narrative of the Lenten Season is quite simple: we see the parallelism in the mystery of hoping after going through a lot.
That after suffering comes grace in the recognition that somewhere, somewhere, something good can come out of this.
That after death comes with it the ultimate life lesson that everything comes to an end, that the finitude of human life need not end in the passing of an individual life but in the eternity of one’s good deeds.
That resurrection—that coming into life again—is hope in its bountiful eternity, in its fecund possibilities.
Comes the fasting: the need to go through the ceremonies of suffering and dying in its most literal and metaphorical form.
But comes the breaking of the fast as well in order to celebrate once more what life is all about, what hope is in real terms.
Resurrection—or that promise of one, indeed, is our key to hoping.
And with hope, we will find the energy to cope—and cope well.
We live in interesting because difficult times, but we shall overcome.
The song’s promise is true. This is grace coming full circle—and it is for us.
Editorial, FAO, March 2010