It’s Maundy Thursday. Everything has ground to a halt in the Philippines. The big city is empty and all the streets are practically devoid of traffic. People have hied off to some coasts to refresh their tired bodies or to some churches to renew their flagging spirits. They have gone away to some resort to relax or to some retreat to reflect. Others are off to some beaches to enjoy the sun or to some basilicas to encounter the Son. And many will cap the night with the traditional visita de iglesias, paying homage to the Blessed Sacrament.
It is the just another ordinary day in secular America. People are at work; children are in school; and it is business as usual for most people. Some will find a church later in the evening to attend the Holy Thursday rites, commemorating the Last Supper.
But in the face of these contrasting scenarios, I am thinking – again – of our interconnectedness to one another and to the rest of creation. A sandstorm in the desert lifts up billions of tone of dust into the atmosphere; then torrential rains dump this into some dried up plain, causing an explosion of microscopic life forms which attract flamingoes to make it their nesting grounds. Millions of monarch butterflies migrate south of the border when flowers are in full bloom, adding color and beauty to people’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos. People marking the Holy Week to acknowledge somehow that they is more to life that just the ordinary and routine we easily get accustomed to.
Life on earth has undergone at least five known mass extinction events. And yet, somehow life persists. Life, once it has come into being, never dies. The energy that sustains life is also eternal. It may change shape and form; but matter is lasting and indestructible. The light, the simplest form of energy is likewise never ending. There there is light, there is never darkness. These are truths proven and accepted by science.
These are the truths we celebrate during the Holy Week. Easter is about our life being eternal. Death is an illusion for we go on living forever. Love, the light that energizes life, will likewise eventually conquer evil. Just as light dispels the darkness, love will triumph over evil and hatred. The celebration of Love – the new commandment – on Maundy Thursday is both cosmic and deeply personal for we all participate in the goodness and love that brought life and existence into our universe and being.