Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Reflecting on Christ's Passion

Ritche T. Salgado - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The past year was a year of discovery, healing, and renewal for me; a rebirth as I joined the seminary and answered God's call. It was no joke as it entailed sacrifices on my part and on the Order who embraced me. But then these sacrifices were nothing as compared to what Jesus Christ suffered when he offered himself for our sins.


One of my realizations was that Christ suffered for me and wants me to follow him by allowing myself to suffer for others, if I truly want to become a true witness of God. Suffer, not necessarily in terms of allowing myself to go through physical pain for no father could allow his child to be in pain, but suffer in terms of denying myself, my wants, my desires, for the sake of the greater good.

A good example of sacrifice comes in the form of prayer. One of the most ancient prayer traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is the "Via Crucis" or the Stations of the Cross, reflecting and meditating on the passion and suffering of Christ on his way to his death on the cross in Calvary.

Over the years, the "Via Crucis" has taken different faces, with the stations changing depending on the needs of the times. One of the most recent revisions is the scripture-based "Via Crucis," which many churches in the country today encourage the faithful to use.

Join me as we reflect on the cross of Jesus in light of the sufferings of the little people - the marginalized, the oppressed, those whose needs have been neglected by the main society.


First Station: The Last Supper

Bible Meditation: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

My dearest Jesus, on the night you were betrayed you offered yourself to your disciples, leaving behind a memory of celebration, of family, and of giving. You showed your disciples that to love is to serve and to serve is to be the lowest of all; to wash the feet of all those you love; and then to feed them with your very life.

Lord, allow me to learn from these examples. I thank you, Lord, for our dearest farmers who, with their sweat and blood, till the land to provide food on our table, but Lord in their misery, in their lowliness, who will serve them Lord? Grant me the heart of a servant Lord, willing to offer the whole self to uplift those most deprived.


Second Station: Agony in


Bible Meditation: Luke 22:39-45

My dearest Jesus, in the humanity that you embraced, you showed that even one who understands and fully accepts his mission has moments of doubt, but because of your love for the Father and of humanity, you surrendered to your Father's will whole heartedly.

Strengthen me Lord and allow me to accept your Father's will in my life. Like the lowly farmers whose life is graced with their full dependence on you. Allow me Lord the courage to cast away my doubts, my worries, and the "what ifs" of my life. Make me a child, Lord, whose dependence on the Father is strengthened by his trust on the strength of the Father's love. Nothing is more concrete in the show of God's love for me than the sacrifice He made in offering His most beloved son, you my dearest Lord, for me and for the whole world. Thank you, Lord.


Third Station: Jesus before the Sanhedrin

Bible Meditation: Mark 14:0-64, 15:1

My dearest Jesus, determined to fulfill your Father's will, with courage you faced the Sanhedrin, the people tasked by God to offer sacrifices to Him, as they prepare humanity's ultimate sacrifice - you. With courage and humility, you offered yourself to them. Grounded by your love for the Father and for us, you allowed them to bear false witness against you and to pass an unfair and unjust judgement. Lord, please help me imitate you, that with humility and with love, I would accept everything and anything that your chosen people has prepared for me, be they to my liking or not. Allow me to realize that whatever would come in my life, the Father's love for me is great and His ways are wonderful - something good is in store for me.



Fourth Station: Scourging and crowning with thorns

Bible Meditation: Matthew 27:22-30

Lord Jesus, you were tortured and mocked for my sins. Innocent as you are, you endured the pain and suffering, the humiliation, because you loved me so much. I say, "I love you, Lord" but why do I continue sinning? Why do I continue neglecting the needs of your most deprived people? Why can I not live my love for you? Is my love for you not as intense as should be, Father? My Jesus? Everyday modern prophets sacrifice their own life as greedy businessmen and politicians hold on to their riches and power. Many are tortured, many are killed - lowly farmers deprived of their own lands, innocent students and common people who can't bear the injustice of this world, priests and religious who've taken up the cross of the oppressed and the deprived, your children whose only desire is to create your promised kingdom on earth. The lives they offered, Lord. O my Jesus, make my love for you be true and grant me the courage to accept the beatings of this world, it that is what it takes to realize your kingdom here on earth.


Fifth Station: Jesus carries his cross

Bible Meditation: Matthew 27:31

My dearest loving Jesus, in silence you accepted your cross. In silence you endured the heavy burden on your shoulders, the painful wounds of your body, the soul-breaking whispers of desperation as the people you so love throw hurtful mockeries at you as you pass them by, or the body-breaking wrath of nature - whether the sun be giving out its blazing heat that day or the skies offering a deluge. In silence you suffered Lord. Just as in your days, the world is not devoid of crosses and that of the world, which cannot be isolated from ours - a troubled economy fueled by the greed of the few rich, discontent and misunderstandings because of our unwillingness to embrace the uniqueness of others or to accept their weakness. Please, Lord, allow me to accept my cross in silence and with all sincerity. Let not my cross become a show of false humility, but cushion it with sincerity and purity, with my love for you. True love for you. Deep love for you.


Seventh Station: Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

Bible Meditation: Mark 15:21

My Jesus, it must have been a relief for you when the soldiers had Simon carry your cross. Through Simon was forced to carry your cross, my sweetest Jesus, please, Lord, grant me the heart of compassion to help alleviate the crosses of others. Injustice, Lord, it's such a burden. Why are there people who take delight at causing sorrow to others? Despite these injustices, I am thankful, Lord, that there are still a few willing Simons who need not be forced to carry the cross of others. Make me like them, Lord. Allow me to help lighten the load of others especially the poor, the sick, the wretched, the forgotten. Let me be a relief to their burden, Lord, even in my own little ways - a smile, an ear, a word of comfort. Allow them to see you in my life, Lord. Let me be lost to myself that you may be found. Let there be no me, but only you.


Eighth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Bible Meditation: Luke 23:27

Mighty Jesus, grant me a sincere heart - one that would drive me to act and not just to talk. When the pious women of Jerusalem wept for you, you know that their tears were displaced, for they do not fully understand the cause of their grief. They may have loved you, they may have dreaded the thought of losing you, their great teacher, but what is the worth of this love? Will it merely be expressed by tears and regret? Would I have the heart to simply watch the news as people struggles to keep their homes as they are being driven out by rich people and their goons? Or the farmers as they are being taken advantaged of and their needs neglected by government? Would I choose to simply be a spectator, contented to simply speak my mind? Lord, grant me the heart to act, to do something, to effect change in an unjust world, even if that change be small and insignificant.


Ninth Station: Jesus is nailed to the cross

Bible Meditation: Luke 23:33-35

"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." My dearest, Lord Jesus, these were your wordsas you were hanging on the cross and after having suffered the agonizing pain of the nails piercing your hands and feet, the same nails which must have continued to cause you pain as the weight of your body pulled you down to the ground. Yet with all the suffering you went through, forgiveness is what you give to us. Even as we continue to cause you pain and suffering with every sin we commit, you still have the heart to forgive us. How you loved us, Lord. How you love us, Lord. But what do I give in return? More pain? More suffering for you as I disregard the needs of others, as I turn a blind eye on the suffering of our farmers, the oppressed, the orphans, the street children, the needy? As I cringe at the stench of the homeless and the sick?

Why do I give you so much pain, Lord? Please, Lord, give me a charitable and loving heart that would lead me to embrace the un-embraceable.


Tenth Station: The repentant thief

Bible Meditation: Luke 23:39-43

"Today you will be with me in paradise." O, Lord Jesus, such sweet words even in the direst circumstances. Such love, Lord, you have for me, for humanity. Please, Lord, make me worthy of this love. Give me a repentant heart, Lord, that would allow me to see the sorrow I am causing others, and grant me a forgiving heart, O Lord, that could see beyond my pains caused by others.

Make me worthy instrument, Lord, who is able to see beyond the pain-causing, sorrow-causing, misery-causing actions of others. Allow me to love those who hurt me, Lord, just as you loved me so much. Me, a sinner, an unworthy child who never fails to cause you pain everyday.

Let me not be an instrument of sorry, but make me into an instrument in giving a ray of hope to others. You are my hope, Lord, you are my lifeline. Make me an instrument for people to recognize this redeeming truth.


Eleventh Station: Mary and John at the foot of the cross

Bible Meditation: John 19:25-27

""Woman here is your son.... Here is your mother."

Just as the Father has entrusted man to care for his creation, you my dearest, Lord Jesus, has entrusted us to care for each other. For us to care for the widows, the orphans, the sick, the dying, the little ones - people who are suffering from the world's injustices.

Grant me a selfless heart, O Lord, one who's desire and will to serve others will always be burning. Please, Lord, help me that even though I am also in need, even if I myself have nothing, please, Lord, allow me to share the little that I have, not half-heartedly or out of conceit, but out of love and true concern. Let me live the trust that you've given me. Such privilege it is to serve, Lord.


Twelfth Station: Jesus dies on the cross

Bible Meditation: Luke 23:44-46

"It is finished."

Why do you have to die for me, Lord? I am not worthy of your sacrifice for I am a sinner and I continue to sin. I neglect the needs of your children, Lord, my brothers and sisters. Why then do you have to die for me, Lord?

I only have gratitude, Lord, but how can I live this gratitude? Make me worthy of your death, Lord. Strengthen my resolve to sin no more and to avoid sin. Soften my heart for my brothers and sisters in need and grant me the courage to act, to do something that would help alleviate their burdens, their pains, their sorrows. Make me worthy of your sacrifice, O Lord.


Thirteenth Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

Bible Meditation: Matthew 27:57-60

In the silence of your passing, Lord, were men who in silence loved you. Unable to bear your death and suffering, and the indignity done to you, they offered themselves to care for the body that you left, giving it a dignified burial. O, my Jesus, how much indignity have I caused you?

Help me, Lord, allow me to redeem myself for hiding at a time when you needed me the most, for not offering myself when your children, your brothers and sisters needed me. Please, Lord, allow me to redeem myself and help me, O Lord, to raise the dignity of the people whom society have forgotten - our farmers, yes, their work is dirty, no one wants them, and so their needs are forgotten. Why, Lord? But we need them. They give us our food, why then do we refuse them the dignity they deserve? Help me, Lord, to see everything for who they really are - your children, your brothers and sisters. My brothers and sisters.


Fourteenth Station: Jesus rises from death

Bible Meditation: Matthew 6:1

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Worthy is the lamb that was slain!

Thank you, Lord, for dying for us! Thank you, Lord for rising for us!

You have conquered life and you have conquered death.

I pray, Lord Jesus, that as you died for my sins, allow me to share in your suffering and death. Allow me to die from my sins especially that of disregarding the needs of others.

In your rising, Lord, you have given us hope that we can be born again, be renewed in your love. Help me be this new person, Lord, who is willing to carry the cross of others out of love for you, my dear Lord.

Renew me, Lord. Revive me, Lord. Make me worthy of your love.


Closing Prayer

O, most loving heavenly Father, through the pains, sorrow, and death of your only son, my Lord Jesus Christ, you have redeemed me from my sins. And through his resurrection you gave me new life, new hope. My dearest Father, help me, O God, that as I continue in this journey of life, may Christ's passion be my guide, my compass that would bring me to my destination. And to borrow the words of your shepherd, Pope Francis, Lord, please do send the Holy Spirit to increase my concern and responsibility for human destitution so that I can become merciful and act with mercy. Amen.


Editor Note: The Writer will be starting his noviciate with the Order of Carmelites of the Ancient Observance (O.Carm) in June. He asks of our prayers.

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