Reflections on the Sinulog and the COVID crisis

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 17, 2021 - 12:00am

The people of Cebu and from all over, who miss the festivities of the Sinulog, and the whole Christendom who find religious festivals as occasions for celebration instead of prayers and contemplations, should find deeper meaning on what’s happening to our country today. God has a message and we should listen and understand.

These are difficult times and, really we shouldn’t be gyrating to festive music and getting carried away by the frenzy of cymbals and gongs. We need to be on our bended knees asking for forgiveness for our greed, lust, and gluttony. We should be silently contemplating the many excesses man has done to other men, and on what humanity has done to the environment. The Lord is speaking to us in typhoons, thunderstorms, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Someone greater than all of us is reminding the whole world we have exceeded the bounds in various ways and on countless occasions. We have hurt many by our acts and omissions.

Our failure to do the usual things under the old normal is a palpable sign that up there above there is a command for us to mend our ways, renew our lives, and to refocus on what really matters most. The COVID crisis is another version of the Great Flood when Noah's ark was the saving vessel for humanity to survive. We need to find our own ark and be renewed by the compelling message to clean up our mess in the environment, in our relationships in the country, the community, the workplace, the family, and in our own lives. Perhaps, there’s a power beyond us all, sending a message to refocus our prayers and worship from the noise and glitter, and to go back to simplicity and silence, contemplation, and deep reflection.

The Sinulog had been with us for many decades. It generated good business, great tourism and excellent public relations for politicians, celebrities, and religious leaders. In terms of sensational popularity, crowd size, and business revenues, it surpassed the Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang, Pintados, Kadayawan, and Moriones. The Sinulog has become a phenomenal event known all over the world. A number of businessmen and political figures have benefitted from these celebrations; a religious celebration transformed into a secular business event. Then came COVID which became its greatest disruptor, making us realize that all good things must pause if not stop for good. It didn’t just happen. It has a purpose.

My reflection leads me to think that we, Cebuanos, and all Sinulog followers are being called to refocus our lives from the temporal to the eternal. We’re being reminded that there’s more invisible meaning to life than the visible. We’re being told that being deep in silent contemplation is much better than noisy and showy forms of celebrations. What matters most is the purity in our hearts much more than the colorful costumes we wear. We may be sounding killjoy or puritanical but indeed, it dawns on me that the more effective way of worshipping and manifesting our faith is not necessarily with the noise and movement we do publicly, but in the deep silence in reflection and retrospections.

When Moses came down from Sinai to see the chosen people of God focusing their worships on symbols and ostentatious noises, he rebuked them and called on the Jews to go back to the Father who doesn’t need all those. They needed to renew their lives and go back to the one true and living God. Perhaps, COVID is another Moses reminding humanity about what really matters most.

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