Palm Sunday: Balancing worship with mystery


MOMENTS WITH CHRIST This painting of Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is part of Manuel Baldemor’s exhibit at the Atrium of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, which runs till March 31. It employs a technique that consists of letting the paint drop from the brush as the artist guides it. “In similar fashion, I can give homage and meditate on the drops of blood Christ shed for our sins,” Baldemor says.

The euphoria won’t last.

Like the adulation of the crowds during the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the euphoria over the election of Pope Francis might not last once he poses the “unsettling questions” raised against the Church on sexual morality and other “difficult” issues confronting modern society, a Church historian said yesterday.

Reflecting on the commemoration of Palm Sunday, Fr. Emil Quilatan, OAR, said the Catholic faithful would have to delve deeper into how they would respond to the Pope’s traditional teachings against artificial contraception, divorce, same-sex unions and other “unpopular” Church teachings after the adulation over his election fades away.

“The euphoria over the election of the new Pope will not last as we focus on the problems facing us today because we are always called to go back to our fidelity to God. We are called to be faithful,” Quilatan said in an interview.

“The Pope will be making statements that will be uncomfortable to us. How will we accept these teachings? He will pose unsettling questions and we should reflect on how we would respond,” he added.

Pope Francis has won worldwide praise for his simplicity and humility after he was elected the 266th successor of St. Peter and Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers.

Many admire him for breaking Vatican protocols and downplaying the trappings of power that have accumulated around the papacy in its evolution into an absolute monarchy over the centuries.

But Quilatan pointed out that Jesus also won praises when he made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem—which the Church commemorates today, Palm Sunday—but this would later lead into his crucifixion.

“They were singing praises during His entry into Jerusalem. But what happened after that? They crucified Him,” he said.

“The Church is not called to be popular. We, as Christians, are not called to be successful in this world. We are called to be faithful to God,” he added.

Prophetic role of Church

Quilatan noted that while Francis was known for his simple lifestyle when he was still archbishop of Buenos Aires—he ditched his chauffeured car to travel by bus or train to work and moved from the archbishop’s palace to a simple apartment where he cooked his own food—the Pope has held on to the Church’s more traditional teachings.

“He has maintained the Church’s teachings against artificial contraception, divorce and same sex marriage because these are not in accordance with the word of God,” Quilatan said.

He admitted that these teachings would not go down well as society becomes more secularized but added that the Church has a “prophetic role” to remind its flock.

“How should we react? How should we respond when the Pope reminds us that artificial contraception is not the solution to poverty?” Quilatan said.

“The truth hurts. It is unsettling, and it will make us uncomfortable but the Church has a prophetic role and should speak about these matters,” he added.

Quilatan also said Catholics should not just leave it up to the Pope to implement reforms in the Church.

“We are also called to be protagonists in our Church and not act as if we are mere bystanders since we are all called to help create the kingdom of God here on earth,” he said.

Individual conversion

Quilatan said the faithful could participate through individual conversion to holiness or actually living the teachings of the Gospels.

“As protagonists, we are called to make that fundamental option—are we for God or against God? We make that choice when we are faced by everyday situations. Are we going to cheat or not? Are we going to steal or not? Are we going to kill or not?” he said.

“Is Jesus just the Lord of my pocket? Some of  us pray only when we receive the goods that we need,” he added.

‘Dynamic orthodoxy’

Quilatan said Pope Francis should not be described as a “progressive” but someone who exemplifies “dynamic orthodoxy.”

“He is not a progressive. What he is showing us is dynamic orthodoxy. He not only preaches the word of God but also actually applies it in his own life,” Quilatan said.

He also downplayed fears of traditionalists in the Church that Francis might do away with Pope Benedict XVI’s focus on restoring the “sense of the sacred” in how the Mass is celebrated.

“The liturgy is always in reform. Pope Francis is balancing worship with mystery. A religion without mystery is not a religion at all,” Quilatan said.

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  • disqus_8frqDOjh5L

    There are a couple of news articles about him in New York Times, newspapers in Argentina about his progressive liberal attitude. To name some …a bishop colleague of his during a conference to counter same sex marriage said that he was surprise when Francis suggested he was open to same sex union instead gay marriage, he was also in favor of civil union, he had pics of him washing the foot of a woman during Holy Thursday when it should be a man( like the Apostles) & being prayed over by Protestant ministers while kneeling. He was also in favor of relaxing the celibacy rule. He didn’t fight for the rights of detainees in Argentina unlike Cardinal Sin & Bishop Romero. Now he is also being sued for child traffiking of children of detainees.

  • Flexiblechair

    Truly there is a Prophet here in Inquirer’s comment section….I commend you in asserting your biblical verses, but in the end of the day you will go back to your earthly labor and work for money to feed yourself and your family and to survive, now tell me at this moment would those verses and phrases satisfy your earthly needs such as paying your bills,paying your house mortgage,paying transport fare,paying your internet subsrciption, I guess not. lets face it having a faith keeps a man in perspective on his life it keeps him going within his inner self, but saying one’s belief is wrong is disrespect. all of this religion debate is endless but at the end of the day if you can recollect within yourself we still work for a ONE GOD, which is MONEY , for heaven’s sake! how can you afford to type to a computer and post your verses on the Internet GOD gave it to you!? RESPECT that’s all there is to it.

    • GKLer

      If you are referring to me. Believe it or not, I have no job, no work, no employment, no business that pays me any money. I am unable to find work. I am a beggar right now for 5 years. Yet praise God who has been generous to see to it I do not go hungry, have clothes on my back, and I have a roof over my head, and a working computer and DSL, and I still have my health.

      And I am no prophet. I am just a sinner. The words of a servant are not his own. I am a mere student of the Bible. The words belong to God who should be praised.

      • Flexiblechair

        Quick reaction there… very hard to believe specially in times like these, typing away into a computer with a “DSL” internet service wow just wow! you must be living with your parents!, its very easy to deny the truth within the context of my posted comment and gave you a concrete idea to have a come back, well you say what you are I do respect that, coercing your faith into others is DISRESPECT, I hope you realize that. and at the end of the day you’ll go back to your shelter waiting for someone to give you earthly needs in order to survive. Wow just Wow!

      • GKLer

        Should it matter where I live? But no, I don’t live with my parents. I am an old person. I live in another city. See, everything that came out of you is a false accusation.

        Posting lies, false information and false accusations – that I think is called disrespect.

        Who is coercing people here? I am merely pointing out the relevant verse in your very own Bible. I am not pointing a gun at anyone here, or tying them to a chair, or forcing a reply from anyone. No one needs to reply to me has that occurred to you? No one is being forced to even read my post at all. So where did I show disrespect?

        I think you don’t like what the Bible says. I certainly didn’t write it, but you can always complain to the True Author.

        Here refer to this:

        2 Timothy 3:16-17
        16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

      • Flexiblechair

        Wow just Wow! a little feisty aren’t we?, ha! false accusation, I think better look at yourself first, who would believe on your situation that everything you have is free? and oh you are depending on others to give you what you need to survive, that makes you a free loader I might say and oh please your whimsical bible verses will not make anybody think twice and doesn’t make you a bible savvy, because at the end of the day you are still a mere mortal needing for earthly needs, who knows you might be a call center agent just trolling in comment section or a lonely pastor, yep! coercing! we all have faiths and we don’t need anybody posting away bible verse just to make us think twice. RESPECT.
        oh and just a thought here I’am not a Bible Savvy as you…
        1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

      • GKLer

        Feisty? I stated only facts. If you don’t like the facts I stated, it is only you that has the problem with it, not the facts, isn’t that correct?

        Have I falsely accused you of anything? I was right wasn’t I – when I said “you don’t like what the Bible says”? You called it whimsical twice and tell me “we don’t need anybody posting verses”. Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite when you quote a verse?

        How many false accusations have you hurled at me so far? Now you even think I am working at a call center, which is an honest living, and now you call me a freeloader. What business do you have with my personal life? Do you want an interview? I told you I don’t have a job and yes, I am a freeloader for 5 years now since no one wants to hire me. Do you believe me now when I said I was a beggar? Do you have anything against freeloaders or beggars?

        You don’t know me, yet you obviously judge me and continue to do so..

        You can believe what you want to believe. No one is forcing or coercing you to even read my posts or reply to me. So what you have said is clearly false.

        And I promise you, nothing you say will stop me and others from continuing the work tasked by Christ to all Christians to spread the gospel throughout the world.

        Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

        Do you speak for everyone when you say “we don’t need anybody posting bible verses”? Or do you speak for yourself? Let them speak for themselves. So good luck with your problem. I have no issues with you at all.

        Good bye now.

      • Flexiblechair

        Wow just Wow! easy there cowboy! Fact is Fact what I said is true you are a free loader after all, and what makes you think that I’m a hypocrite? google does wonders on Bible verses I just made you taste your own medicine in quoting bible verses. don’t put your tower too high God might strike a lightning on it.

    • jpeter262

      The god of this evil world, Satan will agree with you. But the Bible, the Word of the True God, have a different view:

      – – -“” For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim 6:10)

      We should live by every word of God:

      – – – “”It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ (Matt 4:4)

      – – – “” So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut 8:3)

      We have to work six days to feed our family:

      – – – “”‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. (Deut 5:12-14)

      The Gospel need to be preached in all the world and we need to do our part at God’s will:

      – – – “”And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)

      • Flexiblechair

        Ah!this one wants to get owned… at the end of the day you too will go back to your earthly needs to survive, please spare me the biblical verses/phrases, do you think the computer you’re typing in and the internet service that you have is given by GOD? I don’t think so, please! you quoted it already you still have work for your earthly needs, Don’t be so righteous and if you’re thinking that these verses will make people think twice you are greatly mistaken, we have different faiths and that keeps us in perspective, we still acknowledge we are still mortals and needs to survive in ways of common good, we don’t need self righteous people using biblical verse just to prove their point, because at the end of the day we all know we still have to work for something to survive this world and keep living until we die.

      • jpeter262

        I don’t say I am right. It is all written in the Bible, the mind of the True God in writing. The authors of the books were inspired by God. Be like the Berean. Please go get your Bible and check it for yourself — everything is made through Jesus Christ. We have those things because God allowed us to have it.

        – – – “”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John1:1-3)

        – – – “”He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (John 1:10)

        – – – “”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

        Jesus Christ said regarding the god of this evil world:

        – – – “” He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But
        because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; (John 8:44-47)

        God commanded us to work six days to supply our needs and
        rest one day to honour Him. Let us live by every words of God.

        You said below in respond to GKKer:

        1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense . . . .

      • Flexiblechair

        Happy Easter to you too!, yeah I quoted only to make a point and I did not wave it like I’m a prophet or a chosen one just like you. Faith keeps us in perspective ,no one should tell us what to do what to read and what to understand its your self reflections and how you treat others is what really matters.

      • jpeter262

        My good friend, I wish I could great you with H E but I could not.

        1. Easter is a pagan celebration honouring Estar, the god of sexuality. To think about it — what is bunny and Easter egg got to do with the death of our Lord Jesus Christ?

        2. Jesus Christ died on Wednesday (before annual Sabbath, Feast of Unleaven Bread) not Friday, and risen on Saturday not Sunday — to prove that He is the messiah. Three days and three nights like that of prophet Jonah.

        I cannot claim to be a prophet nor a chosen one. I just tried to do what is required of us — to build a temple of God before the coming of Jesus Christ.

        It is our choice to do what is right for us. Adam made a choice, all the people of Noah’s time except him, and also that of Sodom and Gomorrah except Lot. They all choose the wrong one.

        Let us treat others like what is written – – Love others as you love yourself.

        We really need to consider what is more important, fear of loosing money or fear of loosing God.

        I hope I don’t bother much your valuable time. Thanks

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