by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
HE IS RISEN.
These three words changed my life. When I was young, I would remember celebrating Holy Week in Sorsogon, Philippines. Our family would go down to Bicol from Baguio City to spend time with our grandparents.
Holy Week was a fun time for us because we would swim in the beach, visit family members, watch basketball games of our favorite provincial league and join a parade of the statues of the different so-called saints. My very young mind thought this was the meaning of Holy Week. Until I became sixteen. When I was in high school, some classmates of mine kept inviting me to a gathering which they called ‘Youth Service.’
I turned them down many times because I knew it’s a meeting where they would raise their hands and sing ‘Halleluiah, Praise the Lord.’ I didn’t like it.
I was content with my own religious beliefs, fulfilling our ritual of attending church on a Sunday even if I didn’t understand the homily. I thought I was a good girl and that was enough. I knew about Jesus and that was enough, or so I thought.
One Friday, for some reason, I gave in to their persistent invitation. I just stayed at the back and just observed. I listened intently to the youth pastor. As he talked about Jesus, the person whom I thought I knew, I felt my heart being touched and I remember tears rolling down my eyes. That night became the turning point of my life.
I accepted Him to be the Lord and Savior of my life. It turned out to be the greatest decision I ever made in my life. I came home crying bringing with me message that Jesus Christ died for my sins so I can be saved and He rose again because death had no hold on Him. I came to know who Jesus really is and not just about Him.
The Jesus I knew in my mind became the Jesus who took my heart. From then on, I experienced the kind of freedom and joy I never thought existed. I had a revelation of what grace and mercy mean. My life was never the same. But it wasn’t an overnight transformation of heart. From that day on until I went to the University of the Philippines in Diliman, I surrounded myself with people who walked with me in my newfound faith.
They helped me understand the decision I made. I opened my life to people who can speak encouragement, hope, even correction and rebuke.
It was an everyday decision to die to my selfish desires and choose to follow and live my life for Christ. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it definitely is worth it. I never turned back to my old life. Looking at my life now and remembering that fateful day, I couldn’t help but be grateful and be in tears for such a display of love. The God who created the universe would call a nobody like me His child.
I now know the significance of the Holy Week. It’s not just a time for families to gather and have fun, it’s not about performing rituals or uttering memorized prayers, it’s remembering and worshiping God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross so we can all be saved. It’s celebrating the victory that Christ has won because He didn’t remain on the cross, the tomb was empty. He rose again. HE IS RISEN. In light of what the world is facing right now, with COVID-19 hitting way too close to everyone’s home and numbers turning into names, these three words bring hope.
His stripes bring healing, His blood brings protection, His rising bring victory, His Name brings comfort and peace. Jesus is alive and He reigns over all the earth. As we celebrate the Holy Week, let us remember who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us just like what this song by Maverick City encourages us to do.
“The bread Your body, the wine Your blood, sweet communion. You set a table for us, the crucified Jesus. No greater love than the bread Your body, than the wine Your blood. Oh, we will remember, Oh Jesus, Jesus our Savior. Oh, just to know You in Your suffering, just to get me closer than we’ve ever been. Oh, we will remember. The holes in Your hand, the wound in Your side, thirty-nine lashes brought me back to life. Before resurrection, there was a grave in hell, there was a battle, and my life was saved. Oh, we will remember, Oh Jesus. This is our Savior, look at Him. Look at Him, Our Christ Redeemer.”
HE IS RISEN. These three words changed my life forever. This is my testimony. It is my prayer they will change yours too.
Please Let The Coronavirus Go Away
Light and Joy
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan