Apr. 15, 2023 11:22 AM
Selected staff of Quiapo Church for the sharing of their stories in line with the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on the cross with its corresponding priests for reflections in this year’s Siete Palabras 2023 (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
At exactly noon, the Seven Last Words, or the Siete Palabras were read and reflected in accordance with the biblical accounts on the seven last words uttered by Jesus while he was hanging on the cross. At the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, seven selected church staffers of the church shared their respective testimonies based on the reflections given by the guest priests.
Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, Parochial Vicar, leads the introduction of Siete Palabras 2023 (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The first part was the reflection of by Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang, Parochial Vicar of the Quiapo Church. After reading the opening gospel according to Matthew 27:33-39, he gave a short introduction inviting everyone to listen and understand the fullest extent of God’s love for us through the seven last words of Jesus Christ as his passage of final teachings and prayers to his Father for the last six hours before he died in fulfillment of his mission to save the humankind from death.
Rev. Fr. Howard John Tarrayo (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The first word, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” was reflected upon by Rev. Fr. Howard John Tarrayo. In his sharing, he posed a question: ‘Have you learned to forgive? or have you tried forgiving at all?‘ ‘What is forgiveness?‘. In examining these inquiries, he explained how Jesus demonstrated the true meaning of forgiveness by praying for his executioners despite all the torturous and wicked actions against him without lifting a finger or even fighting back in revenge. With that, the takeaway of this forgiveness is about bravery because it is difficult to do so. Hence, a person who knows how to forgive knows how to love. It is God who is full of love. Thus, he continues to love and forgive us despite our repetitive mistakes, sins, and faults. Hopefully, we will learn to forgive ourselves, too, in that process. From the Formation Ministry, Ms. Leony Orallo courageously opened her greatest struggles of forgiving herself when she once thought of attempting to abort her baby. However, with the help of her loved ones, including her family, husband, and friends, eventually, she was determined to forgive herself and embrace her present life of having a happy family through the grace of God. No matter how difficult, it is important to ask for forgiveness for our faults and those who have hurt us.
Rev. Fr. Leo Angelo S. Ignacio (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The second word, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” Rev. Fr. Leo Angelo S. Ignacio illustrated that the kind of paradise is the type wherein one will realize and recognize God’s unending mercy and immeasurable love like one of the two crucified thieves, who was promised by Jesus the Paradise of Heaven as he repented and recognized Jesus as his true Savior.Mr. Gian Carlos Cea of the Finance Department shared how he relates to that remorseful criminal by asking for forgiveness from the Lord for all the imperfections and flaws manifested throughout his relationships with his former and present wife, with whom the latter still has no child. Especially to his parents for all the support given to him until he was able to finish college with a degree in Psychology despite the fact that he already became a father at an early age. Moreover, he encourages us to ask the Lord for guidance in all our daily struggles and failures. From this, paradise will be waiting for us full of happiness and strength.
Rev. Fr. Faio Edmerson T. Quinto, OSJ (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The third word, “Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” as mediated by Rev. Fr. Faio Edmerson T. Quinto, OSJ. In his reflection, he gives light on how this word consoles the wounded heart of Mother Mary as she witnesses the horrors of the passion and death of her beloved Son on the cross. That word serves as means of entrusting her with the care that is much needed to fill in the void space left in her heart, especially after his son’s passing. As the Mother Mary, who had endured all sacrifices in accompanying Jesus in fulfilling his salvation works, Mr. Rei Uman of the I.T. Department inspires us to love our own mothers and be strong in our relationship with Mother Mary and Jesus, our Savior himself. Just as how his relationship goes with his mother, who remains by his side supporting him as he finished his college not only as a working student but also as a father with children at the age of twenty-four (24). From this story, a mother’s love is indeed incomparable and boundless no matter what will be of her children in the future, just as the kind of exemplary love exhibited by our Mother Mary to her Son Jesus Christ from his birth to death.
Rev. Fr. Paul H. Gungon, Attached Priest (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The fourth word, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“, as pondered by Rev. Fr. Paul Enrique H. Gungon, talks about the spiritual separation from God. We often doubt God’s works for us, especially when experiencing all kinds of trials, sufferings and hardships. Yet, there is the continuous call to believe in Him because He is with us wherever we go and whatever the situation makes us become. There may be pain and sorrow in our hearts, but God never ceases his love and compassion for us, especially in desperate situations. Ms. Shirley Parale of the Records Department wants shared her life-changing narratives from juggling work and school. Although she had finished schooling with a two-year course in Medical Secretary, having a family does not suffice to leading a good life. At one point in her life, she had to choose to become an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Dubai. However, she could afford to be far away from her family and loved ones. Then the pandemic struck, wherein they had to struggle to meet both ends. What escalated her mounting problems was her biggest heartbreak when she learned that her daughter would soon to be a mom also at that time at the age of eighteen. She had questioned why God seemed to ignore her family’s plight with all these issues. Yet, she continues to pray that one day, all their difficulties and challenges will be heard and resolved through faith and trust in the Lord’s plans for her and her family.
Rev. Fr. Angelo Paolo Asprer, SSP (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
For the fifth word, “I Thirst“, Rev. Fr. Angelo Paolo Asprer, SSP describes this word in two ways: (1) The context of the word ‘thirst’ refers to a longing for God by Jesus in his human self. (2) The ‘thirst’ is the Lord’s yearning for the people who have turned their backs on him and sinned against his teachings and examples. In his insight, the phrase “I Thirst” means that God continues searching for us and bridging back towards him; to tear down all divisions of all kinds that separate us from him. Mr. Meldrig Costuna, Parish Youth Ministry (PYM) Coordinator, shared that he is also thirsty for the type of life that he used to have led on – being a stage theater actor and being a church servant as early as grade two at school. However, everything changed when the pandemic happened, which completely changed his life. As a present staff at Quiapo Church, he feels he can no longer recognize himself as brought about by the systemic changes the pandemic brought. Since his aunt just died and his father who is now a dialysis patience, he is thankful that his current job at least alleviates the situation. However, he continues to desire what he really wants to do with his life as the search for it progresses.
Rev. Fr. Robin Custodio, SSS (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
On the sixth word, “It is finished”, Rev. Fr. Robin Custodio, SSS elaborates this phrase as to the proclamation made by Jesus that he had finally fulfilled his mission – the ultimate plan and aspiration of his Father to redeem mankind from the consequences of death and original sin. Looking back during the Lenten period, the centrality of the theme is always on the submission of Jesus to the will of his Father. That is why he was sent to deliver the good news of salvation by paying for the price with his own life on the cross. That is a choice he had made in fulfilling the will of the Father. May this word, be also part of our prayers as means of declaring that we have accomplished the plans for us by our Lord with gratitude. This was the same feeling experienced by Ms. Catherine Jarder, a registered social worker at Social Service and Development Ministry (SSDM). She recounted how she had passed her board exam after taking it the same year she had finished school became a fulfilling lifetime achievement. That journey involved obstacles as she had come to face the fact of being pregnant during her college years, that made her an object of a disappointment for her parents, who had big dreams for her. Through the scholarship of which, she had failed to maintain her grades at that time. Yet, it was the support of her husband that got her into her present feat in the field of social services. Upon the recommendation of one of her professors to try applying to Quiapo Church, she risked doing so despite having thoughts about the nature of church work. To sum up, she considers this attainment as fulfilled plan for her by God. Hence, the mission accomplished.
Rev. Fr. Freddie Dizon, MSP (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
For the final word, “Father into your hands, I commend my spirit“, Rev. Fr. Freddie Dizon, MSP, states that this does not spell the total end, but rather the new beginning as the dawn of new hope is about to rise through the Risen Lord’s promise of eternal life. As death is inevitable for everyone, life on earth is transitory because it comes from God, therefore, it will go back to Him. Only God knows and is in control of our entire existence, such as in the case of Fr. Dizon, who had a near-death experience after being diagnosed with appendicitis. From this happening, he advises that we should always keep our faith that God will never leave us alone. Ms. Merry Joy Rapada, Rector’s Secretary, supports this in her testimony that surrendering everything to God means letting Him be in the center of our lives. As her story went tracing her Dumagat roots, her journey of faith, as she had encountered the Nazareno during 2012 or 2013, paved the way to overcome trials related to bullying and discrimination because of her indigenous origin. Through receiving opportunities and blessings pertaining to her educational achievement. Last year, her major breakthrough of passing the LET (Licensure Exam for Teachers) was proof that surrendering everything to God will lead to healing all pain and brokenness felt.
– Kidanzac A. Tallada | EIAM & ADRM