“…but there are those nurses and doctors who, by the oath of their profession are fighting face to face with the unseen enemy not knowing whether or not they could return back to their families safely”
DAVAO CITY—WE are now in the peak of the season of Lent. This is a Christian tradition to commemorate the paschal mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Messiah. The season officially starts on Ash Wednesday where Christian Catholic faithful converge to their parishes to have their foreheads rubbed with a pinch of black ash made from the previous year’s consecrated palm leaves. With the ongoing pandemic this year, the church allows pouring part of the ash on the head rather than on the forehead to avoid physical contacts. It reminds us all and sundry that we are from this earth and someday, somehow, to earth we must return. It also speaks of humility and the need to care for others and the environment.
There is no better way to describe humility but by the instance of passion and death of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, on the cross. Was it not when he was humiliated in front of his own people during the mock trial in the sala of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and vetting him against common criminals? Was it not through being stripped of his torn garments from his wounded body? Was it not through the carrying of the cross on the path to Golgotha, the mountain of skull? Was it not through the crown of thorns on his head, or the lance that pierced through his side that flowed blood and water? Was it not through the cruel nails that were driven on his hands and feet, and through Jesus’ final death on the cross? We can only understand humility when we are being humiliated that way.
And great humility through unselfish service was the message of Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) during his Palm Sunday mass homily on April 5 at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the San Pedro Cathedral. Due to the imposition of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Enhanced Community Quarantine in the entire city, the said celebration of the Holy Eucharist was aired through live-stream in the internet via DXGN 89.9 Spirit FM-Davao. 20
He made the topic of “service to others” as center piece of his homily in the face of the grave threat to humanity posed by Covid-19 as exemplified by the sacrifices of the frontliners. He equated the sacrifices made by medical doctors, nurses, hospital staff, community health workers, police officers, social workers and those whose work is directly or indirectly related to the fight against Covid-19 as first steps of the Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross of Jesus to his death. They are those who leave the comforts of their homes, their families and forget their personal safety to perform their duties either inside hospitals and medical care facilities or outside the streets manning checkpoints to maintain physical distancing and enforce laws and orders promulgated by local medical and civil authorities. “We may worry about not going outside due to the stay-at-home policy of the government but there are those nurses and doctors who, by the oath of their profession are fighting face to face with the unseen enemy not knowing whether or not they could return back to their families safely,” Valle said. The prelate may have referred to the hundreds doctors and health professionals, including priests and laypeople in Italy who died while attending the sick and infected.