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It was a sea of barefooted people – men, women, elderly, and children – who paraded the centuries-old image of the dark-skinned Christ, the Black Nazarene, in Sunday’s procession that drew from 1 to 7 million devotees (the figures are varied though).

The procession, which started early morning of January 9,  was not finished until near midnight – and the crowd was still at their thickest.

These people offer that one day in a year to thank the image for prayers granted, to ask for miracles, to answer their fervent wishes.

Never mind the sweltering heat, the bodily odor emanating from that sea of faithfuls, the incidents of petty thieves or medical responses to dizziness or exhaustion or other incidents that required immediate, medical attention.  Never mind if they get crushed as long as they could just throw their white hankies or towels to the patron, as rubbing or kissing or touching the image is said to be miraculous. Never mind those just for the show of faith.

Faith or fanaticism?

This time, I agree with Archibishop Oscar Cruz – the crowd in Sunday’s religious feast is a proof that a growing number of Filipinos are seeking divine intervention to end their miseries. To put an end to their poverty. To seek panacea.

Yes, we are a Christian nation. But non-religious, progressive thinkers blame our religious faith or fanatical devotion to this country’s worsening state of poverty.

No one will ever understand why our fellow Filipinos are hugely devoted to the Black Nazarene. They maybe are devout Catholics. They maybe are fanatical followers. What I will never understand though is why there are people who always say, “the Lord will provide” or “may God have mercy on us” when in fact, we can do better – even in our simplest, littlest way – to uplift ourselves from the sorry state we’re into.

As the rule of Saint Benedict says, ora et labora – pray and work. You pray and you work your smartest and hardest and the Lord will provide. Don’t leave it all to Him. Better, don’t just be a religious person in a day and ask the Lord to grant your lifetime’s worth of prayers.

Ora et labora – pray and work. And the Black Nazarene might give you the miracle you’re praying.


Written by Lynda C. Corpuz

January 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm

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