Friday, April 14, 2017

The Passion Play at Pampanga is a Magical Mystery Show

The following article is five years old but is definitely worth revisiting.
Anger and ridicule among netizens on Monday were targeted against women in skimpy shorts, believed to be tourists, posing with wooden crosses erected during the long Lenten break meant to remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. 
Both incidents, as confirmed by Domingo and Javier, happened on Good Friday in Angeles City, Pampanga, which, for years has been the site of various re-enactment of the Crucifixion. Some devotees went as far as having themselves nailed on the cross like Christ as part of their yearly penitence. 
Even Javier was disgusted over the blasphemous acts of these tourists. In his Facebook account, his caption for the jump shot: “Angeles Pampanga. Good Friday 3.30pm. The site of a Passion Play and the reading of the ‘Siete Palabras’. Kailangan talagang gawin ito? Even non-believers will cringe at the sight of this blatant show of disrespect and impropriety.”

Where to begin?  Let's start with Javier, the man who took those photos, accusing the tourists of blasphemy.

The whole of what happens during Easter throughout the entire Christian world, but especially in the Philippines, is a horrendous blasphemy. I say especially in the Philippines because throughout the country on Good Friday devotees scourge themselves with whips and crucify themselves in a national ritual of sympathetic magic. 
Sympathetic magic, also known as imitative magic, is a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence. 
The crucifixions at Pampanga are not part of  a simple "Passion Play" where the events of the Passion are reenacted so that the onlookers can see the Gospel before them.  It is a "Passion Play" like the passion plays of Osiris which reenact religious mysteries with the hope of accruing a benefit from God.
Devotees undergo the hardships in the belief that such extreme sacrifices are a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses or give thanks to God. 
“I am used to it already,” said Alex Laranang, 58, who was nailed up for the 14th time. 
Laranang, a short, sunburnt man who sells baked buns to bus passengers, said: “It is just like a needle going through my hand. After two days, I am ready to go back to work again.” 
So far, he told Agence France-Presse, his suffering has been rewarded as his wife and children enjoy good health and he continues to make a decent living. 
“I am doing this for my family, so that no one will get sick and that my livelihood will continue. I am just a poor man. But I don’t ask God to make me rich,” he said.
That is pure and simple blasphemy more than tourists getting up on a cross and striking a Jesus Christ pose for Facebook.  

"It's just like a needle going through my hand. After two days, I am ready to go back to work." What a way to negate the horror of the cross that Jesus Christ endured.  "Ah man it was nothing. I've been crucified 14 times." Alex Laranang is deluded and blinded by Satan.  Like all of us he needs to embrace the simple Gospel of faith in Jesus Christ.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ was crucified once for all and that he rose from the dead for remission of our sins.  To commemorate this event we don't crucify ourselves or reenact the events of the Passion.
I Corinthians 11:24: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 
I Corinthians 11:25: After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 
I Corinthians 11:26: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

The Lord's Supper, the breaking of bread symbolising His body and the pouring out of the wine symbolising His blood, are the ONLY means Jesus Christ gave us for remembering his passion. Anything else, especially crucifying yourself, is blasphemy. 

That's really enough.  Why even mention more?  This display is blasphemous.  End it. Don't participate in it.  Don't even look at it.  But there is one more thing. That thing is the commodification of the Passion from the one and only event in history that secures the salvation of mankind into a play, a spectacle.
It was the 27th crucifixion for sign painter Ruben Enaje, 52, one of the most popular penitents from San Pedro Cutud village. He began his yearly rite after surviving a fall from a building. 
Enaje screamed in pain as men dressed as Roman soldiers hammered stainless steel nails into his palms and feet. A wireless microphone carried his voice to loudspeakers for everyone watching to hear.
A wireless microphone carries his voice, his screams,  over loudspeakers for all to hear. This guy is the star of the show. He's up on the cross screaming and everyone is looking at him. Waiting to see if he will bleed and struggle.  Watching to see how he will endure the pain of the crossListening to hear if he will call out "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?"  
Enaje is not Jesus.  He is not saving the men watching him. The onlookers are separate from him. In contrast Christ was on the cross in our place. Those who watched Jesus on the cross were either objects of his love for whom his death secured salvation or objects of his wrath for him his death meant nothing but condemnation. Those who watch Enaje being crucified are simply an audience with no stake in what is happening to him. The crucifixion of Enaje has no cosmic significance and means nothing.
The Passion Play at Pampanga is a show plain and simple and those people posing on the cross for Facebook are merely standing in the place their favourite actor played out his part.  People all over the world visit the sites where famous films were shot.  You can go to North Africa and see the film sets of the original Star Wars.
It's a show.  Plain and simple.  You could broadcast this on television and save a lot of people from making a trip to Pamapanga. I guarantee high ratings. 

1 comment:

  1. Christ's one and only ULTIMATE sacrifice for the salvation of humanity from sin shouldn't be devalued and reduced into a mere side show! This is what pains me during the Lenten season, people trying to simulate Jesus' tragic fate, or perform despair-filled acts of self-harm, thinking that these efforts will absolve them of their sins or grant them heavenly rewards. Will such actions speak for us if we were to face Jesus in the Great White Throne? No, because of entrusting our salvation to religion rather than Jesus' saving grace, dying in sin in the end!