Unlocked – Arnel Aquino, SJ

 Mark 16:1-7, Easter Vigil

 

May binili ako sa Riverbanks nung isang araw. Nung palabas na ako kasama ng medyo makapal na mga tao, napansin ko na naman na isang glass door lang yung nakabukas. Yung kaparis niya, nakasara. Matagal ko na yun gustong itanong sa may-ari. Kung bakit ba magpapalagay ng dalawang swinging glass doors, pero yung isa, laging sarado—eh ang daming tao. Eh kung nagpagawa na lang kaya sila ng isang glass door lang, mura pa, pero pareho ang epekto: siksikan at kabwisitan.

Pero sa bahay namin sa Dabaw meron ding ganyan. Yung lola ko, sumalangit nawa, ay saksakan ng kuripot! Pero understood ‘yon kasi mahirap lang sila sa Batangas. Tapos nagsilipat silang magkakamag-anak sa Davao. Nagbenta ng kulambo, nakapagpundar na lupa’t bahay. At namili ang lola ko ng mga mamahaling plato, platito, kubyertos, mangkok with matching ceramic na sandok—at ikinandadong lahat sa cabinet na may salamin! “Ay, huwag kayong lalapit di-yan, Y’ay mababasag, ay, kamamahal ni-yan!”

At tulad din po ng mga bahay ninyo, maganda rin naman po ang front door namin sa bahay sa Davao. May hala-halaman, bula-bulaklak. May twin-hearts. At tulad din po ng mga front door ninyo—sa kusina po sa likod ang daan namin papasok sa bahay!

Napansin ko rin po, mukhang parami na ang mga simbahan na nakakandado kapag walang misa—tulad ba sa Amerika. Para sa akin wala na pong lulungkot pa sa simbahang nakakandado buong araw, maliban lang pag may misa. Bawal na pumasok. Bawal na sa pulubi. Bawal na sa pobreng sintu-sinto na dating natutulog sa harap ng krus. Dami nang bawal.

Kaya siguro nadadala natin ang ugaling ito sa ating pananampalataya. Kahit marubdob ang pananalig natin sa Diyos, at kahit mahigpit ang kapit natin sa mga bagay na maka-Diyos, meron tayong mga kanda-kandado. May mga pari na ayaw magbinyag ng bata na hindi kasal ang mga magulang—na para bang kasalanan ng bata. May mga parokya na bawal ang batang babae magsakristan. May mga parish council na hindi nagpapasaok sa misa kahit naka-city-shorts ang tao, mga lay minister na hindi ibibigay sa ‘yo ang komunyon sa kamay. At maalala ko nga, di ba may tinatawag tayong katoliko sarado, de candado, itinapon pa ang susi? Sino yung nasa likod ng pintuang nakasarado’t nakakandado? Malamang ang Diyos.

On that very first Easter morning, the women friends of the Lord woke up early. They gathered the most fragrant of spices so they could anoint the Lord’s mortal remains. Halfway along the way, they must’ve stopped dead in their tracks and realized, “Teka, eh pa’no nga pala natin bubuksan yung kweba? Who will roll back the stone for us? Yung libingan ng Panginoon, naka-kandado ng malaki at matigas na bato”.

But what do you know—when the women got there, the tomb was “unlocked”; no, it was breached. And it certainly sounded like Jesus, to always breach anything that locked God in. When he was freely walking Galilee and Jerusalem, he was breaching protocol after protocol: the Sabbath law, the ban on women, the excommunication of tax collectors, the corporal restraints against prostitutes, lepers, and the ill. The Lord must’ve thought: “My Father does not need to be tamper-proofed. What we need is more room, more room for people, people who need freeing. The room that you lock my Father in, it’s too crowded now. It’s bursting with egos.” So the Lord infringed into what the elders gasped at—as forbidden territory. Their solution: lock his arms and feet on a cross from which he could never descend alive, and lock up whatever’s left of him behind heavy rock…for good. “We have custody of Yahweh, and we shall protect him from this libertine, this blasphemer.”

My sisters and brothers, Easter vigil after Easter vigil, we read five to seven stories that retell our long and wondrous history of salvation. Every story is about freedom—freedom from nothingness, freedom from tyranny and want, freedom from godlessness and chaos. In all these, God keeps breaking history open because he is relentlessly a God of wide and open spaces—which, by the way includes our hearts. And when he raised his son from the dead, God breached what the world thought was the most inviolable dominion of all—the dominion of death.

So, this year, I’m not going to ask us: “What parts of our hearts and souls have we kept closed, so that the Lord cannot enter them?” but rather: “How have we locked God in? Paano natin ginagapos ang Diyos? From whom do we inhibit God from reaching out to, and touching, from pardoning and compassioning? What personal protocols have we that the Lord is dying to breach, so that we’d have more room for the God of surprises, more room for people, more room for creative faith—and less for our religious egos?”

“You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified,” a young man said. “Well, he has been raised; he is not here. Look at the place where they laid him.” It is empty. My dear sisters and brothers, the holy of holies is no longer a restricted place, a locked place. The Holy of holies is the Risen Christ, and in him, there is room for all. In him, everyone belongs.

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