Is God beaming from ear to ear seeing what we have seen, heard what we have heard? Has Quaipo become the seat of holiness after all the physical, mental, financial, and material sacrifices offered for the feast?
The government assigned some 8,000 policemen and soldiers to patrol, protect, guide, assist those who joined the procession. Was it worth it? Was it needed? How many people elsewhere whose safety was put to risk because of this pull-out of uniformed men? Telcos shut off cellphone signals in most areas of Manila to lessen the possibility of bombing and terrorism. How many people who had an emergency, but couldn't use their mobile phones because of this? Was it worth it? Was it needed? Roads and traffic were re-routed to give the devotees all the ground they could walk on barefoot to exalt their faith. How many people lost their way, got reprimanded for being late at work? Was it worth it? Was it needed? Hospitals were booked to welcome those who might get hurt, get sick, get killed. Seventy or so ambulances left their base to be where the procession was. A number of schools and offices were closed for the day. Was it worth it? Was it needed? Is that how God wants to be worshiped and remembered? Really?
We ask God for protection and yet we put ourselves in harm's way. We ask God for pardon and yet we punch anyone who gets in our way. We ask God to heal us and yet we go to a place that common sense tells us would make us more sick. We ask God for mercy and yet look how selfish and unforgiving we have become. We ask God for riches and yet we leave work to join the circus.
Tradition? Lucban, Quezon has its own feast called Pahiyas. Their celebration is as Catholic and traditional as Catholic and traditional can be. But their celebration is festive and welcoming and full of thanksgiving that local and international tourists never fail to join the festivities. Nothing like the feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. Nothing like a paganistic, pre-historic celebration held in the time of spiritual enlightenment and freedom. No friars to fine, mock and torture us for our absence in the practice and our failure to give tithes.
Someone has to put a stop to this madness.
The new Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle has to make a stand, and put a stop to the yearly crazy procession altogether. Keep the Black Nazarene inside the church. Celebrate the mass there, instead of the Luneta Grandstand. Masses are supposed to be held in churches, right? Unless there is none within a 10-kilometer radius. Let the devotees go to church and worship. There is nothing in Moses' tablets of commandments nor in Jesus' two greatest commandments that tells the faithful to join a bloody, deadly procession in order to be heard by the Great Almighty. Or is there?
God doesn't need to see us suffer to attain grace. He's already done that part for us. So what are all these masochistic, pseudo-spiritual practices about?
Archbishop Tagle, we have so much faith in what God can do through you. Stop all this madness before it explodes. (And that's from a love song!)