April 4, 2015, 11:49 a.m. – THE ORDER of the Preachers
again led Filipinos in reflecting on the “Seven Last Words” of Jesus Christ on
Good Friday at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

Reflecting on the first of Jesus’ last words, “Father,
forgive them, for they know not what they do”, Fr. Gallardo Bombase, O.P., a
parish priest in Albay, said God’s forgiveness is the most effective cure to
the sickness brought by sin. “Ang kapatawaran ng Diyos ay libre. Ang kailangan
lang ay pagsisihan ng taimtim. Kahit hindi ka handa, palaging handang magpatawad
ang Diyos,” Bombase said.

In the second of Jesus’ last words, “I assure you, today you
will be with me in paradise,” Fr. Norman Quilaquil, O.P., a missionary in
Davao, said true paradise is experienced when one encounters God’s love through
His forgiveness. He reminded people to remember the goodness in each person.
“Masyado tayong nakakakita ng masama, nakakaligtaan natin na tayo ay ginawang
mabuti,” Quilaquil said.

In response to Pope Francis’ call to highlight the role of
women in the Church, Sr. Catherine Cruz, dean of Colegio de San Juan de Letran
de Manaoag, reflected on the third of the last words of Jesus, “Dear woman,
here is your son.”

Cruz was the second female chosen to preach during the Siete
Palabras, after Sr. Letty Ham, O.P. of the Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies who
gave her reflection a decade ago. Cruz said women must be able to share their
love and support as a mother to people in need. “We must be able to share to
people that we are here for them. The reason why the Church takes action upon
seeing wrongdoings is because the Church is the mother of the people,” Cruz
said.

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Pondering on the fourth of Christ’s last words, “My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me,” Fr. Carlo del Rosario O.P. said the challenges
we face are not signs of hopelessness but are signals that we must trust in the
Lord. “Sa gitna ng karanasan sa buhay na parang pinababayaan tayo ng Diyos,
tumingin tayo sa kanya. Sa mga panahong bitbit natin ang pinakamabigat na Krus
sa ating buhay, kasama natin si Hesus,” Del Rosario said.

Veteran preacher Fr. Enrico Gonzales, O.P., reflected on the
fifth of Jesus’ last words, “I am thirsty,” saying that Jesus Christ’s thirst
symbolizes that he carries the weight of people’s sins. “Inangkin ng Diyos ang
ating mga kasalanan upang turuan tayong umibig,” Gonzales said.

In the sixth of Jesus’ last words, “It is finished”, UST
Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Filemon dela Cruz, O.P.  said Jesus saved everyone from drowning in
sin upon his death. “Ang kasalanan tulad ng utang ay pinagbabayaran. Kayang
pagbayarin ang kasalanan kung mayroong tutubos. Si Kristo ang tumubos sa atin,”
Dela Cruz said.

Concluding the reflections, Fr. Allan Lopez, O.P. of
Pangasinan explained the seventh of Jesus’ last words, “Father, I entrust my
spirit into your hands.” These words meant that Jesus’ death was a call to
live a holy life, he said. “Sa kamatayan ni Hesus, tinuturuan tayong magtiwala
para magkaroon ng kapanatagan. Noong Siya ay namatay, buong pagtitiwala Siyang
umasa na tayo ay magbabago mula sa pagkakasala,” Lopez said.

Aside from Cruz, seven other women gave personal testimonies
in this year’s “Siete Palabras,” such as Sr. May Escalano, O.P., who helps farmers
and people with disabilities in Pampanga; Lourdes Ukila, a teacher of less
fortunate children in Navotas; Lucy Guya, a community builder for indigenous
people; Sr. Cecilia Espenilla, O.P., who attends to victims of human
trafficking; Catherine Ramos, O.P., a teacher in Aquinas School; and Sr. Elvira
Delfonso, O.P., a survivor of tuberculosis.

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'Shun materialism, help the poor'

Now on its 20th year, Siete Palabras is the longest-running
Holy Week program in Philippine television organized by the Order of the
Preachers. This year, it aimed to reach more Filipinos abroad through the live
Internet streaming offered by Radio Veritas and the Catholic Media Network. A
live broacast of the program was shown on GMA Network.

This year’s production featured the UST Salinggawi Dance
Troupe, seminarian Br. Kenneth Rey Parsad, the Letran Filipiniana Dance
Company, Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir, and the Letran Calamba Culture
and Arts Department. Marie Danielle L. Macalino

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