I remember during one of Hangad's rehearsals a few years ago, when we were asked to contemplate about how Good Friday was for the disciples at the time of Jesus' death. For us modern-day Christians, the observance of Holy Week is a commemoration of the unconditional love of the Father that smoothly culminates with its triumph over sin and death at Easter. The sorrow of the Passion is always met with the glory of the Resurrection.
Yet for the disciples, this anticipation of triumph was alien to them. All they knew was that Jesus was dead, and that his promise of a kingdom of salvation died with Him on the cross. They were confused, consumed by grief, frightened at the prospect of being persecuted in the same manner as their Teacher. They felt abandoned, left in darkness, and had nowhere to turn. Still, they remained together in this moment of darkness, albeit in fear, but together.
This evening of Good Friday and for the remainder of Black Saturday, we are invited to recognise this Holy Darkness, and to be grateful to the faithful apostles who stayed with each other in deep mourning, and in hope for an answer to the seemingly inevitable end of their calling. It is a reminder to us that things happen for a reason, and that reason is not always immediately tangible. It is an exercise in patience, fortitude, and pure faith.
Darkness could not have been any more real to me than it was during Holy Week last year. My family and I were in the hospital, praying for enlightenment that we make the best decision on how to go about my father's heart problem. I was experiencing personal difficulties of my own, asking for a sign if my decision to break free from a relationship was the right one. Never in my life had I felt so lost, so pained, so alone, so blinded by darkness.
Yet my family stayed together. I kept myself together. We held on for about a month more before Dad was finally discharged from the hospital, surviving a quintuple bypass operation. I kept firm with my decision, and braved through it with inspiration from my father, my family and all of you who prayed with me. And like the days after the Resurrection, I had my share of miracles, "apparitions", unexpected obstacles and minor persecutions. Still, I remained with unwavering faith that the answer will come.
Looking back now a year later, I realise that everything happened all at the same time for me to finally put to rest an old self that had been in pain for so long. There were a lot of things I held on to then that I thought I couldn't live without, but it came to a point that I had to muster enough courage to leave it all to God, to be patient, and to believe. It's downright amazing how time really changes how we see.
I will be forever grateful for the darkness of that period in my life. For without it, my Easter would not be as resplendent as it is today.