Milwida M. Guevara
My classmate Nonong Roque and I were shoo-ins for our town's annual "cenakulo" (passion play). We were cast in the annual Christmas tableau and our costumes pre-qualified us to take part in the play. For weeks, the town's seamstresses had nothing to do except to turn curtains into robes. Corn silk were meticulously arranged to look like beards. After the palm procession, everybody trooped to the town plaza to watch the stage play.
Our town has ceased producing the "cenakulo" for years. But see it played quite often in many occasions and with a set of new cast.
The Crowd is composed of people who attend services and masses regularly. They brand themselves as defenders of their faith. And yet, they sing praises to someone who mock their religion, heap insults on their leaders, curses publicly, and questions their long revered beliefs. They clap heartily and pose for selfies with those who have robbed the country of millions that should have helped the poor.
The Disciples are senators, congressmen and government officials who claim that they stand for the ideals of good governance, honesty, and good performance. And yet, you see them endorsing the candidacy of those who have cases of plunder, abused their power, and rose to fame by being sycophants.
The Judas among us are those who were elected to office and swore to protect the Constitution and obey our laws but betrayed public trust by being the first offenders and violators of the Constitution. They use public office to promote their interests, enrich themselves, and have sold their loyalty to the country for more than thirty pieces of silver.
The Sanhedrin is the assembly of the wealthy and the powerful who are locked in self-preservation. They bask in the safety of their exclusive subdivisions, attend parties where they mingle with their own kind, both as a duty and privilege. They are indifferent to the cries of the poor and victims of injustice. They support candidates who will lend an ear to their lobbying efforts and will protect their business and family interests.
The Women of Jerusalem and Simon of Cyrene, weep for their country, feel afraid of what the future will bring, and are about to lose hope. But they experience an awakening and a tinge of conscience. They are roused from resentment to mercy and compassion and help carry the cross by sharing their time and strengths with those who need them most
Pontius Pilate knows a lot of things are going wrong but is too afraid of what he will lose and refuses to stand up and fight for what is right. He finds safety in what is popular and in knowing that by not rocking the boat, he will survive.
The Repentant Thief represents many of us who have gravely sinned and are seeking salvation by asking forgiveness. We pray that it is not too late to make up for our sins of omission and commission, for our sense of entitlement, for our lack of humility and feeling of moral ascendancy.
Our town’s “Cenakulo” used to end up with a scene on the Resurrection. We all fell on our faces contrite but full of hope because a new life has dawned.
May our modern-day “cenakulo” end with our Resurrection.