MANILA—As several Filipino penitents flock to the streets to whip their bloodied backs or carry wooden crosses to imitate the Christ's sufferings, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle reminded them that self-punishment is meaningless without love.
Speaking at a packed Manila Cathedral during Good Friday liturgy, Tagle said Jesus endured all the pain inflicted on Him because of love.
"Kailangan natin tingnan saan humugot si Hesus ng pantapat sa kasamaang sumisira at pumapatay. 'Yan ang pag-ibig na walang hanggan," the cardinal said.
"'Yan ang pag-ibig na walang hanggan. Hindi po pagpapakasakit ang nagliligtas. Ang nagliligtas ay pag-ibig na handang magpasakasakit."
(We need to see how Jesus fought a destructive, murderous form of evil. That is an everlasting love. It was love with no end. Suffering alone cannot bring salvation. Salvation is through love that is willing to suffer.)
Tagle said penitents who only inflict wounds on themselves will not attain salvation without serving and loving their neighbors.
"Akala nu'ng iba basta masaktan sila ligtas na. Hindi po 'yun ang nagliligtas," the archbishop said.
"Nagdurusa ka nga wala namang pag-ibig. Nagdurusa ka nga reklamo ka naman nang reklamo. Walang kaligtasan 'yun. Pag-ibig ang nagliligtas, pag-ibig na handa na magbata ng pagdurusa kung kinakailangan."
(Some people think that if they hurt themselves, they are already saved. You cannot attain salvation through that. You may be suffering, but there is no love. You may be suffering but all you do is complain. There's no salvation there. Salvation can be attained through love, the kind of love that is willing to suffer if need be.)
The Catholic Church continues to denounce acts of self-mortification as forms of sacrifice during Holy Week but devotees continue to practice these gory display of devotions.
A town in Pampanga alone continues to attract hundreds of tourists annually, as several men have themselves crucified on Good Friday.