The Philippines may be seen by some as a poor country. Despite the economic challenges, there are two remarkable gems that emerge from this context. The first is our unwavering faith. The second is our heartwarming music. These Filipino gifts of faith and music intertwine in a distinctive Lenten practice known as the Pabasa. This devout activity involves chanting verses from the book known as “Pasyon,” as both an act of sacrifice and a form of catechesis. In the distant past, our ancestors did not have access to the Bible due to their prohibitive cost. As such, the Pabasa ng Pasyon served as a valuable substitute for religious teaching and devotion.
The tradition of the Pabasa is one we must uphold. However, I believe we should also contemplate other expressions of this tradition. Our neighbors request the Pabasa, but not necessarily in its familiar form. What they seek is a reflection of Christ’s life through ours. They are asking, “Pabasa ng buhay ni Kristo sa pamamagitan ng buhay mo.” Let us decipher the life of Christ by observing your life.
If, hypothetically, all copies of the Bible and Pasyon were to be lost this year, could we still represent the sanctity of Christ’s life by having others witness ours? I am not advocating for the burning of Pasyon books. However, wouldn’t it be more meaningful if our Pabasa derived not from a book, but from the book of our lives?
Inspired by St. Paul, we should have the courage to say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” A Pabasa sourced from our lives would serve as a more profound and pleasing offering to God during the Lenten season.
What the world needs now are not more readers of the Pasyon or more volunteers for the Pabasa. What the world needs now is proof that God is love. What the world needs now are witnesses to this love. If our Pabasa is to resonate within the Philippines today, it will be because they have first been lived out by us. Let us write the Gospel of Jesus not according to Mark, Matthew, Luke or John, but according to our lives. The world is waiting for the Gospel of Jesus as told through your life.
A SECOND LOOK AT OUR PABASA
Looking For Jesus