by Sr. Marjorie J. Guingona, SAC
“See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the wilderness, I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.” Is. 43:19
Here I go again, climbing up the hill! I must have trodden the same trail so many times that these words suddenly came flashing in my head: ‘There’s nothing new under the sun,’ from Ecclesiastes 1:9 in the Old Testament. True enough, I have seen the same panorama countless times and this habitual climb may seem to be a monotonous ritual. And yet, one early Tuesday morning, I felt a silent nudge to take a different route into the unknown. It was a muddy winding trail that seemed to lead me nowhere until I finally caught a glimpse of a radiant light shining through the thick foliage of the woods. I could not believe my eyes as I marveled at the wondrous sight of the majestic view of the hills and mountains far beyond Lison Valley! I was simply in awe and a profound joy in my heart stayed with me throughout the day. The fears and sadness that remained in the dungeons of my inner world simply vanished into thin air giving me a renewed sense of freedom and peace.
My experience of joy and wonder continued on with the Easter story coming alive here in the remote hills of Nanga Nangan with the Subanen women and children. Their quiet yet active presence was evident throughout the Holy Week. They were the first to keep a vigil on Holy Thursday and helped prepare the traditional delicacy binignit for the ágape. They outnumbered the men in following the difficult ecological way of the cross and on the evening of Holy Saturday, made the Easter fire. Finally, they woke up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to participate for the first time in the Sugat, a re-enactment of the encounter of the Blessed Mother and the Risen Lord. Walking and praying with them along the muddy road toward our chapel was an unforgettable experience. The heavy rains the past days did not dampen their spirits and the joy of Easter was felt despite the simplicity of our liturgical celebrations It is interesting to note therefore that it is to women whom Jesus first appeared when he rose again from the dead. The Gospel narratives of Luke 22-24 and John 19-20 of the crucifixion and resurrection reveal the remarkable courage of the women of Easter: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They were there during the final hours of Jesus’ agony and death on the cross. And they were there for his dead body very early before dawn to finish the burial process that was abruptly terminated by the Jewish Sabbath. What was from the outset a time of mourning for the Lord’s tragic loss suddenly turned out to be a most astounding event that radically changed their lives -and ours- forever! Jesus first appeared to these women and called them to go and proclaim the incredible news of His resurrection to the disciples. These women have become the protagonists of the Good News in a cultural milieu where women did not have a voice in community affairs, were not considered trustworthy as messengers, nor were they counted as reliable witnesses to testify in court. And yet, what is so impressive from a historical point of view is the overwhelming consensus of the four Gospel narratives in their singular testimony that the tomb was found empty and that the women were the first ones who received the gospel mandate to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. These striking similarities merely point to the fact that all these really happened.
In a few weeks’ time, the Philippines will be choosing a new president to lead the country for the next three to six years. And yes, there is one brave and courageous woman who has stood out in a male-dominated world of politics. Leni Robredo is not just any woman for she has been tried and tested by the crucible of fire so much so that her heart has been transformed into gold. It is so amazing how one woman has become a catalyst for change despite the many odds against her, she had remained firm and true to her calling as a public servant serving the nation during her term as Vice President with a deep preferential option for the poor and the marginalized.
If our Lord Jesus were to vote given the opportunity to do so a few weeks from now, I have no doubt and I am convinced that his choice would be a revolutionary and surprising one. The fact that He had chosen women to be His first messengers of the Good News of salvation, putting aside whatever cultural barrier and prejudices in favor of a much broader role, that is, doing God’s will. Thus, He has paved the way for a new story to unfold. His call encompasses all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social standing. Rachel Shields, in her article Easter Morning: Women of the Dawn aptly says that by choosing women to inaugurate the new age of the coming kingdom, Jesus was as good as his word. The fact that he was willing to break with tradition and entrust women with the most momentous news in history calls us all to hear anew his words, redefine our expectations and realize that nothing is impossible in the kingdom of the living Jesus.”
And so as the world continues to face countless upheavals and crises one after the other, it would all appear that the end times are already upon us with the global health crisis, the escalating war raging in Ukraine and Russia, the alarming reality of global warming and climate change to name a few, The words of Ecclesiastes would again nag me into sliding back into pessimism that there is nothing new under the sun….that the coming elections will continue to be a dirty game where greed, lies, and deception will dominate the mindsets of power-hungry politicians. And that life as we know it, will continue to be miserable for the teeming masses of the poor here and across the globe.
And yet, there is a little flame of hope that keeps burning in my heart. It is a reawakening to the truth that we are not alone, that the new dawn is breaking and all our darkness is dispelled with the light of the Risen Lord. It is never too late to make a fresh start. Together with Mary, Our Blessed Mother, and all the women yesterday, today and tomorrow continue to enkindle the fire of God’s great love for us and for all of creation. May we be emboldened to make our prophetic voices heard in proclaiming that the God of life and love, truth, justice, peace, and solidarity has triumphed over the forces of evil, of sin, and death. Truly, the Lord is Risen! ALLELUIA!
 https://www.rand.org/latest/russia-ukraine.html  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/global-warming-real
Marjorie J. Guingona, SAC
April 19, 2022
Nanga Nangan, Tigbao, ZDS