This was the message of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who officiated the Palm Sunday Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Cebu City on April 5, 2020.
The mass was livestreamed because all religious activities in churches with large congregation were suspended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The church’s pews were empty except for the presence of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, her brother Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) and a few members of their staff.
“In this time of Covid-19, hopefully we should be serious in giving value to our life. That’s why both civil authority and all people of good will remind us to do our outmost best that we preserve this life that the Lord gave us,” Palma said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
The prelate urged the faithful to contemplate the importance of life, saying many hardheaded individuals continue to defy authorities’ call for social distancing and violate the rules of the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, is the last Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified, according to catholic.org.
In the Philippines, the faithful attend Palm Sunday masses carrying woven palm fronds blessed by the priests.
Despite the ECQ that does not allow non-essential travel outside the home, some people still sold palm fronds outside churches, including the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. There were also a handful of faithful who bought palm fronds that they would attach to the front of their doors for the duration of the Holy Week.
In his homily, Palma said the faithful should appreciate all frontliners who risk their lives for the safety of everyone. He hoped that all their sacrifices will not be in vain.
“Let’s appreciate the sacrifices of people that we may have safety... we thank God that we are not affected by Covid,” he said.
The archbishop also thanked leaders who prioritized the good of the community. (JCT)