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‘Salubong’: Meet and Rejoice! Lenten Devotions

Sunday, April 24 

Jesus and stained glass "After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you” (Matthew 28:1-7).

There is a tradition repeated every Easter by devout Roman Catholic Filipinos: the salubong (literally meaning “meeting”). Just before dawn—at 4 a.m.—men gather in one part of town, following a procession with the statue of the resurrected Christ. In another part of town, a procession of women, led by a statue of the Virgin Mary veiled in black. The two processions then converge on the plaza in front of the cathedral or church.

There, a young girl dressed as an angel is hoisted up (nowadays they use a crane) and lifts the black veil of the Virgin Mary so she sees the resurrected Christ. Tradition holds that the veil must be fully lifted up otherwise the coming year will be full of misfortune. All the while, the choir sings a chorus of alleluias. Then the two statues and the people enter the church for a one-house mass.

There is, of course, something wrong with the way the salubong is celebrated. There is no record in the Bible that the Virgin Mary actually met Jesus Christ after he rose from the dead or that she was the other Mary who visited the tomb and met the angel. Somehow, it was reinterpreted, and the Virgin Mary now meets Jesus in the salubong held in the Philippines.

But no matter how the story of the resurrection is reinterpreted, one truth remains immutable: Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed! Even if the Virgin Mary’s black veil is not fully lifted, and misfortune may follow, the truth remains that after three days of mourning, Christ is risen as has been foretold by the prophets.

Let us rejoice this Easter day—let us commit ourselves to another year of service, of worship, of praise to our Lord, the risen Christ.

Our Father, remove from us the sophistication of our age and the skepticism that has become, like frost, to blight our faith and to make it weak. Bring us back to a faith that makes people great and strong, a faith that enables us to love and to live, the faith by which we are triumphant, the faith by which alone we can walk with Thee …. Lord we make this our prayer. Amen.—by Dr. Peter Marshall, from The Prayers of Peter Marshall, by Catherine Marshall.

Adlai J. Amor is director of communications at Bread for the World.

Photo credit: Sarah Rohrer

 

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Comments

Enjoyed learning about the Filipino tradition of the "salubong." I always enjoy learning about different ethnic customs. However, I take exception with one sentence: "There is, of course, something wrong with the way the salubong is celebrated." At first, I thought you were referring to the superstitious interpretations that if the whole veil does not get removed completely, then the year ahead will be filled with misfortune. But you were not. The paragraph goes on to say, "There is no record in the Bible that the Virgin Mary actually met Jesus Christ after he rose from the dead ...."

Is it a "wrong" reinterpretation to think/suggest that the Virgin Mary might have been the first one to encounter the risen Christ? I personally think not. Yes, it can't be verified from any Bible story. But that doesn't rule out that such a meeting did not happen. Does it not say in St. John's Gospel that Jesus did many other things and worked signs that are not written in this book?

It makes sense to me that the Virgin Mother was the first person to encounter the risen Christ. Besides being Jesus' mother [a good Jewish mother, at that], she is also the best model of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Christ. She followed Jesus so thoroughly that she was always turned toward God and avoided sin her life long. And from Jesus' perspective, it makes sense that after his victory, he would want to see the person with whom he was closest in his life. It is just a human desire to want to share our joy with those we love most.

It may not be recorded in the Bible, but I have no doubt that it didn't happen--on Easter morning,the Virgin Mary was the first to encounter the risen Christ.

As a Filipino catholic, I always thought that Salubong whilst it is artfully represented on Easter Sunday it is rather a celebration of Good News to the Sorrowful Mother/ Catholics that Jesus,her son , our Saviour is actually risen from the dead. Peace xxx

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