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‘Salubong’: Meet and Rejoice! Lenten Devotions
Sunday, April 24
"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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