By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
Jesus said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many” — Mark 14:24
Human Rights Day
December 10 is International Human Rights Day. We celebrated this special occasion in our Seminary two days earlier. Together with the Office of the Bishop of the North Luzon Jurisdiction of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and the Regional Ecumenical Council of the Cordilleras (RECCORD), we conducted a worship service and a forum on human rights with the theme: “Living Out the UCCP-IFI Partnership Covenant and its Response amidst the Culture of Impunity.” We invited as our speaker and resource person the Rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary (ACTS), Rev. Dr. Eleuterio J. Revollido, whom we fondly call “Fr. Terry”.
On November 28, 1999, the leaders of the UCCP and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or IFI (Philippine Independent Church) signed a partnership covenant, particularly in the area of theological education. The leaders of both churches who signed the covenant were envisioning that the partnership would blossom later on into a possible organic union of the two churches. Of course, both churches are currently active members of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), an organization of churches in our country that is serving as an instrument as well as a sign of visible unity among churches and Christians in our country “that they may be one so that the world may believe”(Jn. 17:21).
Shedding of Blood
From Fr. Terry’s presentation we could see a far deeper partnership that goes beyond educational and organizational unity. Since the signing of the partnership covenant in 1999, among all the churches in our country today UCCP and IFI have had the greatest number of clergy and lay leaders who were victims of extra-judicial killings. Since the perpetrators of these state killings were never known or punished, UCCP and IFI have had also the biggest number of victims of impunity. They were, indeed, partners in the shedding of blood for the sake of our people.
One of the victims of these state killings was no less than Bishop Alberto Ramento, former Obispo Maximo (Supreme Bishop) of the IFI. In the funeral service of Fr. William Tadena, one of his priests and a victim of extra-judicial killings, Bishop Ramento delivered a sermon on the Eucharist. He said that the shedding of Fr. Tadena’s blood was a concrete celebration of the Eucharist. It was his participation in the shedding of Christ’s blood for the sake of our sinful humanity. Although Bishop Ramento saw some signs that his days were numbered, he never thought he would become the next victim.
The Lord’s Supper
According to the Scriptures, on the night that our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body which is broken for you. Eat in remembrance of me.” Then, after supper he took the cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my blood which is poured out for many. Drink in remembrance of me” (Mk. 14:22-25).
It is important to note that the word “many” comes from the Greek word “ochlos” which can also be translated as “people” or “masses of people”.
The shedding of Christ’s blood is a logical consequence of the giving of his life in the service of the people. If Christ did not genuinely serve the people, perhaps he would not be a victim of judicial killing. If he did not empower the people, giving them hope, forgiving their sins, challenging the status quo, and denouncing the hypocrisies of the powers-that-be, perhaps, his precious blood would not be shed on the cross. But then, by not doing the things that he did, perhaps the way of salvation for this world which is the way of service to people with love and compassion would not be shown to us.
Participation in Christ’s suffering
Mark’s Gospel from which our text was taken was written at the time when the Christian Community was being persecuted by state authorities in Rome. The Christians were accused by Emperor Nero of burning the City. The Roman historian, Tacitus, claimed that it was the Emperor who actually ordered the burning of the City because he wanted to change the architectural design of the City but the people would not like it. Hence, many believers in Rome were asking why they suffer for their faith in Christ.
By telling the story of Christ through his Gospel, Mark was simply saying that the sufferings of Christians because of their faith were their own participation in the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Thus, if we Christians today suffer because of our faith, Christ our Lord also suffers with us. We do find comfort and hope in the words of Apostle Paul saying, “If we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory” (Romans 8:17). # nordis.net