Recorded by DaliusLLPhotographs by Rogena Sining, Leonard Sabinus
Sandakan: Commemoration of the Lord’s passion started at 9.00am in the morning of 14th April with hundreds of faithful walked their way meditatively to every designated Stations of the Cross along the St. Mary Cathedral’s hill road leading to the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
The Good Friday service in Bahasa Melayu began at 1.30pm at St. Mary’s Cathedral, drawing huge crowds that fill every pew and chairs inside and outside the Church, while the English service was conducted later at 5.00pm. Similarly, the Chinese Good Friday service was held at 3.00pm in the St. Joseph Church, a further 2.5 kilometres from the from St Mary’s Cathedral.
The English service was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Christopher Ireneus, the newly ordained priest from this diocese in a solemn atmosphere that led everyone into a meditative, spiritual mode while contemplating the passion of the Lord.
In his homily, he posed a question of how do we react to Jesus’ suffering for us? To understand God’s mercy, and to comprehend the depth of God’s love towards everyone, he related the story of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Like the prodigal son, we too tend to have an incomplete understanding of God’s forgiveness and mercy. In the story, the son has made up his mind to say three things to his father upon his return. Firstly, he has sinned against Heaven and his father. Secondly, he no longer deserves to be called his son and thirdly, to treat him as one of the servants. Contrary to his expectation, he did not have the opportunity to become a paid servant but was treated with a welcoming home celebration upon his return to the father. Similarly, Fr. Christopher elaborated that we have no idea of the enormous graces of God. We believe during Mass, Jesus’ sacrifices on Calvary extends beyond time, extended through time to us in the same way when we receive Jesus’ forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. Time and again, God’s perpetual forgiveness is flowing to us from Calvary giving strength to the Christian life. He further said that God’s mercy is best explained by Saint Sr. Faustina’s Divine Messages that restore the soul through His divine mercy.
After the communion service the faithful proceeded with venerating the cross, on which the Catholic commemorates the crucifixion of Christ.