The Week We Call Holy
Published on April 16-17, 2011 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
This is the week we call holy, the days we hold sacred in our Faith. But in my native Tagalog, we call this week by another name: not Banal na Linggo, which literally means holy week, but Mahal na Araw—precious day.
This other name sums up for me what this week is all about. That Tagalog word mahal describes something or someone that is regarded with some worth. When used as an adjective, it means ’expensive;’ but when used as a verb, it means ‘to love.’ Something that is mahal is prized and often priced; someone who is mahal is precious and beyond price. Yet when this word mahal refers to a day (in Tagalog, araw), it points us to this week when we recall the price that was paid for our sins by so precious a Savior. We call this week mahal not only because the cost of the Lord’s life for our sake is so lavish—so mahal—but more so because His sacrifice on the cross proves to us that we are His mahal, His beloved.
This is the week we call mahal, the days that are so precious because they point us to Him who is most Precious. What we do this week will let others know why these days are different from all other days, why they are mahal and hallowed, not mura and hollow. It behooves us then to mean what we say: to keep holy this week we call holy.