A grim Good Friday reenactment of Jesus’s suffering.

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12-18)

The Philippines is about 80% Roman Catholic, and the country’s culture is strongly mixed with and established based on Catholicism. Since the Lenten Season is the time of the year where most of the Catholic practices and rituals are performed, it is never a surprise for the locals to see some devout parishioners go beyond what was called for by the Catholic church. Because of the rich mixture of pagan roots and that of Catholicism, many devotees naturally lean toward folk superstition ending up in the spectacle that is a unique brand of Catholicism in this country. It is baffling, though, to know that although the Catholic church condemns such practices, the annual rituals have continued since the 1950′s.

Calculating the true cost

From a biblical perspective, though, re-enacting Jesus’ suffering and death in such a way borders on mockery to the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God who was sent to die for the reparation sin of those who will believe. Just imagine Jesus standing before Pilate. He is about to have His back scourged with a Roman cat-of-nine tails. Nine rough leather straps, with bits of broken glass and sharp metal shards woven in to lacerate the skin. The hulking, powerful Roman guards would lash out with all their might, make contact, and then drag the whip back across the skin. Over and over again this was done to the back of Jesus in brutal, barbaric fashion. Now, if any of you think this was just a little “whipping” and was something Jesus could easily shake off, let’s do the math to see exactly how brutal it really was.

The cat-o-nine-tails has 9 leather straps with, on average, 5 sharp pieces of metal or glass woven in. According to Roman law, He would have been whipped about 40 times. Take out your calculator and times 9 x 5 x 40, and what do you get? 1,800 potential lacerations that filleted our Saviour like a fish at cleaning time. Beloved, you cannot begin to imagine the PRICE HE PAID for your sin and mine. Which is why we recoil in horror when we read stories like the following that only serve to mock and belittle the true sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary.

From the Washington Post: Nine Catholic devotees in the Philippines marked Good Friday by reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with real nails driven through their hands and feet as villagers dressed as Roman centurions and thousands of others looked on. The devotees say they endure the pain to give thanks, atone for their sins and pray during Holy Week.

Agony or Mockery?: Bobby Gomez grimaces as a nail is hammered into his hand in the Good Friday celebration

“I feel good because my suffering has ended,” Ruben Enaje, a 51-year-old sign painter, told the Associated Press. Enaje went through his 26th crucifixion this year after recently surviving a fall from a building. The annual event, held this year in the northern province of Pampanga, is opposed by Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines and around the world, who say that there is no reason to go through this pain.

“The church’s position is there’s no need to go through this physical and literal pain on the body because Christ already did that for us,” the Rev. Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines told the AP.

Pain: A Filipino man has nails through his hands - and some more put through his feet as he is put on a cross in the reenactment.

Castro suggests that people go to confession and give alms instead. Also opposed to the tradition are the country’s health officials, who have warned in years past that those taking part in the rituals should have tetanus shots and be pierced by sterilized nails.


Horror: Percy Valencia, 41, is hoisted up onto a cross before being 'crucified' for a few minutes today .

Just before Friday’s crucifixion, scores of people who did not go up on the cross whipped themselves as a symbol of their repentance. Others marched through the streets beating their naked backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood.

Hooded barefoot penitents perform self-flagellation to atone for their sins in San Fernando, Pampanga in northern Philippines.

Two foreign students were allowed to film this year’s rites, but angered organizers when they tried to participate in the procession, according to the AP. Foreigners are not allowed to participate because of two incidents in which an Australian comic was nailed to a cross using a fake name, and a Japanese man tried to be crucified for a scene in a porn film. source – Washington Post