On This Good Friday:
The Cross We Carry
By Simeon G. Silverio, Jr.
Publisher & Editor
San Diego Asian Journal
The Original and First Asian Journal In America
Seventh in a Series of Easter Articles
San Diego, California
April 11, 2014
A cousin of my mother, Tiyo (Uncle) Ben, noticed that my cousin Carding, who was shirtless in front of him, had a mole on his right shoulder. We were vacationing in the province then, and our Uncle brought us to his farm and served us beer and broiled catfish from the nearby irrigation ditch. We had just finished swimming in that ditch, and a cool breeze of wind was sweeping over our shirtless and wet bodies.
“Pasang krus ka pala (You are a cross carrier), he told my cousin.
One of the many superstitious beliefs of our elders then, especially in the rural areas, was the notion that if one has mole on his shoulder, he will suffer in life. The shoulder is the place where Jesus Christ carried his cross. The mole signifies one persons cross; hence, hell follow Jesuss painful fate.
“But I already suffered enough in life, Carding complained, hoping his past pain would spare him from what could potentially come ahead.
As far as I know, the hex on Carding did not come true. The superstitious belief regarding the mole on his shoulder proved to be just a product of ones imagination. Though Cardings father died when he was 12 years old, he lived a good life. He got a job at the Philippine Airlines where his father worked, for children of deceased former employees got a priority for job openings. When the Pan American Airlines looked for baggage carriers to work in their airport in Wake Island, Carding received an offer. He was paid in U.S. dollars and was able to send money to his widowed mother. Since he was already in American soil, Wake Island, a U.S. territory, he chose to go to the mainland despite lacking a working visa when his contract expired. He knew he would face a bleak future if he returned to the Philippines.
In Los Angeles, he lived with the family of his brother-in-law and worked as the patriarchs driver. His kind nature endeared him to them and when his visa was about to expire, the father suggested Carding marry his fat, spinster, temperamental daughter. The father knew nobody would dare marry the girl. Carding agreed and got his immigrant visa. But instead of divorcing her later, he was kind enough to stay put, sometimes suffering her ill behavior. In addition to being a good person, he was afraid the marriage of his sister to his wifes brother might be endangered if he left. People might say that the wifes behavior was the cross attributed by the mole on his shoulder. Other than that, Carding lived comfortably compared to his peers in the Philippines. He could help a lot of his relatives when they came to the U.S. seeking a good life. His house in Los Angeles, much to the chagrin of his wife, had become an “Ellis Island where his kinfolks with tourist visas would stay for extended periods of time until they get settled on their own.
As we observe Good Friday today, I believe we all have a cross to carry. No one among us has a perfect life. The fairy tale phrase “And they lived happily ever after is simply a fairy tale phrase. And it is by emulating the suffering of Jesus Christ that we can endure our own suffering as we carry our own crosses.
Look around you. Behind the smile of the faces of the people you meet is the pain of their suffering. The crosses they carry. Some people have lost their children, the worst fate imaginable.
“Parents are not supposed to survive their offspring, they wail in grief.
Some have suffered in silence as they take care of their children with birth defects.
The daughter of a friend of mine knew his son had a congenital heart defect before he was born, but she refused to have her pregnancy terminated as some advised.
“This is my son, she proclaimed. “I would take care of and love him no matter what.
The boy, now three, is on his second heart operation. His grandparents worship him and have dubbed him their “brave warrior.
If you look at your own life, you can easily identify the crosses you carry and the blessings you received. But it is not how many crosses you have but how you deal with them that matters.
I once asked an elderly friend how he deals with depression and the fear of death. “Are you not worried? Dont you feel bad that your good old days are behind you?
“Nope, he said matter-of-factly. “I just look forward to the time when I will go to heaven. I know I will have eternal happiness by then.
With faith like this, no fear or misfortune can ruin ones day.
My religious aunts would welcome any suffering coming their way. They believe the more pain they endure, the better is their chance to ascend to heaven. They call it “indulgencia, a Spanish word common while they were growing up, when Spanish traditions and beliefs were still quite common.
“Embrace the pains in your life. Welcome them, they would say. “Offer them to God and you will find out later that you wont suffer from them anymore.
For us to understand this way of thinking, one should imagine the sufferings of Jesus Christ as he carried the cross until he was crucified. Many take this for granted. But the Mel Gibson movie about Jesus, I was told, was the most vivid and graphic description of Jesus pain. Some could not leave the movie theater undisturbed.
What my catechism teacher told us when I was a child remains vivid in my memory. She said that the Jews did not merely put a crown of thorn on Jesus head. They pulled it down so hard the spiky thorns cut his skin until blood poured down from his wounds. They scoured him at the pillars, mocked and made him carry the cross, then crucified him. Can we withstand such a horrendous fate? Jesus Christ, the son of God, subjected himself to such suffering.
As we observe todays Good Friday, let us emulate Jesus and carry our own crosses with divine love and dignity. – AJ