Fortes in Fide

[Homily: Monday of the 5th Week of Easter based on Jn 14:21-26,  Assumption Chapel, 20 May 2019.]

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We have begun a process of strategic planning in the university. Last Wednesday to Friday, some 70 of us from the university and its alumni began to assess how we’ve been doing in the University and to plan where we ought to go.  We did such things as review the statements of the Vision and Mission.  We retained the Vision statement largely, except we underscored that ADDU is ”Filipino” in that it serves Mindanao.  We worked out a total restatement of our Mission.  It was an exciting process that involved not merely corporate planning, but much time for prayer and discernment.

Among our activities was to reflect on our values as a Jesuit school.   These values are often mentioned in our talks and conversations, but unevenly appreciated.  During the stratplanning we took time to reflect and pray over these values.  Some of these:  Fortes in fide – Strong in the faith – our motto at ADDU, magis, truth, humanity, women and men for others, generosity, eloquentia, sapientia, and excellence.    As the stratplanning process proceeds, we will name our core values as a university community.

Today we pray at the  beginning of this Mass:  “Father help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world.”

We pray this because we know that there are many values that do not bring us joy, much less eternal joy.  Lust is one.  We lust in the hope of lasting pleasure.  But the object of lust invariably disappoints.  Covetousness is another.  We are deeply unhappy because we do not have what my friend has or my competitor has.  Honor is another.  We want to be recognized, acknowledged, praised, but it is exhausting.

There are many values that forget that this world is changing.   We value good looks, being admired, being idolized for the ways we look.  But the way we look changes.  And the way people look at you changes as your looks change.   In 19-forgotten I had long, wavy hair.  Now look what happened!  We may have spent many years of our lives building up a marketing company that sells DVD movies.  Today nobody watches DVDs.  Yesterday, everybody went to the movies.  Today the talk is of Netflix.

Our prayer is:  “Father help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world.”

Of the many values that Jesuit schools have like cura personalis, magis, and excellence, participants in our stratplanning activity argued that the most important is:  Fortes in fide:  being strong in the faith.  Being strong in the Christian Faith means being strong in our love for the Father, strong in our intimacy with Jesus Christ, and strong in our sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  It means that in this confusing world we truly believe Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6).

Jesus is the way to ultimate happiness, not isolation, not accumulation, not violence, not corruption, not pleasure.  Jesus is the truth, not ignorance, not lies, not fake news, misleading ideologies.  Jesus is the life, the fullness of human life, not the fullness of oneself, not the fullness of money, not the fullness of power.

Jesus is the way to the eternal Father, not money, not power, not influence.

Our prayer is:  “Father help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world.”  Our prayer could also have been, Father help us to be “strong in the faith– fortes in fide.  As St. Peter wrote in this regard in his first epistle:

“Cast all your cares upon [Jesus], for he cares for you.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, fortes in fidestrong in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:9).

Remain strong in the faith.  The Lord is with you.  In the midst of a rising storm at sea, he approaches, walking on the water, to say, “Do not be afraid. It is I” (Mt 14:27).  In the midst of hunger, he says,  “Take, eat, this is my body.  It is broken for you” (Mt. 26:26).  In the midst of danger, he says, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (Jn 10:11).

It was with faith in Jesus Christ, that Peter in our first reading, recognizing the faith of the crippled man, lame from birth, commanded, “Stand up straight on your feet.” In faith, the man “jumped up and began to walk about”  (Acts 14:10-11).

It is in response to those who in faith keep the commandments of God that Jesus says remarkably, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).  In our lack of faith, we often think of God the Father far, far away from us, up above the heavens, and of Jesus only as a historical figure that lived more than 2000 years ago.

But the Gospel is saying, keep Jesus’ command to love his Father and love one another, and experience the Love of God the Father and God the Son who dwell in you.

We return to our prayer, “Father help us to seek the values that will bring us eternal joy in this changing world.”  Among these values, help us to be fortes in fide, strong in the faith.  In a confusing world, let our faith be strengthened by God dwelling within us.

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By the Sea of Tiberias near Capernaum

Bread of Life 2019[Homily. Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter, ADDU Assumption Chapel, 6 May 2019.]

Yesterday, the third Sunday after Easter, we recalled the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples in John’s Gospel – at the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) in the northwestern part of the lake near Capernaum.

Peter, restless after his having had denied the Lord thrice before he was crucified, says he is going fishing.  The other disciples who were also fishermen go with him.  But in the darkness of that night, they catch nothing.  As the dawn comes, they are  still overcome by darkness, and they do not recognize the man on the seashore.  “Have you caught anything?” he asks them.  They say they have caught nothing.  So the man instructs them to cast their nets to the right of their boat, and they catch so many fish, they cannot bring it into their boat.  The miraculous catch allows them to see the light.  It is John who declares, “It is the Lord!”  Hearing that, Peter jumps into the water to approach him.  They bring in the overwhelming catch of fish.   With the fish, Jesus breaks bread and feeds them.  That occasions Jesus’ three questions to Peter, “Do you love me? “  He who denied him thrice responded thrice, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”  He is then missioned to feed his sheep.

Our Gospel today takes us back from the 21st chapter of John to his 6th chapter where in the Gospel readings for this entire week we will recall an extended conversation between Jesus and his listeners in this same location, near the Sea of Galilee close to Capernaum, that shall cause amazement and awe in some of his listeners, but in others incredulity and rejection.  This is referred to as Jesus Eucharistic Discourse.

It is introduced in John 6 by the account of Jesus having fed 5000 from five loaves and two fish also by the lake of Galillee but some 16.5 km to the southwest near the city of Tiberias.  It is the fourth of Jesus’ eight signs in John’s Gospel. Some comprehend the sign and respond with belief:  Jesus is indeed a Prophet.  Other misunderstand the sign completely and want to make him a king.  So he departs into the mountainside alone.

The disciples however take a boat and begin rowing towards Capernaum.  The sea of Tiberias is not huge – only 16.6 square kilometers.  But this is also not small.  During inclement weather on the sea, waves can rise some ten meters, terrifying for people who are seldom more than two meters tall in boats that are often very light.  The Gospel says that the waves were rising; a storm was brewing.  Then the Gospel recounts how the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water.  It is John’s 5th sign.  The disciples are terrified.  He approaches and says, “Do not be afraid, it is I.”  They bring him into the boat, and they arrive safely at the shore near Capernaum.

Our Gospel says people who had also come from Tiberias knowing that Jesus had not been on the boat with his disciples, had to ask him how he’d gotten there.  They had not seen the 5th sign, Jesus waking on the water.  That question occasions Jesus’ main message for today:

“Amen, Amen I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”

This introduces Jesus’ Eucharistic discourse.  In John there is no account of the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper as in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Instead, we have this profound Eucharistic Discourse.  Everyday this week we will hear a part of that discourse, during which Jesus will explain that he is the Bread of Life.   His teaching will challenge his disciples’ belief.  At its high point, many of the disciples will walk away, never to walk with Jesus again.  When Jesus asks his disciples, “Will you too walk away?” it is Peter who says, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

Perhaps, we should consider Jesus’ questions to Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias near Capernaum on two occasions, “Will you too walk away?” and “Do you love me?” before we respond to Jesus’s invitation at every Mass we attend:

“Take this all of you and eat of it.  For this is my body given up for you.” Take me. Eat me. Interiorize me.  Make me part of your life.  Allow me to nourish you.  Allow me to fill you.

“Take this all of you and drink of it, for this is the chalice of my blood … poured out for you ….”  Why?  Because it is you, you that I love.

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In Preparation for the Holy Month of Ramadan

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[Welcome address: Symposium for Muslim Filipinas to Welcome Ramadan,  ADDU Martin Hall, May 2, 2019.]

Hon. Dalisay Macadawan, Commissioner, Natioinal Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Women Sector
Alim Mohammad Pasigan, the Grand Mufti  of Davao
Mohammed Habeb Al Khulaqi of the Mercy Islamic Foundation
Alim Munib Jamal, the Excutive Director Madrasah Comprehensive
Ada Grace Luspo, Pres. Davao New Moslem Care Center for Women
Deputy Mayors of Davao City of the different tribes:
Natioinal Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Region eleven:
Faridah Yap, vice Pres. Faridaton Nissa
To All Commissioners.
Yoshria Aragat, OIC of the Davao New Moslem Care Center for Women (DNMCCW)/ Organizers and All the Staff of DNMCCW.

 

Ateneo-0933It is my pleasure to welcome you in such great numbers to the Martin Hall of the Ateneo de Davao for this Symposium on Understanding the Wisdom of Fasting in the Month of Ramadan organized by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos under the leadership of Noraida M. Lumaan and by the Davao New Moslem Care Center for Women under Yoshira Aragat!

You come here in the name of God, in the name of Allah.  You come here in the name of your love for God, your love for Allah. You come here as Muslim Filipinos, and today emphatically, as Muslim women, who worship and love one God, and who recognize his prophet, Muhammad.

As a Catholic Christian, I come here to pray for God’s blessings on you and to wish you well, as you gather today to prepare yourselves for the most holy month of Ramadan, the month when God gave his holy Quran to his prophet, Muhammad.  In this month, when divinity and humanity meet in sacred encounter, you are to purify yourselves through such as fasting, prayer, recollection, recitation of the verses of the Quran, alms and good works, all in order to be more worthy of the blessings that Allah bestows on you in great abundance.

Your coming here is a great blessing to Ateneo de Davao and a blessing to all humanity, as all genuine worship of God is a blessing to all those who worship the one God, as it is a blessing to all women and men created by Him with the dignity He bestows on all humanity.

With great humility, I pray that God bless your holy observance of Ramadan, through which you prepare yourselves as earth to be more fruitful in God’s blessings as rain.  I say this in the context of the 22nd surah, verse 5, of the Holy Quran which says:

“… And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [many things] of every beautiful kind” [22:5]

Through your fasting, prayer, recitation of the verses of the Quran, and good works, you prepare yourselves as earth to receive God’s blessings as rain.  You prepare your hearts to better receive his love, you prepare your minds to better receive his guidance.  Through your fasting, you prepare the soil of your garden by removing its weeds and stones;  through your good deeds you plant seeds in the soil, so that when God’s generous rain falls on you, refreshes you, and fills you with life, he transforms you from a dry, parched and barren land, into a lush garden filled with beautiful blossoms  and luscious fruit.

Your fasting and prayer, your acts of purification and submission to the will of the Almighty, do not benefit yourselves alone individually; they benefit society, they benefit, as Pope Francis speaking for Christians from the East and the West, and the Grand Imam of  Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayyeb, speaking for Muslims from the East and the West, jointly declared, the great Human Fraternity, the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of all human beings created by God in his compassion and goodness, created equal and dignified, each worshipping the Creator in the manner through which each responds to God calling him or her to know Him and to do His will.  And so, in the name of God, in the name of innocent life God has forbidden to kill, in the name of orphans, widows, refuges and those exiled from their homes due to war and violence…, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam together call for an end to war and violence – especially war and violence done in the name of religion.[1]

Through your collective self -urification during Ramadan, may all that which is hateful to God be removed from society, especially corruption, deceit, hatred, violence and war.

Since you come here as a group of Muslim women and the Holy Month of Ramadan is about to begin, I ask you to consider the words of Pope Francis and of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar concerning women in our world today:

“It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of plea- sure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights.”

Again, welcome to Ateneo de Davao!  This year, the first year of the implementation of Bangsamoro Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, through your faithful observance of Holy Ramadan, may God rain on us all in Mindanao the great blessing of Islam:  Salaam, Peace, lasting Peace!  Through your faithful observance of Holy Ramadan may Muslim women submit to God’s will for them in winning the Peace!

 

 


[1] Pope Francis and The Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahman Al-Tayyeb, A Document for Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.  Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019.

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“Quality” – for Discussion

fullsizeoutput_274d v2[A contribution to COCOPEA’S Strategic Planning Exercise, Holiday Inn and Suites, Makati, 29 April 2019)]

My apologies for not preparing a PowerPoint.  Recently, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua decried that Philippine Development is too heavily based on PPPs.  He meant PowerPoint Presentations.  I did prepare a matrix based on the COCOPEA commitments to quality in our Roadmap for Philippine Higher Education.  But that is too detailed to present here.  My task is to simply explain “quality” for the purpose of our strategic planning activity.

First, there is no universally acceptable definition for “quality” (Q).  Depending on your context, Q means “good”, or “very high” or “excellent.”  In some contexts it means, “Ivy League” or “Ateneo,” “La Salle” or “UP.”

For the sake of discussion, therefore, the definition of Q must be stipulated.  In discussing Q, we need to agree on a definition of Q.

Second.  In our advocacy for Q and Quality Assurance (QA), we have proposed that in the educational context Q has four essential dimensions:  (1) the achievement of minimum standards set by government [the regulative body] based on learning outcomes; (2) the achievement of excellence versus the minimum standards based on learning outcomes (standards of excellence met in academic freedom); (3) the ability of an HEI to implement its vision and mission (or “fitness for purpose”) and (4) responsiveness to stakeholders.  We have proposed this even for possible legislation.  PAASCU has adopted it formally.  But the national consensus building on Q is still a work in progress.

Third.  Statements about Q need to be verified or assured.  This underpins the whole discussion in education about QA.  It is not sufficient to claim that a school is “world class”;  the claim must be verified or “assured” based on evidence.  There are many modes of doing QA, e.g. PEAC’s “certification,” the ISO, or accreditation.  In the Philippines, the most known and the most stringent mode of QA is accreditation.

Fourth.  QA in the Philippines is now done in the context of the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN) which promotes its ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework (AQAF).  Under the AQAF there are four essential principles or components:

  1. the External Quality Assurance Association (EQAA). The private accrediting agencies are:  PAASCU, PACUCOA, ACSCU-AA which operate under FAAP.  The accrediting agency for SUCs is the Accrediting Agency for Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP); for LUCs it is the ALCUCOA.  These are under the National Network of Quality Assurance Agencies (NNQAA);
  2. The EQAA-Standards and Procedures;
  3. The Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) culture or mechanism;
  4. The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) which in the Philippines is now the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) [Note that the “Q” here is not for Quality but for Qualifications, which normally refers to competencies required for a job.]

In the AQAF, QA necessarily originates in IQA.  This is a necessary implication of academic freedom.

In this context then, QA also means being able to assure local and foreign stakeholders that the claims made about a graduate of civil engineering are in the context of the PQF and therefore comparable to the claims made of graduates of civil engineering in other countries.  This is done through a shared reference framework for qualifications in ASEAN: the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF).

It is good to recall,  “That Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and COCOPEA jointly commit itself to the culture of quality assurance guided by the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network and its ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework and request the Philippine government for necessary funds to support this commitment” (Resolution 7, 2nd PASUC-COCOPEA Conversations, Davao City 2017)

Fifth.  In the Philippines, QA is governed by the “Policy-Standard to Enhance Quality Assurance (QA) in Philippine Higher Education through an Outcomes-Based and Typology-Based QA Category/ies”  (CMO 46 s. 2012).

However, CMO 46 s. 2012 is contentious.  The definition of Q in CMO 46 s. 2012 only considers “very high standards” and “fitness for purpose.”  Critics point out that it does not include “minimum standards” in this definition; likewise, it does not include “satisfaction of stakeholders.”

Sixth.  In the Philippines, accreditation, and for that matter, QA, is voluntary.  This is not only because the government is not equipped to handle the accreditation of schools which involves thousands of very qualified personnel necessarily of high integrity.  It is also because, beyond minimum standards, performance is necessarily voluntary, based on academic freedom in its most profound sense.  The activity which measures excellence in academic freedom is not imposed but voluntary – required in academic freedom.

Seventh.  Voluntary QA must be promoted in academic freedom.

 

 

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Values of a Jesuit School in the Philippines

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[Address:  ADDU Graduate and Law School Graduation. 4.27.19]

Last Easter Monday, all the Presidents of the Ateneos in the Philippines gathered on the 11th floor of our Community.  Part of what they talked about was what it is that makes a Jesuit University Jesuit.  Since you are graduating with the highest degrees of this Jesuit University, it is good at your graduation comes to a close to be reminded of that.

The Ateneo de Davao is Jesuit because of its Jesuit mission and its Jesuit values.

It appropriates the mission of the Society of Jesus.  It commits itself to the service of the faith, the promotion of justice, sensitivity to cultures, inter-religious dialogue and the protection and promotion of the environment.  It is hoped that through your stay at the ADDU you have appropriate something of this mission.

From this Jesuit mission, it celebrates and propagates Jesuit values.  What are some of these? I will list 14 – very briefly.

First.  Strong in the faith – Fortes in Fide, the motto of the Ateneo de Davao University.

Second.  Love for God.  And therefore: Ad majorem Dei Gloriamall unto the greater glory of God.  This is the Jesuit motto:  Out of love for God, you do all unto the greater glory of God. And Primum Regnum DeiFirst the Kingdom of God – the motto of the Ateneo de Naga.

Third, intimacy with the person of Jesus Christ.  This is a great grace we pray for in Ignatian Spirituality: to know Jesus, the Lord, intimately, to know how he thinks and how he feels, and in life to be able to walk with him as a friend.

Fourth, Moved by the Spirit and therefore devoted to doing God’s will.  This means, habitually discerning God’s will.  Seeking God’s light: Lux in Domino – Light in the Lord.  This is the motto of the Ateneo de Manila.

Fifth.  Magis.  “More!”  This is not a quantitative “more”.  But it is a commitment to ever more union with the will of God, even more, union with the Cross of Jesus Christ, in the Love of the Spirit.

Sixth.  Devoted to the pursuit of and transmission of truth.  Why?  Veritas liberavit vos” – “the Truth will make you free.”  – this is the motto of Xavier University.

Seventh.  Insight into and love for humanity.  Convinced of the dignity of the human person.  Therefore, given to the care for the individual, cura personalis.  But convinced also of the dignity of humanity.  Therefore, committed to care for the common good.

Eight.  Therefore,   being women and men for others.

Ninth.  Therefore, committed to justice, esp. social justice.

Tenth.  Therefore, committed to the protection and promotion of the environment.

Eleventh.  Generosity.  Gives in freedom and love.  This comes from St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity.   And the offering at the highpoint of the Spiritual Exercises, Suscipe:  Take and Receive…

Twelfth.  Committed to the service of God and the Filipino People.  Pro Deo et Patria –  This is the motto of the Ateneo de Zamboanga.

Thirteenth.  Therefore, eloquentia et sapientia. 

Fourteenth.  Excellence  –  amdg!

It is our hope that during your stay at the Ateneo you have imbibed some, if not all, of these values.  They are values you are invited to cherish for the rest of your lives.

Once again, on your graduation, congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

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In the Light of the Risen Lord

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[Homily:  Baccalaureate Mass for the ADDU Graduate School and College of Law, 27 April 2019.] 

We gather today still in the excitement and joy of the resurrection!

As we celebrate the happy outcome of the profound paschal mystery, our readings for today help us reflect on their special challenge for you who are graduating from the highest levels of academic programs here at the Ateneo de Davao University.

Jesus’ resurrection invites belief.  In the Gospel according to John, it is the most compelling sign to bring people to belief, to acknowledge that because he’s been raised from the dead, he is to be believed;  because he has been raised from the dead, his claims in his public life were not false.  He did come as “the way, the truth, and the life” (jn 14:6) in order to bring “life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10).   When he said, “I am one with the Father” (Jn 10:30) he was claiming not only integral unity with the Father, but divinity.   These outrageous claims, his enemies had thought, were debunked with the crucifixion and death of Jesus.  But, the resurrection was a clear sign compelling belief, first, in  Jesus.  He was alive, not dead.  Victorious, not defeated.  But also in his message.  His message was not discredited, but confirmed.  Jesus was one with the Father from the very beginning.  He was “the Word with God from the very beginning and God” (Jn1:1).  He did come to bring life, life to the full.  He was the way, the truth and the life!  That life, as the life uniting the branches to the vine, united those who believed with himself and the Father.

But we have to notice from the Gospel according to Mark that belief was not automatic.  It was, in fact, counter-intuitive, even to those who were closest to Jesus.  He appeared to Mary Magdelene.  When she told the disciples Jesus was alive, they did not believe.

Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road.  When they returned to the other disciples to say they had seen Jesus alive, they did not believe.

So when he himself appeared alive to the Eleven apostles, he rebuked them for their disbelief and hardness of heart.  Yet, as we know from the account of Thomas in the Gospel according to John, he called forth their belief.  “Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; reach your hand here and put it into my side,” he told Thomas.  “Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Jn 20:27). Thomas’ response was the high point of John’s Gospel.   He not only confessed, “My Lord!”  More profoundly, he confessed, “My God!” (Jn 20:28).

Having called forth belief, he missioned.  What they believed, that Jesus had the words of eternal life, and whom they believed in, Jesus as God and savior (“Icthos”), could not be kept a secret.  His mission:  “Go into the whole world to proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).

The early account of the disciples going forth into the whole world to proclaim the Gospel is in the book of Acts. Our first reading for today is from Acts.  A man who had been lame from birth for 40 years of his life approaches the apostles, John and Peter, for alms. Peter tells him, “Silver and gold I do not have here, but what I have I can give you:  in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  He helps him to stand, and strength returns to his ankles and feet.  “Leaping up, he stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8).  When asked, Peter proclaims boldly that the person had been cured “in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarean, whom you crucified” (Acts 4:10).  So, many believe in Jesus.  But the leaders, elders and scribes are threatened by this.  They are threatened by this cured paralytic standing in the company of the followers of Jesus the mere sight of whom invited people to believe in Jesus.  They gather and decide to forbid Peter and John to continue speaking and preaching in the name of Jesus. Their reply, “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).  Consequently, we know, Peter would be imprisoned for his preaching (Acts 12) and eventually crucified.

Jesus is risen!  His resurrection invites our belief – not only in Jesus but in the mission he gives us.  Believing, you – graduates of the Ateneo de Davao – are to share in your world your belief in Jesus Christ, one with the Father, the way, the truth, and the life, who came to bring life, life to the full, even when this sharing is misunderstood and opposed.  Sharing your belief in the fullness of human life, you are to be astounded at the power that accompanies your proclamation that in the name of Jesus people are not to be deprived of that fullness by poverty, oppression, social exclusion, social injustice, corruption and war.  Your proclamation is, as Jesus said, to be directed to all, seeking to invite to faith not by your power, but by the power of God, not by the power of your argumentation, but by the power of God’s love.

Thus, by the power of God and the light of the Risen Lord, you are to respect profoundly those of other faiths who in conscience are drawn by God to himself by the profound love we believe God has for all of humanity.  Humbly, you are to accept that others may be drawn to God in ways you cannot fathom, and that from these others there is much you can learn about how full life can be in worship, piety, spirituality, knowledge, industry, and cultural treasure.  In this context, you are to pray not only for believers, but also for those who believe otherwise, and even for those who have no belief, as we have prayed together for them in the light of the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil.

In the joy and excitement of the Risen Lord, use your knowledge to advance dialogue between peoples of different cultures and creeds, Christian, Muslim, Lumad, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jew that in our diversity the one God may be glorified and the human family he created and loves be promoted and advanced.  In this manner may you help spread God’s peace, love and plenty, and live ever more deeply in the joy of the children of God.

 

 

 

 

 

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Winning the Peace in Mindanao

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[Welcome Address:  Winning the Peace, Multistakeholders’ Dialogue on the Philippine Peace Process, Calungsod-San Vitores Hall,  Ateneo de Davao University, 24 April 2019]

In the name of the Ateneo de Davao University and of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Calungsod-San Vitores Hall of the Ateneo de Davao for this Multistakeholders’ Dialogue on the Philippine Peace Process, entitled Winning the Peace.

Ateneo-0305.jpgI welcome all the stakeholders in peace here from academe, civil society, government, international organizations, the religious sector and media in Mindanao.  I welcome especially Sec. CARLITO GALVEZ, the Presidential Peace Adviser and head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU).  I welcome Asec. DICKSON HERMOSO, Co-Chair, Joint Normalization Committee;  Prof.. RUFA GUIAM, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Committee; Hon IRENE SANTIAGO, Peace Adviser to the Davao City Mayor.  I welcome the Most Rev. FERNANDO CAPALLA, the Archbishop Emeritus of Davao. I welcome all of you who have come here in peace.

Three days ago, the Christian world celebrated its most solemn Feast, the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the celebration of Life that conquers death, Light that conquers darkness, Peace that conquers conflict and war.  As Christians rejoiced throughout the world, lethal bombs were exploded in churches, hotels and public places in Sri Lanka killing 321 and wounding at least 500, most of whom were youths and children, a grim reminder that even as we celebrate Life over death and Peace over war in sacred spaces, the reality on the ground is that peace, lasting peace, has yet to be won.

But how is peace to be won?  How is peace to be won particularly here in Mindanao?  That is what we have come here to deliberate on.

Last February 5, Pope Francis representing Christians of the East and West and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayyeb, representing Muslims of East and West, in a Document on Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, declared—

In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity…

In the name of innocent life that God has forbidden to kill…

In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need…

In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries…

In the name of peoples who have lost their security peace and the possibility of living together becoming victims of calamity and war,

In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal…

In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world…

“the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path;
mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; [and]
reciprocal understanding the method and standard.”

In this context the Document upholds:

  • The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace. . . human fraternity and harmonious co-existence…
  • Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which he created human beings.
  • Justice based on mercy is the path to follow…
  • Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully could contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity.
  • Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here transmitting the higher moral virtues that religions aim for.
  • The protection of places of worship … is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements.
  • Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, but this is not due to religions, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due rather to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and price…

Perhaps, as we celebrate the resurrection of hope and peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao through the ratification and incipient implementation of its Organic Law, and consider the challenges of normalization, transitional justice, and the building up a functioning democracy founded in the values and traditions of Islam yet bringing peoples of diverse faiths, differing receptions of faith and multiple ethnicities to live together in a political entity that treasures, pursues and achieves the common good, winning the peace may mean accepting the culture of dialogue as the path, mutual cooperation as the code of conduct and reciprocal understanding as the method and standard

Perhaps, as we continue to search for a solution to a longstanding conflict with Community Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, winning the peace may mean not more revolutionary and counter-revolutionary violence and killing but accepting the culture of dialogue as the path, mutual cooperation as the code of conduct and reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.

Through dialogue, mutual cooperation, and reciprocal understanding may we win the peace through reconciliation that we work at and unity that we achieve.

Once again, welcome to all!

 

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