[Homily based on Luke 4:18-30]
When this chapel was designed, we hoped it would, first, be a chapel for prayer. We hoped it would provide those who come here a venue for conversation with God, in which, gazing at the crucified Lord, we might ask with St. Ignatius, “Lord, if you have done this for me in love, what have I done for you? What am I doing for you? What ought I do for you?”
The second thing we hoped for this chapel was that it would be a stimulus for dialogue between ourselves and the Mindinao world in which we live, between ourselves and the worlds of the Lumad, between ourselves and the worlds of the Muslims. This had a profoundly religious reason. When we think of our faith, we cannot help but think of dialogue. God the Father, gazing on our world of sin, comes into dialogue with us. He speaks a word of compassion, a word of love. The Word is his Son. His Son enters our world in human flesh, and speaks to us. He speaks to us as in the Gospel. His word of love does not just remain a word. It becomes flesh. Through the Spirit he speaks to us in the events of our lives. Through the Spirit he incarnates himself today in our world of Mindanao. In the Spirit we respond to his word. Dialogue: God speaks. We respond.
This great mystery of God coming into dialogue with us by incarnating himself in our world is depicted in the large murals in the back of this chapel. God speaks to us in Mindanao. His word does not just remain a word – distant from our lives. He incarnates himself into the cultures of Mindanao. What the mural at the back to my right represents is the scene in today’s Gospel. Jesus in the synagogue is presenting the program of his ministry, of his being anointed to bring God’s Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed, in the Tausug cultural context (Jn 4:18-19). Jesus is fulfilling an old Isaiahan prophecy in the midst of his listeners (Jn 4:20-21). But the mural asserts that Jesus’ Word is not just spoken and incarnated in Galillee. It is spoken and incarnated in Mindanao. It is spoken and incarnated in the culture and context of the Tausugs.
Now, God’s Word is incarnated in dialogue through us in his Church with the world: In the Spirit, from our world we listen to God’s Word. From God’s Word, in our world we speak. And the world responds. We continue the dialogue of God incarnating himself in our world.
Last week, in the Tausug world, violence exploded first in the Cathedral of Jolo, then in a mosque of Zamboanga. In God’s Spirit, as part of God’s dialogue with our world, we have tried to respond to this violence. We responded with the following statement which appears today in our newspapers. I will read this statement, hoping that we all respond to this unhappy situation in Muslim Mindanao with God’s Word of Love, God’s Word of Peace.
[Statement of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Muslim Organizations, Catholic Church Leaders, and the CEAP to the Violence in Muslim Mindanao]
It is with profound sadness that we mourn
the loss of precious Filipino lives
due to bombs exploded at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo.
Two detonated bombs:
one inside the church during Mass killing worshippers,
one outside the church killing first responders.
Twenty dead; 112 injured.
More recently, two precious Filipino lives
killed after night prayers by a grenade blast in a Zamboanga mosque.
This is, we believe, lethal violence directed not only at
Christians and Muslims, soldiers and civilians,
but at the very dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in the Philippines
where through autonomy and self-determination
their religion of peace, their worship of Allah,
their traditions and customs are preserved and revered,
even as within their homeland and beyond,
they respect and honor peoples of other faiths
all enriching each other as Filipinos under one Philippine flag.
The lethal violence is meant
to sow enmity not only between Christians and Muslims
but more so and especially between Muslims and Muslims
and, misusing the name of the God of compassion and peace,
to force people anew
to anger, revenge, hatred, violence and killing.
The violence intends to empower though bloodshed and death
factions who arrogate Islam to themselves
and substitute their weak human will
for the Will of the Almighty and All-Powerful.
We mourn the death of those killed; we suffer with those injured;
we grieve with their families and friends.
But we refuse to let this lethal violence
kill the dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in Mindanao of peace and prosperity.
We refuse to let the will of a few naysayers
overwhelm the powerful majority
that voted yes to the dream of the Bangsamoro for lasting peace,
yes to a bright future for the empowered Bangsamoro youth,
yes to a prosperous and educated Bangsamoro
where democratic discussion and debate
replace the despotic tyranny of guns and violence,
yes to a future where the preserved identities of tribes
strengthen and not weaken, enrich and not emaciate
the integrating Bangsamoro,
and yes to a Bangsamoro that is respected and embraced in the Philippine Republic
as it respects and embraces all Filipinos.
We call on our fellow Filipinos therefore to recognize, cherish
and defend the yes that has been clearly spoken
and implement what has been legislated by Congress
and ratified by the People
in the Bangsamoro Organic Law for Muslim Mindanao.
We call on our President to lose no time in appointing persons to the
Bangsamoro Transition Authority
that would help realize the Bangsamoro dream for lasting peace.
Let these be persons of vision and integrity
free from the self-interest of party politicians
who can liberate Mindanao from tribalism and factionalism
and prepare the Bangsamoro for self-governance under the law.
Meanwhile, even as we pray that the perpetrators
of the violence in Jolo and in Zamboanga find remorse and peace
in conversion from their violent ways,
we pray for peace inspired by St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace;
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
Humbly, we pray to you, God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful,
that you will lasting peace in Mindanao.
Bless us. Strengthen us. Empower us.
Make us instruments of your peace.