As we cross over towards the new calendar year, we also celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, as well as the World Day of Prayer for Peace.
We continue to be in solidarity with those who continue to suffer due to the pandemic and those severely affected by typhoon “Odette,” along with the victims of violence and armed conflicts in Myanmar and all over the world. We beg the Lord for the grace of peace.
Peace or shalom does not only mean tranquility or absence of conflict; rather it refers to the totality of wellness, the fullness of life’s blessings. Ang tunay na kapayapaan ay ang ganap na kabutihan at kaunlaran ng buong tao at ng lahat ng tao. Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, offers us this true peace that the world cannot give. He also invites us to be instruments of such peace. We turn to Mary as our model peace-builder as she teaches us three spiritual virtues: welcoming, caring, and praying.
Mary welcomed shepherds into the stable, where her newborn son lies in a manger. How courageous of her to allow strangers into their shelter, when she and her child were most vulnerable! Hindi niya binalewala ang mga balita at kuwento nila, kundi pinahalagahan niya. The Mother of God “kept all these things in her heart.” Nang humiga ang Sanggol na Diyos sa mabahong sabsaban, para na rin niyang sinasabi sa atin, sa buong sangkatauhan, “Kahit pa anong baho mo, kahit pa anong dumi mo, kahit pa anong pagkukulang mo, papasukin ko ang mundo mo. Kahit naiiba ka, tinatanggap kita, at mahal kita.” By a welcoming heart, Christ reconciled the world to God and inaugurated peace in the world.
Mary showered the Christ-child with her motherly love and care. Yes, the Son of God also needed to be pacified and comforted by the serene face, warm embrace, and tender touch of the Blessed Mother. By being born of a woman, by taking on the frail frame of an infant, the Prince of Peace is asking humanity to care, especially for the most vulnerable ones. Naghahari ang kapayapaan sa pagdadamayan, pagmamalasakit, paglilingkod, at pagkalinga, lalo na sa mga lubhang nangangailangan. Pope Francis enjoins all of us towards a “revolution of tenderness” and a “culture of care.” Walang tunay na kapayapaan kung may ilan sa atin na naisasantabi, napapabayaan, o napagiiwanan.
Salamat sa mga taong hindi napapagod magmalasakit, dumamay at tumulong sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo, sa mga dukha at sa mga may sakit ngayong pandemya. Salamat sa mga nagsasakripisyo para sa ikabubuti ng lahat. Salamat sa mga tahimik na kumakayod para sa ikauunlad ng bayan at ng kanilang pamilya. Thanks be to God for people who help build a culture of care. They are signs of peace for this world.
Mary named her son “Jesus.” This was not only a sign of her obedience to the angel’s bidding that her son be given the name “Jesus”; this was also her act of prayer for Israel and for all humankind. The name “Jesus,” “Yeshua” in Hebrew and Aramaic, is usually translated as a declarative sentence: “God saves.” But it can also be translated as a prayer: “Lord, help!” “God, save us!” “Panginoon, saklolo po!” “O Diyos, tulungan niyo po kami!” Yes, the name that the Blessed Mother gave to our Prince of Peace is a prayer, an ardent plea for divine assistance to intervene in our world.
Prayer is the most fundamental act of peace-building. Peace can only come from God. It cannot be produced by mere human achievement. Kahit anong pagpupunyagi natin, kapag wala ang Diyos sa mga pagsisikap natin para sa kapayapaan, hahantong lamang iyon sa bulaang kaginhawaan at kawalang-katarungan, sa panandaliang katiwasayan para sa iilang tao lamang. Kailangan natin ang Diyos upang magkaroon ng tunay na kapayapaan at kabutihan para sa lahat. We need God to offer us the peace that this world cannot give.
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people of good will!” Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is God to us. Let the spirit of welcoming, caring, and praying be our resolution for this New Year. In this year 2022, may the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace.
Arzobispado de Manila, 31 December 2021
+JOSE F. CARDINAL ADVINCULA
Archbishop of Manila