Christ’s peace 2021
The Philippines will celebrate its 500th anniversary as a Christian nation in 2021, that is, 10 years from now. Hence, our theme is: “Vision 2021: Christ’s Peace throughout the Philippines.”
Two thousand years ago, Christ Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you.” (John 14:27) Hitherto, Jesus’ offer of peace is repeated every time a priest celebrates Mass.
Peace is something which Jesus places in our hands. It is something which we receive. “My Peace I give to you . . . Jesus says. Peace is the gift of God. It’s not something we achieve independently. “Not as the world gives, do I give to you…” We need to be careful, that the peace we pray for, and the peace we build, is different from the temporary peace which is built by war and violence.
The peace that Christ Jesus gives is based on love, truth, justice and nonviolence. Peace is built on trust and confidence, not fear. Christ’s peace is built on honesty and openness. It means beginning a new world, beginning in our midst. Christ’s peace means praying for our enemies. It means forgiveness.
Christ Jesus didn’t say, “My Peace I will give you, at some far-off point in the future.” He said, “I give you my peace . . . ” That’s in the present tense. Part of what we need to do as Christians is to accept Christ’s peace, and then live it and nurture it.
Sad to say, as individual Christians and as a Christian nation, we have not accepted Christ’s peace. This is why there is no peace in our land. Instead, we have chosen the peace that the world gives based on the force of arms, and the law of the jungle “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” We have cast aside Jesus’ injunction: “But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well. . .” (Mt 5:38-40)
Since God has first loved us, love is now no longer a mere “command,” it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us. It is only fitting and proper, therefore, that we publicly manifest, individually and collectively as a nation, our acceptance of Christ’s peace with a commitment to live it and to nurture it through love, truth, justice and nonviolence.
For the national acceptance of Christ’s peace to be authentic and meaningful, this must be preceded by an acknowledgment that we as a nation are guilty. We have failed in so many ways. It behooves us then to humble ourselves before God, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and pardon.
We appeal to our fellow lay faithful and other Christian brothers and sisters across the country to join us to campaign for public national acceptance of Christ’s peace.
We plead with our bishops, priests, particularly the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, to help us in this campaign as well as to include this lay-initiated project in their preparation for the 500th anniversary celebration of Christianity in the Philippines.
This project also implements the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines decree that says: “All sectors of the Church must actively work for an end to the production and manufacture of the technology of death and the arms trade as part of its vision of peace.” (Art. 23:3)
How do we carry out this activity? Through organized prayer and symposia, and most importantly by showing love, truth, justice and nonviolence in our dealings with our brothers. By putting up tarpaulins (5 ft. x 4.25 ft) in every parish declaring: “We Accept Christ’s Peace. We Pledge to Nurture it through Love, Truth, Justice, and Nonviolence. Kung Walang Baril Walang Mababaril.”
Please provide a little space in your car for a free sticker with this message: “I Accept Christ’s Peace, I Pledge to Nurture it. Kung Walang Baril Walang Mababaril.” The stickers can also be put in entrances to malls, department stores, hospitals, schools, churches, banks, restaurants, private and public buildings and residences. This is witnessing for one’s faith.
As this is a nationwide movement, we appeal to you to share in the financial burden connected with this lay-initiated project. Those interested in joining or getting tarpaulins and car stickers may contact either Nandy Pacheco, Telefax 7067280, Mobile 0917-882-6700, Email: nandypacheco@ gmail.com, or Rick Zalamea, Telefax 633-0571, Mobile 0917-809-4659, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Come 2021 what can we say that we have done and what have we become as a nation after 500 years? Isn’t it time for Filipinos to ask themselves: how is it that the only Christian country in Asia is also one of the most corrupt, violent, poor and socially backward? If ever, by the grace of God, we as a nation shall have publicly accepted Christ’s peace, then we shall be the only country in the world to have accepted Christ’s peace. Join us in this faith journey to Christ’s peace. A faith journey is a work of grace, and grace means God will do for us what we cannot do ourselves.
Nandy Pacheco, is a peace mover and former theology student at St Augustine Seminary, Toronto, Canada.
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