Peace be with all of us

"That’s how we should greet each other after our divisive elections."


On the sixth Sunday of Easter, the Gospel of John tells us about Jesus, who before his ascension into Heaven to stay with his Father is giving his disciples final instructions. He tells them to love one another and not to be afraid as he promises to send them the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ command to love one another is the foundation and essence of all his teachings while his promise of the Holy Spirit is his eternal legacy to his followers. This significant events on this occasion—first the commandment to love one another and second the promise to send the Holy Spirit—are the two greatest foundations of Christianity.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus introduces what should now be the way we greet each other: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is the traditional Hebrew greeting shalom. Shalom signifies more than the absence of conflict; it is a profound and holistic sense of well-being. It is the kind of peace which the world cannot give, but can only come from God.

This gift of peace accompanies the gift of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus breathes into his disciples as he sends them out in mission. Peace is a commodity we sorely need in our world and is absent for far too many. But into this discourse about absence, Jesus reassures the disciples, who were rightly feeling fear about his departure, that they will not be left alone and bestows peace on them. Jesus promises not peaceful lives for their followers but peace unto itself. There is a difference. One can be in so much pain, suffer persecution, or face all forms of difficulty but may be at peace at the same time.

This is not a passive peace. It is Christ’s brand of peace that is active and dynamic. It is this Spirit and peace will propel the disciples and later the church into active discipleship and mission. It is this peace that implies one to sacrifice for his fellowmen even at so much cost to himself. And this kind of peace—that is Christ’s brand of peace can be acquired only by giving out his kind of love as well.

The Son also announces the coming of the Spirit among the believers. During the time between his leave-taking and life in the New Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” The Holy Spirit accompanies the church as it remembers. The Spirit guides the disciples and the church as we think back over what we have experienced of Jesus, and as we seek to let our love for him show up in the ways we relate to others. The Spirit helps disciples to understand Jesus and his word and to love Jesus by keeping his word on behalf of the world.

More than ever, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the peace of Christ to reign in our hearts. We, too need this brand of peace and guidance to survive in this topsy turvy world of indifference, isolation and turmoil, within and without ourselves. We need this for our country.

Is it too much to hope that our newly elected officials of government and those now governing us work hard so that peace and reconciliation happens? Or as the latest development in the Bikoy saga seems to imply, are we in for another round of harassment against the opposition?

Frankly, I never believed in those Bikoy videos as I saw them as election-related propaganda. And when Mr. Advincula came out and revealed himself in the office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and with his background as someone who had been charged and convicted with estafa disclosed, it seemed clear that his tales were tall, all lies. His is a case where the rule cited by Presidential Spokesman Sal Panelo is completely applicable: “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” meaning “false in one thing, false in everything.”  So please, enough of these lies so the country can find peace.

Is it also too much to ask the military and the police to stop redtagging? They tried very hard to destroy the Makabayan bloc in the last elections and the people fought back and rejected that, returning six of them to the House of Representatives.

I am particularly happy that Bayan Muna has been able to garner three seats and will be led again by my brilliant fellow Mindanawon Carlos Isagani Zarate, together with government workers’ union leader Ferdinand Gaite, and for the first time for Bayan Muna, a Lumad—Eufemia Cullamat—who has had the direct experience of relatives being killed and communities destroyed in the anti-insurgency campaign. I am very excited to have a Lumad like Eufemia in Congress. Her voice is unique and must be heard.

I welcome also the reelection of Gabriela and ACT-Teachers Representatives and especially Sarah Elago of Kabataan who was indefatigable in the campaign. The lesson in the resilience of the Makabayan bloc: You can’t defeat idealism, love of country and a commitment to the poor and marginalized.

Peace requires working with these representatives in solving the country’s problems. I hope the police and military accepts that.

Peace be with you. That’s how we should greet each other after our divisive elections.

Facebook Page: Professor Tony La Viña Twitter: tonylavs

Topics: Tony La Viña , Peace , Christianity
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