This September 21, the shrine joins the whole world in the celebration of the International Day of Peace.
In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 36/67 declaring an International Day of Peace. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a new resolution 55/282 declaring 21 September of each year as the International Day of Peace. The resolution declares,
“The International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day…”
Indeed, the World Day of Peace serves to inspire people to embrace compassion, to respect life and to live in harmony with one another. Peace on earth can only become a reality when all people rise above national boundaries, politics, religion and ideologies. We need to celebrate our cultural diversities rather than using them as a reason for conflict.
Peace is an essential element of our life as Christians and devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Peace is one of the chief teachings of Jesus:
“I leave you peace, my peace I give you.”
The peace that Jesus gave us is different from the peace that the world gives. Jesus’ peace is borne out of justice and inclusive embrace of all people especially the poor, the marginalized, the weak, and the abandoned. As followers of Jesus we are called to be vigorous witnesses and advocates of Jesus’ peace.
To be advocates of peace in our country today is to stand up for life and strongly protest the unabated killings that is a daily occurrence in our country today. Most of the recent spate of killings is in line with the government’s war on drugs for which the main victims are the poor. On the other hand, rich drug lords and politicians coddlers of drug suppliers are given the full extent of the due process of law.
Suspected poor addicts and pushers are not the only targets of killing. Political activists, journalists, church people, clergy and Lumads (tribal Filipinos) have also become victims of extra-judicial killings. Extra-judicial killing has no place in a civilized democratic society. No one should be killed just because one’s political conviction is different from mine. The continuous killings makes a mockery of our democratic and Christian society.
As Christians and devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help committed to peace building, we need to condemn the utter loss of respect for the dignity of life and human rights. We are utterly distressed that in a Christian country like ours, the killings is tolerated, even supported. As peace makers we need to question what kind of society have we become, what kind of people have we become? Our country has turned into a big killing field. Death is the order of the day. A culture of killing with impunity is the new normality. To add insult to injury, a culture of silence and a climate of fear has prevailed. In the midst of the daily killings, many people go on with their lives, show no empathy to the victims and accept the government war on drugs as necessary evil.
As devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help dedicated to peace building, it is our urgent moral calling in today’s critical times to resist the killings, defend democracy, uphold human rights and stand up for life.
Through the intercession of our Mother of Perpetual Help, may we obtain the strength to achieve peace in our society today. Like Mary, may we proclaim Jesus, the prince of peace, through our words and action of peace beginning within our family, community, parish and the whole society.