In the Christian tradition an angel announced the birth of Jesus Christ to shepherds at night in the pasture fields of Bethlehem. With the angel was a” multitude of the heavenly host” praising God: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk. 2:13-14).
Jesus fulfilled these words. The night before he died Jesus said to his Apostles: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn. 14:27). The Apostle Paul simply says of Christ Jesus: “He is our peace” (Eph. 2: 14).
Yet to this day we continue to live in the darkness of unpeace. The most inhuman of massacres has taken place in our region. Weapons of destruction proliferate. Armed kidnap groups prey on innocent people. Assassinations take place. We are no strangers to fear, tension, and insecurity. It took Martial Law and a State of Emergency to restore a semblance of security.
We ask: Why is this so? Because peace is both gift and task. Ultimately it is a gift of God. But it is also our task. It is our task to be peacemakers rather than to be destroyers of peace. That we do not have peace is due to us. We have not done our task.
Peace does not begin with guns. Peace begins in the heart, a heart of respect, kindness, of sharing and understanding, a heart of justice and truth, and as the basis of everything – a heart of charity.
Christmas and the New Year are signals from God to us to work towards that peace from God. We have to seize the opportunity. We begin with our hearts. That is my prayer.
A blessed Christmas and a Happy Year to one and all!
+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato