The Courage of Faith
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Just last Sunday, people who were at mass in our Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception were shocked by a loud explosion right at the middle of the homily of our own Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, OMI. A bomb was exploded in a stall across the road facing the cathedral doors. Five were killed, including worshipers, and more than a score were wounded. Other bombs have gone off in neighboring cities, showing that this is not a solitary incident. Last Friday, to show the people’s strong condemnation of this cowardly act, and in solidarity with the victims, , masses of mourning were held and the business community called for a business shutdown.

Action starter: Ut unum sint.

What can we do at these times of uncertainty? The citizens have expressed their concerns, their fears, and their aspirations. Hopefully, the police and military authorities are doing their best in identifying and tracking down the perpetrators of this terrible crime. Hopefully, the local government officials are coming up with more effective prevention measures. Hopefully, the national government figures stop blaming one another and for once, work together against this threat to people’s lives and properties.

It is in times like this that citizens and faithful believers look to the resources of their faith for courage and hope. We can take the attitude of victims and feel helpless about the whole situation or we can stand together and show courage even if just to express our disgust, outrage, and hopes. It is times like these that we heed the voice of the Master, “Be not afraid, I will always be with you.”

One picture from an article about Christian faith-communities in Iraq comes to my mind. These small pockets of believers have been there for generations, amidst the diverse cultural traditions around them. Due to the troubles of the past years, they had to make very serious decisions about their lives. Some immigrated to Europe and America. Others chose to remain and kept practicing their faith even amidst threats against their lives. For those who chose to remain, their source of courage is their faith, hope, and love. They come together to worship, to console, to support one another, and to continue in a dialogue of life with their neighbors.

As we continue fulfilling our roles as citizens of the land, no matter what our religious beliefs are, let us be in solidarity with each others as we seek, justice and peace. The reality of life in the Cotabato provinces is that we are of diverse faiths and cultural traditions living in one land. We can choose to live side by side or live in ghettoes and enclaves. We can work together or against each other. In the ultimate analysis, we are all a people seeking to live our faith in peace.

It is paradox of post-modern times that as we become a global village with access to fast communications and transportation, we also become very protective of our cultural and religious identities. Due to such access there is more mixture of diverse cultures. Some authors would see in this global phenomenon a “clash of civilizations”. I propose that we can view it in another way. Can we see in globalization a “cooperation of civilizations”?

The prayer of the Lord Jesus to His Father is “That they may be one” - Ut unum sint. I see in this prayer of the Lord, not so much a vision of the whole world practicing one common religion, rather I see in this a communion of peoples, no matter what their faiths are. I see in this a communion of peace-seekers who work together and pray together for a world where each one can pursue the common good that is a necessary environment for the enjoyment of personal happiness.