The founder and first president of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich once said: “It is not enough to be good men and women today because the world needs saints to make a radical change!”
Justice is the most looked up word nowadays according to the Merriam Webster website. It is indeed a phenomenon – a search not only for this word – justice (which is closely connected to peace and reconciliation) but for justice in real life. It is for this reason that we welcome the theme of the 52nd World Day of Peace – observed on January 1, 2019 – “Good Politics at the Service of Peace.” The Vatican’s recent press release underlined every person’s responsibility in politics.
“Political responsibility belongs to every citizen and, in particular, to those that have received the mandate to protect and to govern… This mission consists in safeguarding the right of, and in encouraging dialogue between, the actors of society, between generations and between cultures.” The Pope’s message also emphasizes “trust” for there is no peace without mutual trust. And we know that trust has, as its first condition “respect for the given word.”
Good men and women may give their best in living for justice and peace but saints offer everything they have to reach these goals.
Imagine what a radical change there would be in the lives of millions of people if politicians are totally inspired by God to make a radical choice to introduce Him fully in society through the laws they promulgate, through the projects they propose, being honest with oneself, with others, and with God and using the resources they have, not for themselves or for their families and friends, but for the common good in all fields of life.
They would influence education to human and community development, promote and deliver social justice by working together beyond party affiliation to alleviate poverty and harness an economy of communion to benefit everyone. Justice and peace would no longer be a utopia; they would be a living reality!
We Filipinos have such a rich heritage of cultural values which are diminishing these days due to the spread of unrestrained liberalization, privatization and globalization.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon has created a depersonalized consumer mentality and way of living that does not care much for others. Attorney Josephus Jimenez in his column What Matters Most in Philippine Star (04/17/2017) once proposed the revival of such positive Filipino values, such as “palabra de honor,” the sense of “delicadeza,” the sense of “hiya,” the positive sides of “pakikisama” and “utang na loob,” and the spirit of “bayanihan.”
Jimenez declared: “Palabra de honor” demands in every Filipino a sense of truthfulness and reliability. When we give our word, we have to honor it by fulfilling our commitments even without any legal document.” Our words count more than a notarized contract.
He continues: “A sense of ‘delicadeza’ means that we are conscious that our acts and words will affect others, thus we exercise utmost caution and prudence, avoiding any compromising situations and circumstances… ‘Hiya’ means being mindful of the sensitivity of others, always remembering that family honor and our individual honor are at stake.
‘Pakikisama’ is the spontaneous sacrifices we make to get along with our families, relatives and friends… However, we should draw the line between what is good and what is bad, between right and wrong. ‘Utang-na-loob’ means an abiding or even a life-long sense of gratitude. We should never bite the hand that feed us, never gossip, malign or talk behind the backs of people who care for us, love us and do great things to support us. ‘Bayanihan’ is our sense of community, our natural impulse to help others in distress, and our intrinsic tendency to join our community in the pursuit of common goals.”
We can take a cue from Chiara Lubich on how to be saints by choosing to be agents of change in our time, and from Pope Francis on how to practice our Filipino values by thinking of the good of the entire planet, especially in the battle against climate change and in the fight against injustice and human rights violations in our respective communities.
Chiara may have given us the key to peace, with her advice which the leaders in our divided world can heed – the world does not need good men and women but saints who think and live for the good of everyone…
Looking at the BIG PICTURE is to go outside the box, to leave our comfort zone, to see beyond our noses, to look beyond oneself, to choose what is good, exercising freedom with responsibility. Politics then would not only be at the service of peace but would go hand in hand with social justice, and we could all start building “the new heavens and the new earth” that God envisioned for his people.