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What will we pray for?
Manuel Pajarillo, FSC, Director, Brothers’ Community
Homily for December 12, during former President Aquino’s prayer vigil at DLSU-Manila

In our Scriptures, the prophet holds a singular place of honor or dishonor. To be a prophet was to claim to be the mouthpiece of God, and the consequences for daring to proclaim the Word of God were twofold: either you told the truth and were revered or you lied and you were stoned to death by an angry and betrayed nation.

The truth always went against a corrupt and immoral leader, and a corrupt and immoral nation; the lies always favored the incumbent, and an unrepentant nation. Because you might be killed for it, telling the truth as a prophet called for a lot of personal reflection, discernment and prayer. There could be no margin for error; there was no second chance.

Immediate death to false prophets by public stoning was demanded by Jewish Law and the tradition founded on Mt. Sinai. Hence, it was not simple to be a prophet; you put your life on the line every single time you spoke up. Thus, as a rule, prophets who told the truth and escaped stoning were not popular with kings and rulers, or with the nation when it fell from the ways of the Lord. In both secular and sacred history, where there were prophets, “uneasy lay the heads that wore the crowns”.

Gov. Singson’s revelations nearly two months ago has set off a lot of public pronouncements from genuine prophets, as well as false prophets. While we can no longer stone false prophets among us for lying, we the people remain their ultimate judge under the Philippine Constitution. As followers of the Way, we are called to hear and evaluate their pronouncements by putting these to the acid test laid out by Scriptures.

This leads us to the readings for today. We recognize the prophecy, we see it as the authentic Word, when former President Corazon Aquino calls on us to pray.

The first reading, from the book of Chronicles, echoes her own call - to paraphrase it, “We, the Lasallian Family, upon whom God’s name has been pronounced, must humble ourselves and pray, seek the face of God and turn from our evil ways.” If we do this, according to the first reading, God promises three things: 1) God will hear us from heaven; 2) God will pardon our sins and 3) God will revive our land. The 1st reading continues, “If we pray, God’s eyes shall be open, and God’s ears shall be attentive to the prayer of this place. Much more, God will choose and consecrate this house and God’s name will be here forever. God’s eyes and God’s heart also shall be here always.” Above all then, we are called to pray and turn to God, who in turn will hear us.

What are we to pray for? First and foremost, for ourselves and our conversion. We recognize the prophecy, the authentic Word, when President Aquino says that the Makati businessmen - yung mga plastic daw kasi gumagamit ng plastic na cuchara at tenedor - should think of ways to help the poor. That prophecy is also addressed to us in the academe - our mission and vision as University declares univocally our option for the poor.

Our academic programs are supposed to integrate pro-poor and highly moral values; we declare that compassion lies side by side with academic excellence. Without compassion, we say, academic excellence is nothing but another tool for oppressors to maintain the status quo of injustice and structural violence we already have in our society. Our co-curricular programs include charity wards at our hospitals, micro-lending schemes, extensive scholarships for the poor and marginalized sectors, and our budgets for poverty reduction, community extension programs and social action shows that we put our money where our mouth is.

But the life of discipline of Christ demands more. It always demands more. To give not only of our excess but of our substance. The graduate that De La Salle is genuinely proud of - and many of them end up in the business, industrial, and manufacturing sectors - is one who genuinely cares for the poor and is in solidarity with them. And so this is the call today, this is what we pray for: we pray continuously for our personal and institutional conversion. And for God to lead us on as disciples of Christ, wherever this position may bring us.

What else are we to pray for? The Psalm (Ps. 72) prophesies about a nation’s leadership. A godly leader for a godly nation. The Psalm echoes our prayers for the ruler to be given good judgment, and that his son be endowed with justice - or sons and daughters, as is in our case, (the number of wives and concubines is not mentioned).

If our ruler is endowed with good judgment, the Psalm goes on, the mountains will yield peace for the people, and the hills will yield them justice. Peace and justice for us in the lowlands, peace and justice for our brothers and sisters in the armed struggles in the hills around us. Profound peace and justice. Wagas na Kapayapaan at Katarungan para sa lahat. For, for far too long already has the blood of countless Abels cried out to us from the ground.

Now God declares that the poor shall be rescued when they cry out, and the afflicted who has no one to help him or her will finally be saved. The lives of the poor will be rescued. Sa wakas, Kaginhawaan para sa lahat. We hold God to the Promise, and God is no liar. But first we must have a ruler with good judgment.

So, we are on the right track that Scripture prescribes when we pray for President Estrada, his maybahays, and their many children. Like Mike Velarde who prays for sinners, we pray for the President. We pray that President Estrada have good judgment, and do what is best for the country, whether or not he is judged guilty in the Senate. For the battle at hand is not about Erap alone, or his guilt or innocence. It is a battle for our soul as one people and one nation under God.

But our Lasallian Family Statement last October is just as unequivocal: he must leave the office of the Presidency. The loss of moral ascendancy to lead is the loss of the mandate of heaven. We recognize the prophecies; we sense that the heavens have spoken and the earth beneath us cries out for justice. Estrada has lost the moral right to lead us. Our land is cursed, our fields are barren, our wells dry up, we are shamed before all the nations. We must abrogate the covenant with him. Like Daniel, we see the writing on the wall. Erap has been weighed and Erap has been found wanting. Tinimbang siya, ngunit kulang.

We also pray for the Vice President to have good judgment in these times, for even as we stand here today, history is being forged by our people - in the Senate, but more so on the streets. If and when she is called upon to serve the people of God, may she heed the prophets and be godly in her turn. For where Estrada is, she may yet one day be, but just as Estrada is judged by Heaven today, so will she also be in God’s time. She will have but one chance. Not two, not three. One chance. She must not gamble. For Yahweh who led us out of Egypt will be with us for all time, Emmanuel is God-With-Us. God promises us fullness of life. And God is not a liar.

Fellow Lasallians, on the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness and defender of oppressed peoples on the brink of death, let us heed the call of the prophets today - to pray to God - for ourselves and for a nation that stands under judgment. And let us pray for the President to have good judgment that we may have peace and justice finally reign in our land. Let us heed the prophets and be prophetic ourselves, let us give witness to the Truth, well aware we could be stoned for our efforts. Let us today dare to be mouthpieces of God.

In these hallowed halls, 16 Brothers and more Lasallian Family members, including members of the Cojuangco family, died under the oppressor’s bayonets more than 50 years ago. In this very place where innocent blood was once shed, we are once again called to fight for and defend our country. Let us be worthy of that calling. They offered their lives. We can do no less.

May the Christmas season bring hope, joy, and peace to us all !

DLSU Chorale performs on Christmas eve

The DLSU Chorale invites the members of the Lasallian Community to celebrate Christmas with a Mass at the Most Blessed Sacrament Chapel on December 24. The Chorale will perform at 7 p.m., before the Misa de Gallo.

Relief operations for typhoon victims

The Center for Social Concern and Action donated P10,000 to CALARIZ, a federation of fisherfolks from Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal last November 30. CALARIZ secretary general Cornelio Casipit received the amount for the federation members who were affected by typhoons Reming and Senyang.

Some 260 families in the evacuation center of Barangay Sta. Ana, Taguig also received goods from the relief team last December 4.

Lasallian Senate vigil

TV viewing is available at the COSCA Conference Room, 2-6 p.m. from December 13 to 22 for those who are interested to monitor the Senate impeachment trial. The place can accomodate 15 to 20 persons.

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