PEACETALK: A Christian Prayer on the Day of Decommissioning of Combatants

(Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University and President of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines delivered this prayer on behalf of Christians at the start of the launching rites of the second phase of the Decommissioning of combatants and firearms of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces at the gym of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on September 7, 2019. A Mufti also prayed on behalf of the Muslims and a Teduray on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).

Heavenly Father, the Almighty One,
the God of Compassion, the God of Reconciliation,

Six months ago in Abu Dhabi in the Arabian Peninsula
you moved the Grand Imam of Al Azahr, Ahmed Al Tayyeb,
with Muslims of the east and west,
and Pope Francis, with the Catholics of the east and west,
to declare
in the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who save the whole of humanity;
in the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled
from their homes and their countries;
in the name of human fraternity that embraces all human being, unites them and renders them equal;

in the name, therefore, of all those who have suffered
and died here in Mindanao
to right historical injustices, struggling for a homeland,
for a space to worship according to the religion of one’s conscience
and to determine one’s way of life
according to the richness of one’s culture and traditions,
in the name of justice and mercy,

Almighty God,

you caused the Grand Imam and the Pope to declare
“the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path,
mutual cooperation as the code of conduct,
reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.”

Today as combatants are decommissioned,
the culture of dialogue replaces enmity, terror and war,
mutual cooperation replaces maiming, wounding, and killing,
and reciprocal understanding replaces hatred, ideological othering and the abuse of religion that dehumanizes people and demonizes God.

Even as we recall with sorrow those who valiantly sacrificed their lives
in the struggle for self-determination
or in the defense of a wounded nation,
bless our former combatants with a sense that as they lay down
the arms that they took up to fight a just cause,
they have won the respect of the Filipino community,
and that they now deserve to live with their families in homes of peace, worshipping their God as their conscience impels them,
with their weapons turned into means of livelihood,
and their lives as combatants now turned into lives of
citizens of the nation through the BARMM
dedicated to the common good
and enjoying the fullness of their cultural traditions.

Bless the Bangsamoro People
and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
with the Peace that is
at the heart of Islam,
at the heart of the message of Jesus,
at the heart of our indigenous peoples
and at the heart of our Philippine nation.

Bless all Peacemakers in Filipino society and all here present.
Bless our religious communities.
Bless our President.  Bless the leaders of the BARMM.  Bless the OPAPP.