Reconciliation with God and society

I REMEMBER then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., our keynote speaker during our 2004 graduation rites as Supreme Court accredited mediators. He told us to think of mediation as peacemaking and reconciliation -- "pasag-uli" in Hiligaynon, which I learned during our Prayer and Life Workshop (PLW) at the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Special Intensive Care Area (MBDJ-Sica) -- between parties in conflict.

Fast forward to this decade, Davide added, "We are to go to the world... this time not just to show love to others and to volunteer to them, but to volunteer to help the world know new hope."

Yes, there is hope. And that much I experienced in a real-life love story in the waning days of 2017.

Poet (gender neutral) Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in Sonnet 3: "Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day's most quiet need, by sun and candlelight."

Our watchword was John 13:34. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

What can be more loving than that? The lovers embraced the Korean word Sarang haeyo (????), which in English means, "I love you."

The lovers were the Catholic charismatics of the LoJ and the PLW with contributions of money and food for the 2017 Prison Break, with the theme #YANLA (You Are Not Alone) prison ministry project. Several Negrenses who are now Metro Manila-based, together with fellow charismatics of the Bacolod-Light of Jesus Family, spearheaded the project.

Bishop Patricio Buzon found the time to wait for his Mass kit to celebrate Mass inside the jail compound. The youth fraternizing and dancing with the inmates.

In means that intercessory prayer warriors accepting the PLW grad topnotchers to join them in fellowship in prayer. It means Sis Riznie Sevilla? hugging the inmates, looking into their eyes, and uttering, "I love you, Brother."

It truly was not the usual mushy Filipino love story of boy meets girl, then break up, and reconcile but radical Christian love. The participants came to express their love for the unlovable, the forgotten or neglected prodigal sons who have run afoul with criminal laws.

That love means practicing Christian solidarity, of valuing our fellow human beings and respecting who they are as individuals. Explains Pope Francis, rejecting the "throw away" mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered "useless."

"We are all one family in the world," says Pope Francis in Sollicitudo rei socialis. Building a community that empowers everyone to attain their full potential through each of us respecting each other's dignity, rights and responsibilities makes the world a better place to live" - including those behind bars.

Love is not lost in the struggle for justice.

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