I write this post with a heavy heart. I’m sure most, if not all, of my fellow Filipinos reading this already know about the recent encounter between the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force and muslim rebels in Mindanao, which left more than 40 people dead.
Actually, according to the PNP, “around 43 members” were killed but “the number could be higher as retrieval operations are still ongoing.” Five rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were also killed during the clashes.
It is a sad, sad time for us Filipinos, and lawmakers are calling for a national day of mourning. It is indeed a time of mourning. The killings occurring just a week after Pope Francis left the Philippines makes it even more tragic.
There have been many reports coming out in relation to the incident, with people in top positions pointing fingers left and right. “Purisima planned it all,” says one of the news headlines, referring to suspended National Police Chief Alan Purisima. People are taking sides and condemning certain government officials based on news reports like these, and I don’t really blame them.
Whatever the case may be though, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that, more than pointing fingers, it’s time to clasp hands — in prayer, specifically. No matter what religion or beliefs you may have, I ask you to join me.
Let us pray (or send out “good vibes” or “positive thoughts,” if you’re not comfortable with “religious” terms). Because, no matter who is to blame for this heartbreaking tragedy, the truth is that there are 40+ souls who need our prayers, and 40+ families (including the families of the Muslim rebels) who are grieving.
So, if you’re a Catholic Christian like me, or from a different Christian denomination, or maybe even a Muslim, (or of no religion at all, but still want to join me), here is a prayer that we can use together during these difficult days, inspired by this prayer for the families of police officers who were gunned down in a coffee shop in the U.S.:
Heavenly Father, we come to you in our need. We come to You with our grief, confusion, anger, disappointment. We know that this is Your world. We know that You have set the rules. Because You love us, You have given us free will, and the ability to choose what is right or wrong. You have created us humans with the capacity to love but also to hate.
Sadly, there is much hatred in this world, in our own country. There is much darkness. There is much division. We don’t understand why all of this has happened — why the slain Special Action Force officers had to die the way they did. There are still many questions left to be answered.
Hear our plea now, O God. We ask, “How can you turn this disaster into something good?” “Is there any hope for our country?” “Will justice be served?”
Through all these questions, we know that You are in control. We seek Your help now, Lord, especially for the families of all those who have died on both sides of the clashing groups.
Through and past the pain these families are now feeling, please show them Your love and comfort. Draw them toward You and don’t let them turn in anger from the only One who can heal their brokenness and pain. We know that You are present for them, O God. In the emptiness of their sorrow, show them Your mercy, Your compassion, Your kindness.
We pray, too, for the souls of all who have been killed — from the SAF and from the MILF. Have mercy on them, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon them.
In a special way, we also pray for all those involved in this incident — especially those in government, and in the MILF and other rebel movements. We pray for justice — Your justice — to reign. May those who are in the position to make a difference in our country truly do so, for the sake of our people, especially those who have no voice, no position.
We can’t see how this tragedy can become something good, but You do, Lord. You do not will such tragedies, but yes, You can use them. We know You can.
Lastly, we pray for Your peace. For peace in our hearts, our homes, our country. We pray for peace especially in areas like Mindanao. We pray for all of us — Christians, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, etc. — that we may see in each other the basic human goodness that only You can create. For it is only when we see each other through Your eyes that peace can truly exist.
Let Your light shine in the darkness, God. Do not let that darkness overcome Your presence. Use us, Your people, to be the bearers of Your light to others, even if it is by “just praying” for others. Amen.
Photo credits: Praying hands by graur razvan ionut | Candles by koko-tewan | FreeDigitalPhotos.net