The message of Cardinal Charles Bo on PARENTS’ DAY
( It will be broadcast by His Eminence in four languages in RVA, Manila: Burmese, Kachin, Po and Sakaw on 26th. July)
Happy Parents day to all of you.
Today we celebrate the gift of our parents today. As the Pope says, we celebrate their intergenerational contribution to our formation as human beings. Every parent is holy, every parent represents the love of God. The English author Rudolf Kipling has a great saying : “ Since God cannot be every- where, He gave us parents”
Holiness of the family :Pope Francis has regularly spoken about the holiness of family. He will canonize the parents of St Teresa of Child Jesus. One family and three saints. Holy Family! All our parents are saints. They give us life. Pope acknowledges saints are nurtured by parents. “ No good tree gives bad fruit, no bad tree gives good fruit”(Lk: 6:43). God gives us life. It is the parents who make us holy, honest and hard working. Jesus lived with his family for thirty years, working with his parents and growing in wisdom. (Lk: 2:40).
Our parents gave us the most precious gift : Life and Faith. A faith that guides us in this life and lead us to everlasting life. We have many parents in Bible. The first book of the bible opens up with the creation of our first parents. That creation was the outpouring of God’s love for humanity. God was the father. We have great father and mother figures in the Bible. Our Parents are like them.
Fathers : Take Noah – a man who listened to God and protected his family from disaster. A good father always guides his children to listen to God like Noah did. Abraham was the father of the nation, father of faith. God tested his faith many times. But Abraham was unwavering. Today’s fathers face the same tests from the world. Secularism, consumerism, threat to family. They have protected us from all these evils and make us to believe in one living God as Abraham did. Moses was another great father figure. He was a simple man. He could not talk properly. But he led the Hebrew people out of slavery. Our parents, simple but are guided by God, to lead us from all that enslave us – sin, evil. Ultimately we come the greatest father figure of Bible : Joseph. He was the guardian of Jesus, guiding him in his early stages and preparing him to face the world. Our God becomes ‘Abba the Father”. Jesus showed us that our root is in the Trinity. Our God lives in and as a family. For a Christian nothing is more consoling than calling God as “ Abba the Father” ( Mk 14;36, Romans 8:15; Gal: 4:6).
Mothers : Bible is full of them. Starting with our first mother Eve. She was not obedient and lost the protection of God but was faithful in creating a family. Sarah was the Mother of the great nation Israel. Rebekha, the mother of Jacob. Hannah the mother of Samuel. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. All these mothers were faithful to God’s plan despite all great difficulties. Our mothers too help us to grow in faith through their example.
That brings us to our heavenly mother. Mother Mary. Church calls her Mother of God, Mother Most holy. She is the Mother of every one. In dark moments of human suffering she appeared in various places to console and guide us : In Lourdes, in Fatima, in Velanganni and other places. She is our protector.
Love and Gratitude to Our Parents: The whole Bible instructs us that our love for God should be manifested in our love for our parents. The book of Exodus God exhorts the Israelites to “ honor Your Father and Mother” ( Exodus 20:12). That is the fourth Commandment. Another Command is echoed in the Gospel of Mathew : For God’s sake honor your Father and Mother ( Mathew 15: 4). St Paul exhorts that “ “Honor your father and mother”–which is the only commandment with a promise– “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” ( Eph : 6-14).
Threat to Fathers and Mothers and Family : Father, mother and Children, make the earthly trinity. But family is under threat today. Pope Francis has been waging a war against this evil design of the modern world. He is calling forth a significant Synod from October 4-25th in Rome on Family. Pope Francis has sent a clarion call to the world : “Family is the first vocation of all. Family is the mission of every Christian”. Threat comes from Western culture. Marriages are redefined. There is no father and there is no mother in those families. New forms of cruelties are inflicted on children. Their rights are trampled upon by Western life styles. Pope once again says : “ We must reaffirm the rights of the children to grow up with a father and a Mother: Once again the Synodal document ‘Instrumentum Laboris (IL) the role of family is reasserted that the family is in Salvific Plan. “The words of eternal life, which Jesus gave to his disciples, included the teachings on marriage and family” ( No 42)
As Christians we are called to the vocation of the family. Parents make up good family. Efforts are made to destroy the family through weird forms of marriages sanctioned by western countries which are trying to destroy the family. Family and parents are the sacred treasure of humanity. Certain forms of marriage sanctioned by the West, abuse the children’s right. Children have a right to MOTHER AND FATHER. Family is being destroyed today. Family values are diluted. Without them, the whole human race would be endangered. Speaking on the urgency of protecting the family the Holy Father in his address in Manila strongly warned :
Every threat to the family is a threat to Society itself. The future of humanity as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through family. The future passes through family. So protect your family! Protect your family ! When the family is devalued, as it is done now in certain places, it is a loss for society especially to the youth!
Parents are the first evangelizers: Parents Nurture us in Faith : Family is the first university where we were schooled in great values of life. The great professors are our parents. The wisdom of our parents is never overtaken by the best professors in the Universities of the world. Bible realizes this and urges us “My Son listen to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your Mother’s teaching” (Prov 1: 8). What they teach us sustains us from womb to tomb. Vatican II gloriously define this guiding role of our Parents
Parents lead the way by example and family prayer, children and indeed everyone gathered around the family hearth will find a readier path to human maturity, salvation and holiness. Graced with the dignity and office of the fatherhood and motherhood, parents will energetically acquit themselves of a duty which devolves primary on them, namely education, especially religious education
Vatican II : Gaudium et Spes No: 48.
Mother Mary and Myanmar: In the Gospel we see Our Mother Mary in two roles. The role she assumes in Magnifiat. A woman who demands Justice to the poor. A mother who dreams that the ‘ Mighty will lose their power and the lowly will be raised” (Lk : 1: 47-53). A mother who worried about those who are hungry “ God will give the hungry good things to eat” (LK 1: 53) The other mother is the mother of sorrows, with seven spears piercing her heart. Which mother is seen most in our dear Myanmar? A mother of Justice or Mother of Sorrows?
Our expectation from Our Rulers : Be good Parents to whole Nation: Today we in Myanmar remember that in our culture, in Buddhist culture parents are venerated like Gods. And our Rulers in Myanmar traditions were treated like parents. Our traditions enjoined on them the right and duty to promote the well being of all. For fifty years in the dark days, we had no family. When democracy came, we hoped, it would bring the family spirit of all. Great expectations were laid on our President and also on the leader of the opposition : Daw Aung San Sui Kyi. A nation looks up to them to make this nation a true family. They were to be our parents. But after four years, Myanmar is still to be a family.
Threats to Parents and Children In Myanmar: But our economic system is breaking the families. Millions of our youth are outside, away from their parents. We were made poor, kept poor and the burden of poverty broke our family to pieces. Integrity of family is being eroded by the country’s poverty. Family spirit is weak. Most of the sons and daughters of Myanmar are poor. The recent census gives a painful picture how 40 percent of our people are living below the poverty line. And in Chin state and Rakine where the huge number of displacement takes place, poverty is 70 percent. These states are origin of most of the migrants who seek unsafe migration. These unsafe migrations have broken families. In many villages there are only very old people are very small children. Families are further broken by human trafficking in the border towns. Families are broken by lack of education and the need for children to be away from their parents. Families are broken by drug menaces, especially in the border villages where hundreds of our youth have lost their youth and life to addiction. Families are broken in Rakine and Kachin with more than 240,000 displaced people. Families are broken by recruitment of children in to armed conflict. The children of poor families are vulnerable. They are sold, bartered, trafficked and killed. The Apocalyptic scene of Bible is enacted in poor homes where the mothers shed silent tears about their children gone away : A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud wailing. Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were gone. ( Matthew : 2:18). Mother Mary in Myanmar could not be a Mary of magnificat, heralding justice to the weak and the vulnerable. She is the mother of sorrows shedding the same tears of parents whose children are no more with them.
Discriminated Children in the family of Myanmar : Why? We as a nation looked up to our leaders as our parents. But our rulers, have not lived up to our expectations as parents. They have become protectors of a crony capitalism, as the Pope warned in South America “ an economy that has profit as the sole motive”.
Now the world is asking a question: Are our rulers, rulers for all or for a few only. For centuries we have lived together as brothers and sisters. Various faiths lived in harmony. For five decades Myanmar was in the radar of a compassionate world, because its people were oppressed by evil men. But from 2010, even after country opened up Myanmar is again on the radar. There are people who do not want the family spirit to grow. Our leaders, who are like our parents, failed to control narratives of hatred spread by fringe groups owing to religion. War goes on parts of the country. Our brothers and sisters, from all religions and races are affected by this hatred. More than 200,000 our brothers are now internally displaced. True love is restricted among religions through marriage act. Nearly 30 percent of our country men and women, according to the Census, do not have identity documents and are not even recognized as citizens of this country. The family of Myanmar keeps one third of its kith and kin outside the family home. Can a third of the population be orphaned from this family? Who are these people without a name and identity?
The poor, as the Pope, constantly points out is the loser in the economic game. As he pointed out in his recent talk in South America, “ farmers have no land, labourers have no work”. This reality is enacted in our Motherland. The land laws of 2012 have further alienated the farmers from their lands. Companies and cronies continue to reap the benefits of the reform economy. The sons and daughters of Myanmar are losing their traditional land in Myitsone dam, Laputaung and Phkhant mines.
Will these neglected and discriminated children of these great nation get justice from their parents – the rulers and politicians? Will the most vulnerable children of this country : the poor, the marginalized farmers, the ethnic groups, women, handicapped and the human trafficked victims – get their due? Will this nation break the parochial walls of hatred and exploitation and create a family of nation? Will the rulers of this country avoid all temptations to discriminate people on the race and religion but bring about the dream of a family based only on moral character? A dream that was proclaimed decades ago for America by Martin Luther King Jr. : “ I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Will this nation’s rulers accept equality of race and religion and build a family?
Apart from their resolve our leaders need our prayers. We pray for our parents : the rulers.
This year on the parents day we pray for our nation. We pray for justice and fair play that this nation may rise up to its glorious days through unity. Let the parents of this nation make this nation, a nation of freedom, a nation that is not seeking glory of the past, but let our parents of this nation dream of a great country of family of rainbow people. Let us affirm the dignity of diversity but build the family spirit.
Daw Aung San Sui Kyi says:
“Our nation should become our protector. Our government leaders must take
the ethics of Parents in developing this nation. Daw Aung San Sui Kyi has
aptly summarized this role.
” My Opinion is, the greatest reward that any government could get is the
approval of the people. If the people are happy and the people are at peace
and the government has done something for them, that is the greatest reward
I think any government could hope for “
Let us hope and pray for such parents to be leaders of this nation.
Cardinal Charles Bo .