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 .