Silsilah Advent and Christmas Message 2017
Following the annual tradition of Silsilah to send a message to Christians on the occasion of Advent and Christmas time and to the Muslims on the month of Ramadhan, Silsilah focuses this message now to the Christians in this special time and to the Muslims who journey together with the Christians, especially in Mindanao.
This is the time when the Christians recall the coming of Jesus, the Emmanuel (God among us) born of the Virgin Mary around 2017 years ago. That was the first coming of Jesus that also reminds us of the second coming of Jesus at the end of the times when He will come in his glory to judge the living and the dead. The idea to be judged makes many afraid, but all people of sincere hearts have to prepare themselves with hope because God is a merciful God.
Advent is also the starting time of the liturgical calendar of the Church. Sunday, December 3, 2017 was the beginning of Advent this year. On this occasion Silsilah wishes to remind the Christians to read the signs of the times that test the faith of the Christians with persecutions in many parts of the world and the increasing materialism that gradually is poisoning the real message of Jesus’ love. Many Christians are tempted to forget the message of Jesus to “take up the cross every day and follow Him” and forget that Jesus came into the world to the plan of God’s love.
To the Muslims, Silsilah on this occasion wishes to show solidarity for their pains created by those who use the name of Islam to achieve their plans with an ideology that advocate violent extremism. Indeed good Muslims today are under trial. This can be an occasion of purification and unity among the different groups of Ummah around the world.
We in the Philippines, and especially in Mindanao, are suffering for what we have mentioned above related to the suffering and trial of the Christians and of the Muslims, increased this year with the terrible crisis of Marawi that has brought suffering, hatred, feelings of revenge and many kinds of traumas that are deeper and bigger than the destructions of the buildings in Marawi city.
We in Silsilah have intensified our commitment in this time of crisis around the world and also in Mindanao, but we also move with hope in the midst of so many acts of violence and the spreading of hatred, often justified by the teaching of a specific religion and the historical background. We know that those who move with “evil plans” are still few and those willing to build peace are still many. We do not have to get discouraged. In addition we also see now many initiatives of dialogue among Muslim and Christian communities, many signs of solidarity and stories of friendship in helping each other – Muslims, Christians and indigenous people.
We know also that many leaders among the Muslim and Christian leaders, including from the government and military sectors are advocating “inter- religious and intra- religious dialogue” that Silsilah promotes through the holistic approach of the Culture of Dialogue, path to peace, starting from the spiritual dimension of dialogue as an expression of love convinced that “dialogue starts from God and brings people back to God”.
All the events of hatred and love in the life of the world and in Mindanao urge us to remind the Christians the message of advent and Christmas as a time of friendship and peace and encourage Muslim brothers and sisters to move with more courage to prove with their lives that Islam is a religion of Peace.
It is a time of great challenge for all. It can be a great time for reconciliation. Hopefully we can be able to show to the world that we are united remembering, beyond our differences, the Message of love of Jesus in this special time in preparation of Christmas. -Silsilah Dialogue Movement-