By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
Last Friday, December 8, Antipolo City celebrated its Feast Day in honor of its patroness. The official patroness of the city is the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The widely held belief, however, is that the city’s patroness is the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage whose image is enshrined in the Antipolo Cathedral.
This is always a big day in Antipolo. Many visitors, tourists, and devotees come to join us in the festivities. The number of those who come for the December 8 event may not match the tourist arrivals during the summer months, but the joy of the celebration is the same. One reason is that the December 8 fiesta marks the start of the Christmas celebration in Antipolo – a unique experience which brings our visitors back to the time when the spirit of Christmas was displayed in our traditions.
During last Friday’s celebration, a colleague in the local government service sector asked me a rather challenging question. He asked:
“Would you favor the formation of a revolutionary government?”
My colleague had earlier shared his observation that there seems to be a growing discussion about a “RevGov,” particularly in social media. He said that while he would respect any move on the part of the President regarding such a government, he felt that most would prefer a “less radical approach to change.”
I expressed the confidence that the President and his advisers would be weighing the options well regarding this issue.
Then, I said, “From a personal perspective, I believe that the only revolution worth pursuing is the revolution within ourselves.”
The statement was not an original. I must have read this somewhere while in college. Still, the idea is timely – especially in the season of Christmas.
That idea refers to a timeless principle – that all change should begin from within us.
The advocates of the idea have pointed out over the centuries that external revolutions – including the technological and industrial kind – may not be meaningful unless a profound change begins from within the members of an organization or society as a whole.
More recent “revolutionaries” like our very own Dr. Jose Rizal and fellow Asian Mahatma Gandhi have warned their respective nations about change that is not supported by reforms inside of the human heart.
I believe this was the principle Gandhi wanted his countrymen – and the rest of the world – to appreciate when he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Dr. Rizal expressed in clear terms the need for internal change brought about by education before any political reform. He said:
“My countrymen, I have given proofs that I am one most anxious for liberties for our country, and I am still desirous of them. But I place as a prior condition the education of the people, that by means of instruction and industry, our country may have an individuality of its own and make itself worthy of these liberties.”
In my book, both Dr. Rizal and Gandhi are the personifications of true revolutionaries.
Before both of them were born, there was one more revolutionary who rocked the world, altered the course of history, and left a permanent imprint on humanity.
He is the Son of the Virgin of Peace and Good Voyage, the offspring of the Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
I believe that Jesus’ core message was that – revolution from within. He conveyed that message in one powerful word: “Repent”. The word does not merely mean turning one’s back on sin but making a 180-degree turn in life and walking another path.
St. Paul, perhaps, had one of the most profound understanding of Christ’s idea of a “true revolution.”
St. Paul wrote: “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation – the old has passed, the new has come!”
Perhaps, there is no “change” more lasting than when one becomes “a new creation.”
Interpreting Christ’s message of inner change, St. Paul advised the early Christians to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is an echo of the yearning of humanity since time immemorial. That yearning, as expressed in the Psalms and in the book of the prophets pertained to “creating in me a clean heart,” to having a “new and right spirit within me,” to be “made new.”
This season, we invite everyone who is looking for a place to reflect on the revolutionary message of Christmas to come and visit Antipolo.
Let the cool mountain breeze, the serene environment of our many retreat houses and resorts, give you precious moments of silence during which the greatest revolutionary of all time may speak to your heart.
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