The season of Advent is a path of preparation for Christmas: a good time to reflect on the mission of Christians called to share their faith in a spirit of dialogue also with followers of other religions. This happens as preparations start in view of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021” said a message issued by the Silsilah movement for Islam-Christian dialogue started in the Philippines by PIME Missionary Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra. The message sent to Fides News Agency underlines the urgency of this witness “at this most dangerous time in human history when some religions are used as means of division at the national and international level.
It is also true in the Philippines and most visible in certain parts of Mindanao where some Muslim groups try to change the attitude of others, Muslims and non, who belong to different Muslim groups”.
“This message –Silsilah affirms– is an opportunity to invite Christians to reflect on the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. This great event in the history of humanity is lived amidst many contradictions even by Christians. Advent and Christmas are special times of the year and Christians are encouraged to prepare spiritually. In certain areas of Mindanao, in the past, Muslims shared the joy of Christmas with the local Christians, but no longer”.
The message continues: “the growing deterioration of Christian Muslim relations in several parts of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, must be accepted with sadness but should prompt reflection. Christians during Advent are urged to relive the coming of Jesus who brings his message of love and salvation. If this message is not received today it is because many Christians fail to live the real spirit of the celebration ”.
“Therefore with this message we challenge Christians to ask themselves why they are not faithful to this Liturgical Season. We believe that today more than ever we must reflect on how we bear witness to our faith and how we share God’s love with all people. We wish to say to Muslims that respect, love, and forgiveness are fundamental pillars of Islam which we respect. Certainly, relations between Muslims and Christians can improve: and this is our hope and prayer”.