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Invocation: Justice and Freedom

January 25, 2010

By Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, S.J.

Delivered by Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, S.J., president of the Ateneo de Manila University, at the January 26, 1970 opening of the joint session of the Seventh Congress of the Republic of the Philippines

Humbly we stand in Your presence, O God, around the President of our Republic and the highest architects of the laws and policies of this land. With them and through them we pray that You preserve us as one people bound together, despite all party rivalries and class interests, into one indivisible nation with justice and freedom for all.

With us into this hall, O God, we bring the growing fears, the dying hopes, the perished longings and expectations of a people who have lost their political innocence; a people who now know, as they walk through the unsafe streets of their cities or roam through the Huk-infested barrio lanes of Central Luzon, or stare at the dwindling goods and rising prices in the market stalls—who now know that salvation, political or economic, does not come from above, from any man or party or foreign ally; that, in the last analysis, salvation can only come from below—from the people themselves, firmly united under Your divine providence to stand for their rights whether at the polls, in the market place or at the barricades; willing to pledge, against all goons or goldrich bribers, what they have pledged, mutually to one another at the birth of this nation—their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor.

To have lost our political innocence and to know this, and yet not to despair, is for us, O God, to touch and know Your healing hands; but also, for a free people, it is to stand on the trembling edge of revolution. It is a point of no return, it is a moment of truth that can either remake us as a people or unamake us into a mob. Grant us, O God, on the eve of this moment of truth—of our Constitutional Convention, the humility to understand the signs of the times, and the light to know the true state of the nation.

And understanding this, grant us, O God, that we may have the courage of wisdom to forget the past with all its partisan bickerings and recriminations—knowing as we do that each one of us, if not by design or malice, certainly by apathy, cowardice or desire of gain, has been responsible for the ugly things of the past. But above the courage of wisdom, give us the wisdom of courage which is the willingness to pay the price whatever it may be for the rebirth of this nation: truthfulness, hard work, integrity, competence and compassion.

Give us therefore to understand that this and no less than this is the irreducible demand of our people on us—of the youth of the land clamoring in massive thousands outside this building for a non-partisan Constitutional Convention, for a chance to shape the future that belongs to them; of the impoverished masses of our people to whom the President and his Administration, this Congress, and all of us who are better blessed with worldly possessions, must through  a palpable sense of justice, concern and compassion, bring a new gospel of hope, of brotherhood, of a brighter tomorrow that will be shaped by a Constitution moving to the measure of that philosophy that they who have less in life must have more in law, of that philosophy of love enshrined in the heart of the Good Samaritan which for men as well as for nations, is the only way to deserve Your promise of immortality—“Do this and thou shalt live.”—Amen.

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