When the Tara! theme of the Sanggu for this school year was unveiled, some students kidded that it should be said as “Tara to the peripheries!” The OSA and the rest of the Sanggu-HS didn’t mind this at all. In fact, we were happy that the theme captured the imagination of the high school community.
Funny as it may seem, “Tara to the peripheries!” may actually be an effective reminder for all of us. It is easy to say who our peripheries are: the poor we interact with in our immersions, the CSIP institutions that we serve at, the Tulong Dunong kids we tutor, and the street kids in Katipunan that we give some alms to. After all, peripheries mean the outer edges and who else belongs to the outer edges of our society but the poor and the oppressed? Are you sure they are really the only peripheries we should look at? When the Sanggu internalized what the peripheries meant in the high school’s context, they realized that it was actually closer to home.
Everyone is probably up to their ears with K-12 updates. Some of you may have already tuned out after figuring out how affected or unaffected you are about it and you might be asking what in the world K-12 has to do with the peripheries? A lot actually. Because of the sweeping changes that will occur in our school because of K-12, almost everyone here can be considered part of the peripheries: the incoming Grade 7, 8, 9,10 students who will inherit the Junior High School, the current Grade 10 students moving on to Senior High School, and the current Grade 11 students finishing their high school years with an old curriculum but having to adapt to new systems and structures. The changes are not only regarding academics.
Thus, the “Tara!” theme is the Sanggu’s sincere and concrete response to this year’s theme of mercy and compassion and their attempt to exhort the high school community that “Walang iwanan!” is a vital part of mercy and compassion.
All these groups in the peripheries have been targeted by the various formation programs under Student Affairs: Kapisan, Makibaka, Org Fair, PagtatagPo,theRe-launch of the Activity Area, transition plans for class officers and org officers, batch events like L.A.T.C.H., Agora, and Chivalry. All these were done and more are being done in the hope that no one will feel like an outcast, left behind, or worse even neglected.
When all these events were being planned, launched, and executed, where were you? What role did you play? Were you part of the periphery that we reached out to, were you part of the committees who tried to reach out, or did you contribute further to your being in the peripheries? Don’t play the victim here. All of us are called to persons-for-others who are generous in their mercy and compassion.
There are three points for reflection for today. The first one is Pope Francis’ statement about the communion of saints, the second one is about solidarity with whoever is the least in our community, and the third is about deepening of relationships between older and younger Ateneans. These three points may seem remote from this year’s theme of mercy and compassion but actually they are right at the center of it. We do not need to perform miracles to be called Saints.
In fact, we are all called to do little things with great care and concern for everyone, known or unknown, big or small, young or old.
How will we answer the call? If we are sincere in our desire to be generous in giving compassionate service to our peripheries, we need to pray for ourselves. We should not be embarrassed to ask God for things and blessings. It sounds selfish, butit is hard to be generous with your mercy and compassion when you are not grateful of anything. Thus, I would like to offer this prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In praying for our own needs, we improve and equip ourselves to be of real service to the least of our brothers.
O Lord, I pray that in my home, peace, quiet and well-being may prevail under the shadow of Your holy mantle. Bless and protect, O lord, my endeavors, my enterprises, and all those who depend on me and everything that I long for and desire. Banish from my mind and my heart false ideas and evil sentiments. Infuse in me a love of my neighbor and grant me the means to help him. Give me resignation and fortitude of spirit in time of adversity, so that I may rise above the contradictions of life.
Guide and protect, O Lord, my own who are exposed to the dangers and contingencies of the world. Do not forget, O my Jesus, our loved ones with whom we were united in life and whose departure from this earth caused us sorrow, at the same time consoled by the thought that, because they remained faithful to You, You did not abandon them at the hour of death. Have pity on them, O Lord, and bring them to their eternal glory in heaven.