I’ve been trying to look for that “Spiritual Zone” to write something about the Blessed Virgin following a pilgrimage of Lipa churches, as part of the celebration of the June 8 consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Little did I know, it would be our Islamic sisters who would give me an idea of how much we should emulate Our Lady.
While attending an inter-religious dialogue meeting last week, a sister of mine in the Focolare Movement asked Prof. Macrina Morados of the University of the Philippines – Islamic Studies Center (UP-ISC): “Ma’am, I am just curious with regard to Muslim women’s wearing of the veil. Why do you wear them and how do you call your veil?” The professor replied: “We wear these hijabs because we do our best to emulate [the] Virgin Mary. As a matter of fact, the Virgin Mary is the only woman mentioned in the Qur’an and she was called, “Isa ibn Mariam” (Jesus, the Son of Mary) –Quran sura 5 (Al-Ma’ida), ayah17. We, Muslim women, wear this for the same reason Catholic nuns wear their veils — to preserve our purity and chastity as women, in the same manner Mary kept hers for God (Allah.)”This brings me back to my impromptu speech over the bus’ speaker during the pilgrimage. I said, “This trip means a lot to me. While we collectively consecrate ourselves to Mary, do we really emulate her?” I also reflected on the fact that Mary stayed by Jesus’ side, while at that time in my life, I was choosing to face things that are larger than me head-on. I was too self-absorbed to follow Our Mother Mary’s way of being focused on Jesus. I began to ask myself “Who am I?” The universality of her example appeals to everyone who eventually sees, it’s not about what I want, but what God wants — something which I seem to have forgotten.
Yesterday being a national holiday in celebration of Ed’lFitr, it is timely for me to highlight the points of convergence between Christians and Muslims rather than emphasize the diverging view-points of the two religions. It brings to mind what Jesus Christ cried out at the Cross in prayer: “…That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me.” –Jn. 17:21 (RSV)
To our Muslim brothers, sisters and friends: Eid Mubarak!