WACOM IV – Philippines (January 16-20, 2017)
COMMUNION IN MERCY, MISSION FOR MERCY
(CALLED BY MERCY, SENT FOR MERCY)
Throughout salvation history God is experienced as eternal and unending mercy (Psalm 86:15). He is a helper who gives his people hope. His merciful power is benevolent, and makes a faithful and enduring commitment. In the formation of Israel, the chosen people, and the call of the Church, the people of the New Covenant, God has consistently and unfailingly employed his undeserved graciousness to present to the world a universal sign of his mercy.
Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of Israel and the head of the Church, is the incarnation of this divine merciful graciousness. His Paschal Mystery is the summit of the revelation of the inscrutable mystery of His Father’s mercy towards us. His mercy is more powerful than death and sin.
Jesus Christ called disciples to himself, representatives of the Church as a communion gathered by the merciful initiative of God. None of them deserved that intimacy with the Lord and no one in this Church deserves to be part of it. Our baptism, our faith and life of discipleship are fruits of His grace. The unity of all in the Church is sustained by God’s continuing merciful love; we are united in the mercy of God, a communion in mercy!
All in the Church are sinners, prodigal children to whom God runs to meet with mercy and forgiveness. we are to be receivers and givers of the same mercy within this community (MISERICORDIA AD INTRA). St. Pope John Paul II stated this so clearly in his second encyclical “Dives in Misericordia” (1980): “The Church must bear witness to the mercy of God revealed in Christ…professing it in the first place as a salvific truth of faith and as necessary for a life in harmony with faith, and then, seeking to introduce it and to make it incarnate in the lives both of her faithful and as far as possible in the lives of all people of good will” (n.12).
The saintly pope also, seeing divine mercy as object of the Church’s missionary proclamation, said: “The Church, professing mercy and remaining always faithful to it, has the right and the duty to call upon the mercy of God, imploring it in the face of all the manifestations of physical and moral evil, before all the threats that cloud the whole horizon of the life of humanity today.”
Seeing that the absence of mercy in the world unleashes divine wrath (Rom 1:31), Christians must show love and compassion in their hearts to everyone around them; they cannot be unsympathetic to their neighbors in need for the love of God is only found in those who show mercy – 1 John 3:17 (MISERICORDIA AD EXTRA)
DAY 1 (Manila Cathedral)
Opening Mass at the Manila Cathedral. Experience the joy of celebration the Holy Eucharist with all the Bishops of the Philippines, concelebrating with cardinals, Asian Bishops and the clergy. Receive the Papal Blessing of Mercy to the Papal Nuncio.
DAY 2 (University of Santo Thomas)
God is the Father of mercies and Jesus Christ is the compassionate heart of the Father
Compassion/mercy is the name for the unbroken covenant which links God’s actions in the Old Testament and their continuity in the New Testament.
This manifestation of God is incarnated in Jesus who understands that his own prophetic mission is primarily one of mercy and relief of suffering. Jesus always showed his disposition to show mildness and kindness and to have pity. Jesus preached to the poor, offered liberation to the oppressed, gave sight to the blind, and assured people of God’s kindly disposition and season of favor.
The mercy of Jesus expressed itself during his ministry as an abiding readiness to acknowledge the needs of the poor and politically oppressed, sympathy for women and children, inclusion of social outcasts in his company, forgiveness of repentant sinners, healing of the spirit and body, consolation of his followers when they were afraid and sad, and patience towards those who did him violence. The pity of Jesus was aroused by the presence of tired and hungry crowds who are like sheep without a shepherd. Furthermore, the mercy of Jesus showed no partiality to insiders and did not exclude outsiders – the Samaritan leper, the Canaanite woman, the tax collectors; his mercy also responded both to direct and indirect appeals from those suffering – the father of the possessed boy, the mother of the dead boy in Naim, the Roman centurion, etc.
The merciful disposition of Jesus, which always goes back to the heart of his Father, manifested itself most intensely even when violence and injustice was done to him: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
In reflecting on this connection between God’s mercy and Jesus, St. Pope John Paul II said: “Here is the Son of God, who in his Resurrection experienced in a radical way mercy shown to himself, that is to say the love of the Father which is more powerful than death. And it is also the same Christ, the Son of God, who at the end of his messianic mission and, in a certain sense, even beyond the end, reveals himself as the inexhaustible source of mercy, of the same love that…is to be everlastingly confirmed as more powerful than sin” (“Dives in Misericordia,” 8).
The Church is the Body of the Face of Divine Mercy and her mission is to preach the Gospel of Infinite Mercy
Imitation of Jesus who is the face of God’s mercy means being perfect as God is perfect (Mt 5:48). But this perfection is made equivalent with mercy in “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” and is essentially the same unconditional love God shows toward even the ungrateful and the wicked (Lk 6:36). The disciples of Jesus who receive the divine mercy feel joyful and secure in God’s presence. God’s merciful graciousness actually creates a NEW COMMUNITY, which is his universal gift to all people, Jews and Gentiles, those near and those far away (Rom 11:31; 15:9). Mercy is the way God acts towards his people, independent of their efforts. The appropriate way to name God’s kindliness and choice of those to love and forgive is mercy. Mercy is God’s invitation of relationship extended to anyone who is alienated and disobedient. Whether saint or sinner, all receive God’s mercy.
Within the community of saints and sinners, the Church, the performance of acts of mercy is considered a distinct personal charism that enriches the entire Body of Christ. Some have gifts for prophetic pronouncement, ministerial service, teaching, exhortation, providing financial support, or performing administrative duties. As though completing the series of charisms, others have a special gift for doing acts of mercy, and they should be accomplished cheerfully (Rom 12:6-8). Compassion and mercy inspire members of the community to be united in intention, heart and thoughts, and this union is the opposite of attitudes of self-interest, self-importance and status-seeking.
The Church is the community which thankfully knows it has received God’s mercy and experiences a profound change of identity from anonymity, disgrace, sinfulness and darkness to being a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pet 2:9). Such change is both a gift and a task – to receive and to give, to experience and to proclaim, to enjoy and to share the loving mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis, in his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (Misericordiae Vultus, 2015) is quite emphatic about the Church’s role as the dispenser of divine mercy: “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love” (#10).
DAY 3 (BATANGAS)
The Church is a Forgiven and Forgiving Community Celebrating God’s mercy to sinners (Communal Penitential Celebration)
God’s mercy is meant to be experienced and celebrated collectively and individually. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation must be “at the center once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus,17). For every believer of the Divine Mercy, for every penitent, this sacrament is offered as a source of true interior peace that must overflow into all his/her relationships
DAY 4 (BULACAN)
The Lord hears the cry of the poor… Mercy and Compassion towards the Church of the Poor
− Mercy is not an abstract concept; it is not just a good feeling that solely benefits the one who experiences it. Mercy must reawaken consciences, too often grown dull in the face of human suffering and poverty. Mercy is at the heart of Jesus’ Gospel where the poor, the sinner, the sick have a special experience of God’s mercy.
In the Church, the concrete ways by which mercy is given and received is the CORPORAL AND SPIRITUAL WORKSOF MERCY. In each of these “little ones” – the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, etc. Jesus Christ is present and alive. His flesh becomes visible in the flesh of the doubtful, the ignorant, the afflicted, the tortured and crushed…to be recognized, touched, served and cared for by us.
DAY 5 (BATAAN)
The Church is sent to be the presence and witness of God’s mercy in the world. The Perfection that Jesus demands of his disciples: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36)
Pope Francis: “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the mind and heart of every person. The Spouse of Christ must pattern her behavior after the Son of God who went out to everyone without exception. In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action. It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father” (Misericordiae Vultus,12).