Monday, February 22, 2016

The Lord is kind and merciful (Ps 103:8)

God’s extraordinary mercy continues to haunt His lost and wayward children who clamor for more assurance that they are not alone in life’s darkness, amidst the trials and battles for justice, respect and equality.  Yet God remains the ‘Forgiving and Compassionate Father’ patiently  awaiting the return of the ‘Prodigal Son.’

“God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. That is his mercy.  He always has patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart,” Pope Francis said in his first Angelus message last March, 2013, a few days after his election as pope.  Then he urged everyone to be renewed by God’s mercy and become agents of His mercy, so that we become a “Church of Mercy.”

Even Pope Francis’ coming to the Philippines last January 15-19, 2015, was the journey of a compassionate shepherd extending his caring presence to the victim-survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.  In this Holy Year of Mercy, may each one of us bring life to the motto to be “Merciful like the Father!”  This can be done through charitable actions or the works of mercy by which we assist our needy neighbors—corporal wise by feeding, sheltering, visiting the sick and imprisoned, giving alms, etc., and spiritually by instructing, advising, consoling, and comforting, including peace-building and the pursuit of good governance and honest elections.

Let us cry out in Psalm 108: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness; He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness” (vv. 2-3); “as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him, for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust” (vv. 13-14).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Engagement with the Eucharist

For so long we may have been engaging ourselves with the daily celebration and reception of the Eucharist that we may have lost conscious awareness of our own relational, sacrificial “giving and taking” mission with others to continue molding a grace-filled, joy-invigorating community living, as Jesus would if He were in our place.
The challenge for us is to keep recalling the mission and death of Jesus as unceasing model of our own dying to self or departure from today’s trends towards selfie-ism, a form of Individualism.  It is actually Jesus who engages Himself with us, in word and sacrament, that we may remain extensions of His Life-giving gifted-ness to humanity.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis emphasizes how the “Eucharist renews the life of the individual through a reorientation to God in an all-inclusive way.  The Eucharist transforms the whole of our lives because it transforms us—the core person we are—into an ever more alive and alert companion of God in the world.”  The IEC 2016 reminded the participants that “from our participation in the Eucharist, we are sent forth to be witnesses of God’s compassion towards all our brothers and sisters.”

With humble thanks for God’s daily graces, our engagement with the Eucharist will be the inner strength day by day to accomplish our particular task of witnessing and ‘dying to self for God’, as a poem  by Grenville Kleiser put it, “If I can do something today, If I can serve along life’s way, If I can something helpful say, Lord, show me how; If I can right a human wrong, If I can help to make one strong, If I can cheer with smile or song, Lord, show me how; If  I can aid one in distress, If I can make a burden less, If I can spread more happiness, Lord, show me how. “