Monday, March 28, 2016

Fathomless mercy

Celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy on the 2nd Sunday and Octave of Easter in this Jubilee Year of Mercy makes one ponder on the great heart of the Risen Lord that continues to unlock hearts paralyzed by shackles of fear that they be open to the Truth of God’s unending mercy, and thus experience the freedom of God’s redeemed children.   

Our most merciful Savior freely offered Himself as sacrificial lamb of sacrifice to take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses.  Pope Francis, reflecting on the mystery of divine justice and mercy, writes; “God’s justice is his mercy given to everyone as a grace that flows from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (MV21). 

Jesus crucified, who offered himself in perfect obedience to the Father’s will,  has become the model of all saints and martyrs, living and dead, who have cooperated with divine grace to become agents of mercy and compassion in response to the loving Savior’s challenge.  Our sorrow is not for the death of Jesus but for our sins which caused him such suffering, for in the end there is unending joy to feast on from the mysterious certitude of God’s forgiving love and eternal life. 

St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun and messenger of Divine Mercy, wrote this private revelation from the Lord in her diary: “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.  My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.  Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy.  Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity” (Diary, 699).

(Errata:  Please note correction in the name of Chesterton that appeared in the previous issue: It is not Mark,but G.K. (Gilbert Keith), renowned lay theologian and Christian apologist from UK in the 1920’s.)

Friday, March 18, 2016

An inner wellspring of joy

After the Lenten fasting comes the Easter feasting…a triumphal feast of Joy and Thanksgiving!  It’s a time to feast on hope, gratitude, forgiveness, truth, love, peace, compassion for others, the great mercy of God, and the practice of virtues—gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Meantime, the fasting continues, or the battle to ward off negative inner urges such as bitterness, discontent, anger, discouragement, laziness, suspicion, revenge, guilt, and other vices springing from the seven capital sins.

Outwardly, the inner change of heart carries on a face of Amazing Joy.  Inwardly, the Christian experiences an inner well-spring of joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Thus, the title of the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis’ fantastic document on the joy of the Gospel, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ whereby he explains how Christ’s joy is constantly born anew each time the Christian faithful embark on new ventures of evangelization.

In meeting the challenges of today’s world, the evangelizer or missionary takes care to form a heart that remains open to dialogue and to seek peace and the common good in society, particularly in welcoming the varied faces of the poor at the crossroads.  Such a heart impelled by the Spirit learns to empathize with others, as Mary did at the wedding of Cana when she mediated on behalf of the couple.  Her presence truly made all the difference.

So, may Easter 2016 foster an ‘inner well-spring of joy’ within us as we become available servants of God radiating the Spirit’s Joy in amazing ways.  How true had the prolific Christian writer G. K. Chesterton describe the disciple in saying: “Joy is the mark of a Christian.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

No longer strangers

Our good works of mercy—corporal and spiritual, in response to the call of Pope Francis on this Jubilee Year of Mercy and as our Alay Kapwa this Lent may have opened us to cross borders of difficulties and the unknown, and fearlessly face unfamiliar people that God in His providence planned for us to widen our area of service. They may be new faces or new problems with old faces—all these creating percussions that challenge our faith, cultural beliefs and customs.

With humility, we cry with Jesus, “I cannot do anything of myself; I am not seeking my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:19).  To us, God still remains a mystery as He invites us to cross over to deep waters, ‘duc in altum.’ So Jesus is our model in our pilgrimage to go beyond ourselves and be one with our brethren in any part of the world in the common struggle for dignified living and life’s basic necessities.  Pope Francis challenges us to move forward and share our resources with the different faces of the least of our brethren with whom Christ identifies Himself –today’s poor, the migrant and the deprived, even the unbeliever, and encounter in them the living Jesus.

“Our path,” Pope Francis explained, “must take us further so that we live our faith by looking at Christ and in Him we find the Father and brothers and sisters who await us.”  This means surrounding ourselves with people not like us just like the two disciples at Emmaus whose hearts unknowingly ‘burned with joy’ upon walking with and listening to the Stranger on the road that turned out to be their Risen Lord who later broke the Bread of His Body with them at table.  Encountering the unknown turned out encountering the other face of a God who, so to say, roams the unfamiliar streets.

I am reminded of the song “Companions on the Journey” that sings of our togetherness in the journey of sharing life and breaking the Bread of God’s love: “No longer strangers to each other, no longer strangers in God’s House; we are fed and we are nourished by the strength of those who care…We are made for the glory of our God, for service in the name of Jesus, to walk side by side with hope in our hearts, for we believe in the love of our God...and walk humbly with our God.”