Three young priests of the Diocese of Paranaque gave a series of recollection on the mercy of God from March 21-23, 2016.
Fr. John Paul del Rosario from Madonna del Divino Amore Quasi Parish, St. James the Great Parish, began the series of talks on Holy Monday, after the 7pm Mass, Fr. John Paul reflected on the “Sacraments as the expression of God’s Mercy”. He made use of Pope Francis’ bull entitled “Misericordiae Vultus” or “The Face of Mercy” to expound the depth of God’s mercy. He quoted “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s Mercy”. He stressed that mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ready to forgive. Forgiveness is God’s concrete expression of His mercy for us. As God has forgiven us so we must forgive one another. This forgiveness can be experienced concretely in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Mercy as a kind of “comforting presence” is precisely the essence of the sacrament, he stressed. He gave a quotable quote which I really liked. “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” Although the topic is something serious, Fr. Raprap made it alive and exciting because he laced his presentation with humor.
“Season of Lent, Season of Mercy”. This is the title of Fr. Kevin Crisostomo’s recollection on Holy Tuesday. He quoted Lk 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” as his starting point. He reiterated the call of Pope Francis in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy quoting him “Today’s world is in need of Mercy, it is in need of Compassion”. One who is merciful cannot be contented or remained in status quo. He is always disturbed by the sufferings of the people around him. He mentioned three Tagalog terms to expound his presentation of mercy: “AWA, UNAWA, GAWA”. “Awa” is rooted in mercy. “Awa” is an experience of the heart. A person’s heart feels the suffering of the other. “Unawa” is to know the person, to cross the walls of indifference and isolation in order to understand the other person. “Unawa” is entering the world of another person, the world of our neighbor. “Gawa” is giving flesh and face to mercy. Mercy must be expressed in charitable action. Thus the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are necessary components in our expression of mercy. Without “Gawa”, “Awa” is shallow. Without “Gawa”, “Unawa” becomes sympathy. Without “Gawa”, “Gawa” becomes gawa-gawa.
Fr. Jonathan Cadiz on the other hand, dwelt on “Sacred Scriptures: Testament of God’s Mercy”. This was on the evening of Holy Wednesday. Fr. Jocadz started by tracing how the Sacred Scriptures came to be. He said, there is first God’s action in the life of the people. The people who experienced the events of God’s intervention in their lives, put them into writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When God entered human history, history became HIS STORY. In the Old Testament, God’s Mercy is understood as a “Faithful Love of God” and a “Compassionate/Motherly Love of God”. In the New Testament it is expressed as “Pity, Compassion, Mercy” Matthew 9:35-36 “Jesus travelled about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every weakness. Then seeing the multitude, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd”. In the New Testament mercy assumed a human form in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. Jesus is God’s concrete expression of mercy. Jesus is mercy!
Truly the first three days of Holy Week was a “mercy-filled” experience!
-Rev. Fr. Ernie Sican, PCJ Parochial Vicar