BECOMING MERCIFUL AND EUCHARISTIC IN THE FAMILY
Most Rev. Mylo Hubert C. Vergara, DD, MA, SThD, PaDDS Mass of the Holy Spirit, June 28, 2016
There are three key words in our theme for the opening of our school year: Family, Mercy and Eucharist. Allow me to devote interrelated reflections on each.
The first keyword is ‘family’. Let me start with some straightforward questions. To our school administrators, teachers, non- teaching personnel, and catechists here who are married: How is your married life? How is your love life? Sa mga mag-asawa, gaano niyo kamahal ang isa’t isa? Sa pelikulang ‘Second Chance’, kapag may mabigat na problema sa pag-aasawa, kaya mo kayang sabihin yun sinabi ni Basha kay Popoy (hugot line): “Gusto na kitang iwan ngayon Poy. Gustong gusto ko na. Pero hindi ko gagawin, kasi nangako ako na kahit ang hirap mong mahalin, mamahalin kita. Kahit na nasasaktan ako, susubukan ko pa. Kasi nangako ako. I promised to love you even if it hurts and love you more when it hurts.” To those who are parents here: How have you spent quality time with your children? Do you really know them? Do you really listen to them? May mga magulang kasi na kapag nagtratrabaho, napapakain at nakapagpapaaral ng anak eh pakiramdam nila okay na yun. Then they realize later on when their kids get into problematic situations that there is more to parenting than working and providing material needs for their children. To the students, the sons and daughters here: How is your relationship with your father and mother, and even your grandparents (kay lolo at lola)? Are you really close to them? Have you appreciated their work and love for you? Have you showed them your obedience and respect? May mga kabataan kasi ngayon na sarili lang ang iniisip. Maraming hinihingi sa magulang kahit hindi naman kailangan. Masama pa ang loob kapag hindi nakuha sa magulang ang gusto. Sasabihin pa: “Hay buhay, ang hirap magpalaki ng magulang.” Also, to our dear students, the school is your second home: Do you value your education? Have you studied diligently? Have you even said ‘thank you’ for all the hard work of your teachers and those serving you in your school?
Pope Francis once said: “…the perfect family does not exist; there are no perfect husbands and wives, perfect parents, perfect children or – if they will not get mad at me for saying this, perfect mothers-in-law.” (Cuba, Sept. 22, 2015) And he also wrote: “If a family is centered on Christ, he will unify and illumine its entire life. Moments of pain and difficulty will be experienced in union with the Lord’s cross, and his closeness will make it possible to surmount them.” (AL # 317)
With these statements from our Holy Father, we know one antidote to address problematic marriage and family issues. Obviously, it is the second key word: ‘mercy’, more specifically, to rely on the loving mercy of God in Jesus Christ. The Hebrew word for mercy is hesed which speaks of what one can do for another either by God or any human person. Jesus showed mercy by his suffering, death and resurrection which happens even now as we are plagued by human miseries brought about by our own weaknesses and sinfulness. We can participate in the supreme sacrificial act of Christ if we do our share of love and mercy in the family. So how are we to do it? Let me give you an assignment which you can reflectively do at home or in school. I would like you to meditate on St. Paul’s beautiful letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:4-7). Paul told the people of Corinth, then, that any endeavor must have love as the central driving force. He taught them: “Love is patient…kind…not jealous…not pompous…not inflated…not rude…does not seek its own interest…not quick-tempered…not brood over injury…not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” To guide and test your love for any person, I advice each of you to make it a regular examination of conscience to replace the word love with each of your names and see if this becomes real now and for the rest of your lives (Repeat Paul’s words and replace love with your name). When you have come to terms with how you have loved your spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters, teachers or any one in your life as the years go by, as you build a career, a marriage or family and as you age, retire and die, my hope is that you discover and realize that you have not simply loved but have become love for everyone all the days of your life.
Clearly, if we put Christ, the greatest love of the Father for us, at the center of married life and family life, we have that greatest love that will bind us together, one who will heal wounds and broken relationships.
This leads us to the final keyword of our theme: ‘Eucharist’. It is Jesus whom we celebrate and partake of in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. In every celebration of the Eucharist, and, in every adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we experience the mercy of God in Jesus who is both priest and victim of this central sacrament. That is why the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life (CCC #1324). It should, then, also be the source and summit of Catholic Christian marriage and family life. So we again ask pointblank questions: Do we really value the Eucharist as central to our lives? How come there are parents and teachers who do not go to mass during Sundays? Why do young people drag their feet when going to Church to attend Sunday mass? Yun iba napipilitang magsimba kasi kailangan ng pirma ng pari para sa isang signature card bilang patunay na nagsimba eh yun ngang iba late pang dumating at ni hindi nakikinig sa Salita ng Diyos o sermon ng pari.
Every mass is an experience of receiving Jesus in the broken Word and the broken Bread. This is our communion with him so that what we receive we also give and share with others, especially to members of our blood family and the Christian community, the family of God. Do we realize that the Eucharist challenges us to become merciful to very person we encounter in our lives? Pope Francis puts it this way when we are led to do works of mercy: “In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness.” (Lenten Message 2016) Pagkatapos ng misa, hamon sa atin na ipakita ang awa ng Diyos sa ating kapwa. Baka may kaklase pa kayong di pa kumakain; nag-alok ka man lang ba sa kanya? Marami kang sobrang damit sa bahay, naipamigay mo man lang ba sa mga walang damit sa lansangan? Nabisita mo na ba si lolo o si lola na tumatanda na at maysakit? May kaibigan kang may problema sa pamilya; binigyan mo ba ng oras para pakinggan ang mga hinaing? Mga magulang, tistser at katekista, naglaan ba kayo ng maraming panahon, na hindi napipilitan, para mangaral tungkol sa pananampalataya? Sa ating may mga kaaway o naka-samaan ng loob, nakapagpatawad ka na ba at nakipagkasundo? Pag may nakikita kang mali, nagsasawalang-kibo ka na lang ba o nangangaral sa diwa ng katotohanan? Sa ating lahat na masyadong busy sa gawain sa eskwela at bahay, gaano katagal ang inilalaan nating panahon sa buhay-panalangin? The Eucharist is a sacrament of mercy. Whenever we receive Jesus in every eucharistic celebration, we are called to become eucharist, to become mercy for others.
Let us pray that the Spirit of truth who comes to us in today’s Mass, who guides us in all truth, empowers us to live merciful and eucharistic lives for our families and for the whole Church, God’s family (cf. Jn 16:12-15).