STO. Tomas, Batangas, Jan. 19, 2017 – You cannot give what you do not have.
This saying truly applies, especially when it comes to forgiveness, said Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, who gave the homily for yesterday’s Mass on day 3 of the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM4) at the National Shrine and Parish of Padre Pio.
“How true is the saying the forgiven community is a forgiving community. A forgiven Church is a forgiving Church. A person forgiven is likewise easily forgiving,” said the prelate in a Mass celebrated by Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Forgiven to forgive
Arguelles explained the dynamic between receiving mercy and being able to give mercy.
“Indeed persons and communities must experience mercy to become authentic witnesses of mercy, as Pope Francis puts it ‘communities … alive and active in the work of evangelization … [equipped with] ‘pastoral conversion’ … shaped daily by the renewing force of mercy,’” he explained.
According to the prelate, every community and individual must be “witnesses and bearers of mercy after being and while remaining incessantly recipients of mercy.”
During his message, made special mention of how this can be seen in the quality of priest-confessors’ ministry.
“In my 23 years of episcopal ministry, I often remark that priests rarely available to people for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are those with weak faith in and scant experience of mercy. Neither can these be relied on to assist the sick and the dying,” noted Arguelles.
‘True priestly ministry’
Excellent confessors, he said, on the other hand, are “cheerful penitents” and are “willing, eager and ever accessible confessors.”
Citing Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera, Arguelles noted: “’The ministry of confession … is a true priestly mission.’”
The prelate also lauded the violet-clad priests who took time to hear confessions of the WACOM4 delegates throughout the day before the Mass at the venue.
Arguelles said: “The priests accompanying us today spend hours assisting penitents to share the mercy of the Father. They themselves habitually experience the Father’s mercy.”
Some 5,000 delegates from all over the world are in the Philippines for the ongoing WACOM4, which ends on Jan. 20. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)