PASIG City, Dec. 13, 2016 – As Christmas break begins this week for many students, a university chaplain urged young people to seek inspiration from the latest apostolic exhortation of the Pope on mercy to get to know and love Jesus Christ.
“I think the Christmas break offers us a good opportunity to read the apostolic letter of Pope Francis “Misericordia et Misera” (Mercy and Misery),” said Fr. Antonio Elizer Bermejo, University Chaplain of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), as he acknowledged the Jubilee of Mercy has helped the youth be more aware of the works of mercy.
“If the young people read “Misericordia et Misera”, they will realize why we are ‘in the time of mercy’”, affirmed the priest who has had
almost 40 years’ of experience of working with young people.
Simple works of mercy
“I am impressed by the many works of mercy of giving joy to the sick and children,” said Bermejo, who has been working with students since 2009 as the UA&P chaplain and as a teacher of Theology.
The priest encouraged other young people to organize many works of mercy.
“They may be simple ones, in small groups, so that there can be more interaction and the young people can share and reflect on the Christian meaning of the experience.”
“It will help them to gain an attitude of concern for the poor and come out with small but concrete gestures of love, mercy, and compassion for the suffering and the neglected,” explained the priest.
Simbang Gabi: great avenue for evangelization
Underlining the timeliness of the Pope’s letter, Bermejo observed, “Here in the Philippines, Advent, the preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, is practically nil. On the other hand, Christmas parties are already celebrated in big numbers all over the place.”
The university chaplain recognized that “Simbang Gabi is a great avenue for evangelization as it attracts a lot of young people”.
“A number of these people may not attend Sunday Mass, but they take pains to complete the ‘Misa de Gallo’.”
Bermejo saw in this a positive challenge among priests to foster the evangelical and pastoral impact of the Misa de Gallo. “Homilies have to be well-prepared in order to move the hearts of young people,” he said.
“I am impressed by the number of people who come for confession, at least, at the Sancta Maria Stella Orientis Oratory in UA&P. Long queues are formed by young people,” he said, noting that the school has to make priests available from 8.30am to 7.30pm so that people can go to confession. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCPNews)