Truly, God, in His Mercy, takes care and provides for His flock. For me to be able to join the recent World Youth Day in Krakow is a miracle in itself. He has converted the ‘yes’ into a possibility. I had my reservations going into this trip – with all the chaos going on in most parts of Europe, then as we were nearing our departure via Turkish Airlines, there was bombing in the airport followed by a failed coup less than a week before we leave. The trials never stopped there but with the loving mercy of our Lord, He has went ahead and prepared a way for us.
Everything that comes into our lives is a moment of encounter with God.
From the homily by Fr. Bert during the Eucharistic celebration last July 25, 2016 at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Litomerice, Czech Republic.
It’s not only in the extravagant events or in the ‘fireworks display moment of our lives’ that we encounter God but also in the little moments and sometimes, for us, trivial events that He is there, nudging us, knocking in our hearts, presenting Himself to be recognized by our soul. And it is easy to be distracted and to not see God in the midst of the noise and the activities, with the world presenting you with so much diversions, with sceneries and oh the potatoes. When we were reminded that we were there as pilgrims and not as tourists, I set my heart to be just that, a pilgrim. But the struggle was real! You wanted to sleep in, you wanted to see places and explore the town not in the itinerary, you wanted to try different kinds of local cuisine not part of the itinerary – and then you were checked-in somewhere far with the trees towering over you and not much people in sight, one even literally in the mountains, and you were surrounded with different kinds of people you have to keep up with. What does a pilgrim do, anyway? I asked myself that. We went to churches but admired the architecture first before setting our hearts into why we’re in the church on the first place. Our oohs and ahs for the sculptures and paintings first before bowing down in prayer and in awe in front of His holy altar. We went around buildings and streets admiring what the eyes saw but struggled to keep up with the history of each, which were really beautiful. We struggled to be a pilgrim but felt so at ease with being tourists going around taking pictures. Yet, God saw the struggle and He knew there will be struggles that he aptly grouped us – each one of us – together to remind each other and support each other during this pilgrimage. And whatever experience we have gotten from this trip, from all the celebrations in different churches, the popular missions, the long walks and being drenched in rain, the long bus rides, the people we met, the hassles we encountered, the prayers and vigil, one cannot deny that he or she has encountered God.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:7. The theme of this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow. Pope Francis has also declared the Jubilee year of Mercy coming into that event. God’s Mercy, God’s Face, God’s Love. The Bible never tire of showing us the mercy of God from the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, the forgiven prostitute, the blind who can see, the lame who can walk and the deaf who can hear. God’s mercy is for EVERYONE.
To be merciful is not of our own strength. To be vengeful is. When people wrong us, we demand justice. When someone stepped on our foot, we demand apology. To be merciful is not only about forgiving others when they ask for forgiveness but to forgive beforehand because we are forgiven. And not until we realize, know and believe in our hearts that our Lord has forgiven us our many sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, being merciful is alien to our souls. Truly it is a blessing to be merciful, to know about God’s forgiveness and redemption, to bask in the mercy of the Giver. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, gave praise to whom it is due, to God, who reveal these things to us through the Holy Spirit. That in His extravagant mercy, He refused to leave the people without help, first by sending Jesus to die for our sins, to conquer death and made a way for us to return to Him and then by sending the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts and reveal these truths to us. Without God’s mercy, we would all be wandering aimlessly in this world, destroying our souls and corrupting our bodies which is God’s temple. And so it is by God’s mercy that we know how to be merciful. And it is also by being merciful that we obtain more mercy. It is truly a grace from God that one sees his need for redemption, that one recognizes the mercy given him and that one finds in him the strength to be merciful. And we praise and thank God for His mercies every day.
It is by God’s mercy that I am able to write this post, by His mercy that I found myself in the Neocatechumenal Way, by His mercy that I made it to the World Youth Day and back, by His mercy that I encountered Him, by His mercy that He reveals Himself to us, by His mercy that we live, by His mercy that we praise, by His mercy that we can be merciful, by His mercy that He called us and revealed to us His Truth, and by His mercy that we look forward to life everlasting.