IN THE YEAR OF THE LAITY…
A MONTH FOR MERCY!
Meditation for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus during the Year of the Laity
Responding to the urging of not a few of our lay faithful, men and women – young people among them! – we would like to consecrate this month of June 2014, during this YEAR OF THE LAITY, to the Heart of Jesus.
But urged also by the example of Pope Francis, as well as by the recent canonization of Saint John Paul II, who created the Divine Mercy feast, we would like to focus this month of renewed Sacred Heart devotion to the Divine Mercy, — as incarnated, embodied, symbolized in the Pierced Heart of Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord.
Pope Francis, from the first days of his papacy, has been preaching insistently and passionately on God’s constant and untiring mercy, and on the primacy of the Church’s mission of mercy and compassion. Mercy – both divine and human, — is so much needed today in a troubled, confused, and divided world, with so much brokenness, sin and injustice, with a secularized culture that has no place for God.
Pope Francis speaks of our world’s urgent need to return to the unbounded mercy and untiring patience of God towards sinners, toward our human weaknesses and failures. And “it is Jesus who shows us this merciful patience of the loving and forgiving God.” “It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that … we encounter the boundless love of his Heart.”
The Holy Father also reminds us that we encounter Jesus by living out his compassion and mercy towards our brothers and sisters who are in need of our own compassion and mercy, — brothers and sisters in poverty, suffering, loneliness, brokenness, difficulty and despair.
Like Thomas the Apostle in the Gospel (John 20), our life will only be changed when we touch Christ’s wounds present in the poor, the sick and the needy. . . . The path of our encounter with Jesus is his wounds. There is no other.” (Pope Francis, 3 July 2013)
The Church, People of God and Body of Christ on earth, must thus also become more and more truly “the Church of Mercy”. Where may we then draw the profound grace and spirituality which can and will renew the primacy of Mercy – both divine and human – in and for our own lives and the life of the Church? Christian spiritual tradition; the constant teaching of so many of our Popes; and the lives of the Saints give us one clear and certain answer– from the Pierced Heart of Jesus on the Cross.
This in turn urges us to seek from the Lord a renewed, genuine conversion of heart, and a true reviving and deepening of “the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus” in our lives! This must necessarily involve a renewal and intensification of prayer and devotion in faith and interior life, yes, but it will also call for ongoing earnest, self-sacrificing deeds of love, justice and compassion toward our brothers and sisters. We need to go out from our “comfort-zones” and go forth to give ourselves to others – to “the poor” – in deeds of charity, sharing; in deeds of justice and merciful love.
We are called to consecrate ourselves and our lives anew to the Pierced Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary; earnestly to return to the Eucharist and the sacramental life, and the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Dear faithful people of God, above all – dear lay people, — men and women, adults and young people: Can we make June 2014 of this Year of the Laity a “really special month dedicated to MERCY from the PIERCED HEART OF JESUS”? Can we make this a month wherein by God’s grace the Divine Mercy can fill out our own hearts and lives, can bring conversion into our lives, and through us radiate in some very true way in our communities, our parishes …? A month when we will earnestly ask the Hearts of Jesus and Mary to change us – yes, even little by little – to the likeness of their own hearts, through prayer and devotion, and through deeds of self-giving mercy, compassion, justice and self-sacrifice?
Dear brothers and sisters, our laity and young people above all, what will our response be? The Lord’s Pierced Heart awaits the sincere response of our hearts.
From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, June 8, 2014, Pentecost Sunday
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan