Fr. Alfredo Ocampo, CP
Renewal through Compassion within our own lives
A renewal of life through compassion calls us to turn from ourselves to the needy and suffering and, with a sympathetic approach, join in their experience of misery and pain. For it is by the personal experience of divine grace and mercy that we are enabled to empathetically suffer with others, whom we are called to see as our brothers and sisters.
In his “Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” Pope Francis indeed reminds us that “mercy [is] the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life,” because mercy is “the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us” (N. 2). Hence, let us pray that, in this Lenten season, we may renew our lives by the life-giving grace that enables us to fulfill the law of divine mercy in our lives through acts of charity, compassion, and solidarity.
In effect, everything we teach about God’s redemptive love must speak of mercy, and nothing we do in the name of Jesus Christ should be devoid of compassion. Let us pray that our Lenten ministries be carried out with compassion, so that our lives may be renewed and become a visible sign of divine love and mercy to others.
Being a genuinely committed Christian implies to take off “the old self with its practices” and “put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of [our] creator” whose compassionate love embraces all, as Paul the Apostle reminds us (Col 3:10, NABRE) . Therefore, as Christians, we are called to renew our lives and relationship with God by being inclusive and compassionate toward all peoples, regardless of their social status, ethnicity, and religious, cultural, and political beliefs and values. For “here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all,” as St. Paul states (Col 3:11, NABRE). Thus, let us pray that, as members of a global community and stewards of God’s creation, we may be given the grace to renew our lives and Lenten promises in God’s compassionate love and through our Christian fellowship.
Renewal through Compassion toward our environment
“Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and ‘take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system’”(Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI, n. 8). Pope Francis’ words urge us to become mindful of God’s precious gifts of our humanity and Planet Earth, which call us to be stewards of God’s creation by taking care of Mother Nature. For “we know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. . . as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8:22-23, NABRE). Thus, let us pray that we may be given the grace to become conscious of and restore the damage that we have directly or indirectly caused in our environment, so that we may minimize the pains we have inflicted on our Mother Nature.
Renewal through Compassion within our communities
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7, NABRE). As Christians, we have mercy as the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ and core teaching of his gospel. For Jesus himself taught us that, one day, the merciful will inherit the kingdom of heaven. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me’”(Mt 25:34-36, NABRE). For this reason, the church encourages us to practice the corporal and spiritual acts of charity, especially during Lent. However, it is impossible to love others and treat them with respect, compassion, and dignity unless we first do it to ourselves, for we cannot give others that we do not have. Let us pray that we may have the grace to see ourselves as God’s beloved children and compassionate Christians who treat our fellow parishioners, coworkers, peers and colleagues with kindness.
Renewal through Compassion through vocations
The New Testament is loaded with texts that remind us of our baptismal call to serve God and our brothers and sisters. Everyone, according to Paul the Apostle, has been received a specific vocation according their given gifts and talents. But the primary duty and goal of our baptismal vocation is to “love one another as [Christ loves] us” (Jn 15:12, NABRE), for that is how we make God’s loving presence manifest in the midst of our sisters and brothers and fulfill our Christian discipleship. That is how the mystery of divine incarnation and redemption becomes true in our faith. For Pope Francis reminds us that, “when faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy” by revealing his merciful love through repented and forgiven sinners (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, N. 3). Hence, let us pray that we may receive the grace to renew our lives through the compassionate expression and fulfillment of our God-given vocation to love one another.
Renewal through Compassion in education
Any intellectual development of our Christian faith and knowledge of divine incarnation and mercy revealed through Jesus Christ should lead us to a renewal of life through compassion.
For, as Christians, “we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began,” that is to say, “‘what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit” (1 Cor 2: 7, 9-10, NABRE). Thus, it is through divine wisdom that we come to learn about God’s merciful love, which in turn enhances our faith and hope in divine redemption. Let us pray that we may receive the grace to renew our lives through compassion as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, the fullness of God’s love and mercy.