In his homily at the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis spoke about the depth of God’s mercy: “To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is He who seeks us! It is He who comes to encounter us!” These words show the grandeur of God’s love where His mercy is deeply founded. It is out of God’s infinite love for us that He comes to seek and encounter us in mercy.
It is this thought that convinced me more of the important role that mercy plays in the whole dynamics of Christian calling, its nurturance, and how this call is lived out by the one who responds. It goes without saying that mercy is also at the core of missionary vocation.
Out of God’s love and mercy, He calls a person to follow Him. This is God’s choosing and not of the person’s initiative. We are reminded that it is God’s love and mercy that draw Him to us. It is not the other way around. No matter how good a person is, one’s sinfulness and unworthiness always overshadow it. It is only in His love and mercy that a person comes to share in His love and mission.
Out of God’s love and mercy, we are given the opportunity to cultivate and nurture our missionary vocation. It is out of these opportunities that the person comes to know, love, and serve Him more fully. The lives of the saints have clearly demonstrated this experience of conversion and missionary zeal. In the context of Christian vocation, conversion is never complete without the “going forth” for mission; similarly, “going forth” for the mission will never be authentic without conversion. It is this first experience that inspires a person to do more for God and others, and persevere in joy and gratitude.
Out of God’s love and mercy, we are drawn to live out a life worthy of our call. Such is the challenge to be witnesses. The experience of God’s love and His mercy will move a person to transcend oneself to be and do more for the world. The deeper the encounter, the stronger the urge to be witnesses to others. Goodness can never be kept; one’s light cannot be hidden from others.
We may have experienced several frustrating and heart-wrenching incidents in the world and in the Church today. Yet, let this love and mercy of God assure us of one thing: God never abandons His people. St. Anthony Claret in his Apostolic Prayer said, “O my God and Father! May I know you and make you known. May I love you and make you loved. May I serve you and make you served…and all of us attain eternal glory.” May this prayer move us towards a deeper encounter with God in our personal lives, assure us of his company, and spur us to shun mediocrity and remain faithful witnesses in each one’s unique ways.
Leo Dalmao CMF
General Prefect of Formation