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A Missionary Church

The year 2020 is a year like no other with its tragic events and political divisions. Depending on one’s perspective, and with God’s grace, we can still appreciate this year as one of transformation and compassionate servant leadership.

It has been said that the year 2020 brought with it too many tragic events: the rapid global spread of COVID-19 and its ill effects on all of us, the eruption of Taal Volcano, the massive Beirut explosion, the rise in mental health problems, the shutting down of the nation’s biggest network, the passing of bills seen as anti-life, and political divisions. 

During the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, a religious sister asked me to give once-a-month talks to her youth. We thought of session titles that would resonate with what they were struggling with, and how to help them rediscover the love of Christ for each of them.

Back in July, Acting Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Bishop Ambo David held a recollection called, “Looking for and Finding Jesus in Times of Crisis,” an appropriately titled invitation during the pandemic. In one of his posts on Facebook, he said, “In times of difficulty and challenge, the most important act that we can undertake is the act of prayer.” 

I know of a priest who acted on his prayer by mobilizing his basic ecclesial communities and giving them opportunities to engage in reselling businesses to help them have a source of livelihood after many of their members lost their jobs due to COVID. 

In papal biographer Austen Ivereigh‘s interview with Pope Francis during the pandemic on April 8 this year, the Holy Father said, “We have to learn to live in a Church that exists in the tension between harmony and disorder provoked by the Holy Spirit. If you ask me which book of theology can best help you understand this, it would be the Acts of the Apostles. There you will see how the Holy Spirit de-institutionalizes what is no longer of use, and institutionalizes the future of the Church. That is the Church that needs to come out of the crisis.”

The choice is ours. We could consider 2020 as one of the worst years of our life, but depending on our perspective, with God’s encouragement and graces, we could appreciate this as the year which led us to greater transformation and compassionate servant leadership. After all, in every struggle there is a corresponding grace. Hopefully, we have claimed the graces as individual members of God’s Family and as a Church, and acted on them with a sense of mission. Still with grateful and hopeful hearts, we can move forward to the New Year. 

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