In the Philippines, Year 2020 is the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples. How can we be one with our fellowmen from other sects, religions and tribes? We are reminded to focus on what binds us, and to live in the love of God, in unity amidst diversity.
PUBLISHED ONFeb 2020
Next to the Philippines, my favorite place is Assisi in Italy, the home of my patron saints, Francis and Clare, after whom I was named Clarissa. Whenever I visit San Damiano where Clare lived with her community, I feel the Lord personally embracing me with His intimate love and rekindling in me the call to be an instrument of His healing to others.
It was also in San Damiano where St. Francis heard the exhortation of the Lord, “Francis, go repair my Church, which as you see is falling completely into ruin.” He thought at first that our Lord was referring to the physical structure, only to realize that the Church He was referring to was His people. Up to this day, this invitation rings true. He draws us into an authentic relationship with Him and sends us on a mission to build a community of disciples.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) enlightens us, “The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and His Church. Not only is she gathered around Him; she is united in Him, in His body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ” (CCC, 789).
How relevant it is that Pope Francis chose to be named after the Poverello of Assisi. Time and again he has tried to exemplify humility, love for the poor and marginalized, God’s mercy, dialogue and servant leadership. On Sept. 21, 2017 during his address to the members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, he reminded us, “The Church is called to be a place of piety and compassion, especially for those who have suffered. For all of us, the Catholic Church continues to be a field hospital that accompanies us on our spiritual journey. It is the place where we can sit with others, listen to them and share with them our struggles and our faith.”
God summons us to be active participants in rebuilding the Church: “Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).