Last January 17, Monday, almost 5,000 delegates from the Philippines and other countries gathered at Quadricentennial Pavillon, Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas (UST), Manila for the second day of the Fourth World Apostolic Congress on Mercy. From morning to afternoon, various bishops, priests and lay faithful expressed their talks and testimonies on the significance of mercy in today’s world.

Highlighted in this event is the homily of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas. In the Eucharistic celebration at 6:00 in the evening presided by Lyon Archbishop Philippe Xavier Christian Ignace Marie Barbarin, papal envoy to the congress, Villegas reflected on the Gospel proclaiming God’s mercy as the Lord of the Sabbath. According to him, mercy is indeed as Pope Francis stresses, “the face of the mercy of God”. “If you look into the eyes of Jesus, those are eyes of mercy. If you look into the hands of Jesus, crucified, those are the hands of mercy… And yet it so difficult to find mercy in this world”, he said.

Focusing on the current situation of the culture of death brought upon the country, he criticized the people of today saying, “Mercy will challenge to be merciful, and we are not ready. We are afraid of mercy.” For this, he presented the following “fears” of mercy. First, the fear of scarcity, of which according to him, “we are afraid of being emptied, of nothingness in the face of others”. Yet, he pointed out, that Jesus’s life was nothing more but an emptying of the self. He said, “Mercy becomes impossible because prefer to have mercy within ourselves and not share it, afraid that we will lose mercy. That is self-mercy”.


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