2015-12-05 14:54:00

Card. Charles Bo ‘Bring Mercy to a wounded world’

‘Bring Mercy to a wounded world’ Cardinal Charles Bo,  Archbishop of Yangon says in his Reflections and Plan of Action ahead of the commencement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  

Blessed are the merciful  for they shall see God ( Mt  5:7)

My dear Brothers and Sisters  in Jesus Christ, the most Merciful Savior,

I greet all of you as the Church gets ready for a very great extra ordinary Jubilee year of Mercy.  Our Holy Father,  always   the prophet  and the evangelizer to the modern world, has  announced this year of grace with the theme  “ Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful”  (Luke 6:36).The official  proclamation of this year of grace is named  Misericordiae Vultus ( The Face of Mercy).Jesus  Christ is the face of  God, the face that   brought to the world  not the condemnation but  a  saving redemption. ( John 3:16).   When Jesus exhorted his disciples “Go and Proclaim the Good News” (Mt 28:18)  he  is urging us reflect  Jesus  face of  Mercy to all our brothers and sisters. Bring Mercy to a wounded world – that is the message of this Special  Jubilee year.


This extra ordinary Jubilee year of Mercy begins  on the 8th of December 2015   and finishes on 20th November 2016.  This is also the 50th year of  Second Vatican Council that brought so much renewal in the life of the Church.  A  Jubilee  year is a special year of prayer to seek God’s blessings and  His pardon. In the ancient Hebrew tradition the Jubilee  year  which was celebrated every 50 years was meant to restore equality among all the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families who lost   their property and even their personal freedom. The Catholic church has given to the Hebrew  jubilee a more spiritual significance. It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the  possibility  to renew one’s relationship with  God and neighbor.   Following the example of the Vatican II we are urged make our church an open church, a welcoming church, a church that neither condemns nor judges but a Church that is beacon of Mercy in the stormy sea of hatred.

More than ever the world stands in need of  mercy to one another. The world is full of hatred and blood shed  today.  In the name of religion  vengeance killing is  on the rise.  Wars are producing  millions of refugees.   Europe has thousands  of  refugees  pleading for food and shelter. Despite  all good news about elections,  Myanmar  too stands in need of mercy and compassion.  As I write  this pastoral letter, more than 100  poor people have been buried alive  in the landslides in the Jade mines. After five decades of wars, displacement, poverty and migration,  our country needs mercy.  Mercy to those who suffered and mercy to those who  caused those suffering.   Our nation needs healing through mercy.  Christians need to heal this nation through mercy.

Our planet is wounded.  Mercy for our  bleeding planet is urgent.  Through  his  great encyclical on Climate,  Laudato Si  Pope has called for  mercy and compassion on this planet our common home.  We are called to incorporate mercy into  three levels :

·        Seeking mercy and forgiveness at the personal  level

·        Proclaiming  Mercy and compassion to all,  especially those who are weak, vulnerable and the lost

·        Reconciling through mercy  for our wounded planet.

Pope Francis’   guides us :  “How much  I desire that the  year to come will be steeped in mercy so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the Balm of mercy reach  everyone, both believers and  those far away, as a  sign that the kingdom of God is always amidst us.” (MisericordiaeVultus)

1.      Seeking Mercy and Forgiveness  at the individual level:    All  human beings  sin.  But salvation comes only to those who believe in God’s mercy. Judas and Peter committed sins.  Judas did not believe in God’s mercy.  Peter believed in God’s mercy.  No sin is so big. “ Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one  can place limits on the love of God who is ever to forgive” ( Pope Francis). Christ is the  Good Shepherd, seeking all the Lost Sheep.

 Counting on God’s mercy, all of us need to seek Mercy and forgiveness through the Sacrament of confession. It is the sacrament of Mercy.   We need to cleanse ourselves from the sin of  judging others. We need to develop an attitude of understanding.   As we are aware our Buddhistbrothers  and Sisters in Myanmar  have  two eyes of  spiritual attainment :  Mercy and compassion ( Mitta and Karuna). MettaBhavana is a way of developing loving kindness towards all. We need this grace. St Paul affirms this :  Not by our works but by his Mercy we are saved ( Titus 3:5). In this jubilee year, our attitude needs to be one of loving kindness, forgiveness  to those who live with us.  By renewing ourselves  spiritually we are ready to reflect the God of Mercy in our lives. “ Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” ( Mathew 5:7).

 2.     At the parish  and national level :  “ How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and communities  may become islands of mercy in the midst of  the sea of indifference!”  ( Lenten Message 2015).  While so much evil, bloodshed and hatred is brought by handful of evil people in the world today,  thegood people need to bring a culture of Mercy into the world. 

The culture of indifference was nurtured for the six decades in Myanmar.  How many of our people have become victims to this indifference?  In a country of huge wealth,  millions are poor, millions displaced, millions are outside the country.   Justice the sister of Mercy was mutilated.  Now  Myanmar stands at the  threshold of hope.  We seek Mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation  even with the most evil men who perpetrated  these crimes.  Like  Jesus who welcomed the women caught in adultery and  tax collector Zacchaeus  we  too need to contribute towards  national reconciliation. We need to encounter our country men  and women : the poor, the monks, the military and those who rule us.

Some suggestions for Works of  Mercy  in Myanmar

1.      Identify  and encounter  victims of man-made disasters – war, poverty and oppression, visit and bring the message of mercy to  refugees, poor and those who are in prison.  Open the doors of Christ Mercy through regular service to them.

2.     Identify  victims of indifference : old people,  physically challenged people,  people without any support, people  with sicknesses and lonely people and extend  active service of  mercy

3.     Identify  victims of man’s cruelty against man  and women :   people living in war areas, IDP camps, drug affected dioceses, human trafficking, mining areas and

4.     Identify  victims of Spiritual Indifference  : Those who do not access  sacrament of confession, those relapsed  Catholics, hospitals where patients wait for spiritual nourishment,  areas that are not covered by evangelization,  the evangelized becoming evangelizers.

3.     Mercy to the wounded Planet :The Encyclical  Laudato Si  amplified the deep wounds caused to nature through greed.  The poor await environmental justice.   Myanmar is losing its great biodiversity to cronies and their masters.  This land belongs to all. We join hands with all our brothers and sisters in  protecting nature,  showing mercy through exposing  the greed that destroys the wealth that belongs to all.    Church will spread the environmental awareness and activism among its members to show mercy to the  mutilated  earth.

Jubilee doors will be opened in Rome on 8th  December.   Other  important churches will open their  doors to signify that  Church is a welcoming church, not  condemning church. Christ is the door that leads to the father.  Christ is waiting at the door   every day at the door of our heart  to bring Mercy to us :  “ Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any one hear my voice and open the door I will come into  their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me”  ( Revelation 3:20).  Welcoming Jesus through acts of mercy is the door to the world.

Grace is  a gift by God  given even when we do not deserve it ;  Mercy is the  forgiveness given when we deserve to be punished for our transgressions.  Christ has given the great commandment :  Love one self, love others. As Myanmar after election is looking towards a  new nation of justice, peace and human development,  we Christians will renew our  spiritual life  through mercy and contribute towards building the nation  by  becoming messengers of peace to this nation that suffered for so many decades.

+ Charles Maung Bo.,  DD, SDB

Cardinal Archbishop of Yangon.

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