Show God’s Mercy and Compassion

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A monthly column of the Archdiocesan Missionary Movement Committee

Saint John Paul II defined the Church as the Community of Disciples. It was to this Community of Disciples that Christ, before his Ascension, gave the command to preach the gospel to all peoples, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that He had taught them.

This Community of Disciples comprised not only the apostles but also men and women who followed the Master. Throughout the years, the Community of Disciples has grown and continues to fulfil the mandate given at the beginning when Christ ascended into heaven.

The Community of Disciples today consists of:

  • The Bishops (successors to the apostles)
  • Priests (helpers of the Bishops)
  • Order of Deacons (instituted at the beginning of the Church)
  • Lay Men and Women

It is not only the Bishops, Priests and Deacons who are called to fulfil the initial missionary command of Jesus, but the whole community. Every person who has been baptised into Christ Jesus has, therefore, the obligation to help in the spreading of the Good News and in teaching people to observe all that Christ has commanded.

It is for this reason that I have called on every baptised Catholic in the Archdiocese to fan into flames their missionary ardour. It is for this reason that I have asked every Catholic family to be a school of missionary activity and to have a missionary project of its own.

There are families who have asked what kind of project is a missionary project. There are families who understand mission as leaving one’s country and going overseas. This is a very restrictive view of mission. Mission essentially is to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard or experienced it. And what is the Good News? The Good News is that we have a God of mercy and compassion who loves us and who desires all that is good for us.

Unfortunately, God is not a human being and so we do not see Him or touch Him but God’s mercy and compassion is communicated to others by the mercy and compassion of believers. We are God’s feet and hands and eyes and ears and it is by our speech and our action that others come to know and experience the compassion and mercy of God.

What does it mean, therefore, that every family should have a missionary project? It means simply that every family identify someone or some group of persons who are in need of mercy, love and compassion and that the family do their best to provide this. In every town and every village of this nation, there are shut-ins, there are the aged and very often aged who are abandoned. There is the possibility then for every family to choose a person, an institution, a couple who are in need and provide for them according to one’s possibilities so that these persons experience the love, mercy and compassion of God which comes to them through others.

If every Catholic family in Trinidad and Tobago did this, what a difference it would make to our nation and we would begin to be the gentler and kinder society that the name Trinidad or Trinity suggests.

Archbishop Joseph E Harris

Archbishop of Port of Spain