“So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the Good News and healing people everywhere” (Lk 9: 6).
Today, lots of young people are not so familiar with the Church anymore: they see the Church as an institution with sets of rules: “Do this, don’t do that”, a court that judges people: “You’re immoral”, an old-fashioned organization that still clings to traditional way of looking at and doing things: napag-iwanan na ng panahon! Oftentimes, our perception and understanding of the Church determines our attitude and behavior towards Her, Her ministers and Her mission.
Yet, Luke tells us what the real Church is and what Her mission is according to the will of God. God, when He wants to save us, established a Church, the people of God, as the sacrament and instrument of salvation. “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” (Outside the Church there’s no salvation). It means that if someone is saved, he/she is saved through the Church. The Church is, therefore, the depository of Good News and the instrument of God’s healing.
Depository of Good News: we hardly read and hear good news today in the media. What is news today is what is sensational and shocking, which, in turn, may not necessarily be true. But what truly is good news? When someone tells you “I love you”, isn’t that good news? (Ew!) What if that person tells you “You are important to me!”, will you not be glad? Then, it’s good news. How much more if that someone informs you that your utang is already cancelled, how will you react? That’s exactly what the Church is telling us: God loves us; we are important to God; God cancels our debts when Jesus died for us!
This is why the Church must always talk about God’s love for the whole humanity. The Church must always preach that what is important is that we strive hard to love God, no matter how many times we fail. The Church assures us that we can now approach God because He already cancels our debts. Because Jesus died for us, we can now be saved. We only have to trust God once more, even though we see ourselves as sinful and unworthy, and God will slowly but surely heal us of our wounds of pride and sinfulness!
Instrument of God’s healing: In order to heal us, God employs the sacraments of the Church, especially the Sacrament of Confession. Inside the confessional, Jesus Himself comes down to listen to our repentance and to bring us back to the embrace of the Father. Whenever we say to the priest, “Father, forgive me for I have sinned”, we can hear the words of God, the Father, to His servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate”. You see: once you say to God, “Forgive me”, the Father will say “Let’s have a party!”
My dear friends, the Church is never judgmental to any person. But She is very firm and clear in pointing out what actions are evil and should be avoided, and what actions are good and should be done. Recently, Pope Francis was interviewed and was misquoted when he said: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context”.
Then, Congressman Lagman commented: “Pope Francis enjoins Bishops to temper religious dogma with a merciful and compassionate understanding of the differing attitudes of Catholics on issues like contraceptive use, lest the moral ascendancy of the Church 'crumble like a house of cards'”. This is a clear misunderstanding of the Pope’s words. What the Pope really wanted to say is that he wants the Church to talk more about what She’s for rather than what She’s against. The Pope wants the Church to be more positive in Her approach: to preach more about the Good News, rather than about the things that She is against. But that doesn’t mean that the Church won’t still be against those things that contradict Her teachings and traditions.
The Pope states: “I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds....”
If you will be asked by your friends what is the Catholic Church and Her mission, you must say “The Catholic Church is the depository of Good News of my salvation and She heals my wounds”. She tells me that I should not be sad because God loves me. Then, She forgives my sins in the Sacrament of Confession.