Restoring the sense of gift
by Nancy Russell Catan

In Day Three of PCNE3, the third Philippine Conference on New Evangelization, we were challenged to be mercified, to be missionaries of mercy, and to restore the sense of gift.

Being a mercified missionary is both a privilege and a responsibility. Cardinal Tagle explained “mercy” as “The Healing of Betrayal through the Gift of Self” and secondly, “Mercy as A Binding and a Loosing”.

How do we betray ourselves and others? Common forms of betrayal are anger, hatred, cynicism, bitterness, greed/avarice, revenge, violence. These violate the responsibility of trust.

Cardinal Tagle pleaded with everyone to please restore the sense of gift. He said that nowadays we live in a “throw away culture”; we throw away food, clothing, time, values, persons. This discarding, also called the culture of consumerism, is the modern way of betrayal. He gave examples for each, zeroing in on the habit of discarding people by abusing them, not respecting or caring for them, through unfair labor practices, through violence.

He enjoined us to restore the sense of gift by looking for and seeing God in each person, by seeing God in every minute of time, by seeing God in our values, and in our environment … by looking for and seeing God in everything and everyone.

One of the keys to bring back the sense of gift is the habit of sharing – “Don’t Throw, Always Share”. Return to the simplicity of life. God’s gifts (people, things, events, time, values, our faith and our life) are to be treasured, not to be thrown away or discarded. God’s gift is each one of us; we are the gifts of God to others. We were asked: what kind of gift are you?

The concept of Mercy as a Binding and a Loosing reminds us to always hold onto God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and His commandments, teachings and the Christian way of life. Thus a mercy that binds restores broken ties, damaged relationships and hurt feelings through the act and process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Mercy as a loosing or untying of anything that keeps us in bondage can be compared to the surgery needed for unblocking the arteries causing a heart attack. What should we untie or unblock in our lives? Corruption, vices, drugs, and many other kinds of what he called “unfreedoms”.

The Cardinal ended by issuing us this challenge: First of all, he said each one of us must be personally mercified, aware of God’s mercy always at work in our life and allowing Him to more fully love us. Only then can we truly reach out and share His love, compassion and mercy with others. Begin with self, then family, then neighbors, workplace, friends, unknown others … always sharing God’s mercy with others through “Awa, Unawa, Gawa”.

To me, the conference was not just a conference, it was a Spirit-led and Spiritfilled Retreat. It did not matter the number of participants (more than 4,000), what was more important to me was the movement of my heart closer to God. I continue to be overwhelmed as I trace back and remember God’s merciful interventions in my life. I am still pondering being mercified, am I really, truly mercified? I am still reflecting on the qualities of Awa, Unawa, and Gawa in my life. And I am sure that the memories, insights and reflections of the PCNE3 weekend will remain with me for a long, long time.

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