South Sudan's Challenge

South Sudan's Challenge
Healing & Reconciliation

Monday, April 24, 2017

3rd Sunday of Easter (A) - Breaking Bread with Strangers

Readings: Acts 2: 14, 22-33; 1 Peter 1: 17-21; Luke 24: 13-35

Selected Passage: But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. (Luke 24: 29)

Meditation: The key to the recognition of the Risen Lord is sharing shelter with the stranger and breaking one’s bread with stranger.  The two disciples shared their abode and table with the stranger.  This is the same challenge to us all – if we are to recognize the Risen Lord.  In fact the sharing of our abode and bread with the needy is a lived Eucharist!

Our Christian community, more than ever, NEEDS to remember its conversation with the Risen Lord: ‘were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?


1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2nd Sunday of Easter (A) Divine Mercy Sunday

Readings: Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31

Selected Passage:  Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20: 24-25)

 Meditation: In life, we behave like Thomas.  We do not believe unless we, too, put our fingers into the nail marks in Jesus’ body. Yet our faith lies NOT in seeing but on the testimony of believers. We accept the testimony, because we recognize the trustworthiness and integrity of the witnesses. Today, we are the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection! Are we trustworthy witnesses?

The Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us that the other name of God is MERCY! “Mercy renews and redeems because it is an encounter between two hearts: the Heart of God who comes to meet us and a human heart.”  (MM # 18)


1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step:  Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Recognizing the Risen Lord at the Breaking of the Bread....

Recognizing the Risen Lord in the Breaking of the Bread…
Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI

The journey through life is akin to the disciples' walk to Emmaus... It is a journey full of uncertainties and fears, yet hopeful that there is something going on beyond their comprehension. (Luke 24: 13-35)

·      First, there is the obstacle that prevents them to recognize the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst.
·      Second, there is the fact that the Risen Lord is “completely transformed”. He is beyond look or appearances, beyond taste and touch, and beyond smell and hearing that ordinarily would make our five senses know and recognize a presence.
·      Third, there is the remembrance of the Lord’s teaching of “sharing shelter with strangers”, “food to the hungry” and “rest to the weary”.  The disciples invited the “Stranger”: “stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over”.
·      Fourth, at the shared table, the disciple’s eyes were opened at the BREAKING OF THE BREAD… and they RECOGNIZED THE RISEN LORD!

The key to the mystery of life, as we journey through life with all its uncertainties, fears and “untold” expectations, is the capacity to share our lives with others, especially with people in need.  That key will open our eyes to recognize the presence of the Risen Lord at the breaking of the Bread.  But first, we need to share our table and roof with the poor and the strangers…


Friday, April 14, 2017

Short Meditation on the 7 Lat Words

Short Meditation on the Seven Last Words
By Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

First Meditation: “Father Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus experienced abandonment in his moments of trials and difficulties.  His own friends abandoned him and fled for safety.  One of his chosen ones betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. His own people disowned him. And they hailed him to foreign power to be tried and condemned to die.

In all his pains and sufferings, he lovingly looked at them and even as he heard their jeering, he said: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

When we feel betrayed and abandoned... may we remember Jesus' words... and learn to forgive. 

Second Meditation: “Today, you will be with me in paradise…”
One of the thieves nailed to the cross with Jesus, exclaimed: "Lord, remember me when you enter into your kingdom."  And Jesus replied: "Amen I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise."

We are all sinners... Paradise is NOT a reward of our hard work or strivings.  No, we do NOT merit the kingdom of God!

Paradise is NOT earned...! It is a GIFT!  We pray for that gift... and like the thief on his side, we cry to God: "Lord, remember me..." 

Yes, God remembers us always... and God remembers us with loving compassion.

Likewise, we are invited to remember God always... May God's name and compassion be always in our lips and hearts.

Third Meditation:  To his mother, Jesus said: “woman, here is your son”.  And to his disciple: “here is your mother.”
In his agony, Jesus saw the pain of his mother… he looked at her with love and entrusted her to his disciple:  “woman, here is your son”.  And to his disciple standing by the cross, Jesus said: “here is your mother.”

Tradition has it that Jesus, on his way to Golgotha where he would be crucified, met his mother.  There are three important scenes depicted in the traditional Stations of the Cross. The first was the meeting of mother and son on the way to Calvary.  Second was the scene where Mary, the women and his beloved disciple were standing at the foot of the cross. And third was the scene when Jesus was taken from the cross and laid on his mother’s lap.  This last scene had inspired great artists and the most prominent was the great Michelangelo that gave us the famous Pieta.

Yes, Mary was always there in the life and work of her son… In this meditation Jesus is speaking to us and gives us his mother… to be our mother, too!   He speaks to her mother and tells her… that we, now, are her sons and daughters!  And today, Mary – our mother is always there, too, in our life…

Fourth Meditation:  “I am thirsty.”
Nailed on the cross, Jesus felt thirst… and he cried out: “I am thirsty.”  This cry of anguish echoes the cry of the poor.   In many places in the world – in urban and rural settings, we find the poor who cry out, as well, in their loud voice: “I am thirsty.”  Often this is a cry of the real physical thirst – no drinking water, no washing water, no toilet facilities.  At times, this is a cry of anguish, because they find “no exit” from the “hole” of poverty that is akin to a quicksand that drowns them.  At other times, this is a cry that seeks solidarity from people – looking for a helping hand… an extra shirt or a walk of an extra mile!

Jesus in his thirst expresses his solidarity with us… it is the thirst that invites us, also, to be in solidarity with our neighbor… But who is our neighbor?  Is this not the very question that the doctor of the law asked Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

Fifth Meditation:  “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabbactani” My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me.”

Towards the end, Jesus experienced a near despair! He was abandoned; He was in extreme pain; and He could not understand the tragedy that was unfolding… He cried out to his father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…”

This cry reminds of the song, Foot Prints in the Sand.  It was the same experience of being abandoned in times of great pain and difficulty… Speaking to Lord, the person asked: “Lord, why have you abandoned me… for I see only a set of foot prints?”  The Lord answered, “no my child, when you see only a set of foot prints… those where the times that I carried you in my arm…”

God is there… God carries us in his arms… when we, too, see only a set of foot prints… they are God’s and not ours…!

Sixth Meditation: “Father, into your hand, I commend my spirit…”
The end has come and Jesus, totally trusting his Father, cried out: “Father, into your hand, I commend my spirit.”

There are things we do not understand… The tragedy and grandeur of life, often, escape us.  In fact, to understand life… we need to bend our knees… and like Jesus in the cross, we, too, need to completely put our trust in God. 

When everything is said and done… it is only God’s mercy and love that endure… Yes, we need to make that leap of faith… “Father, into thy hand, I commend my whole life!”

Seventh Meditation:  “It is finished.”
Before breathing his last, Jesus said: “it is finished.”  Yes, he completed his mission to the last…!  He paid the full price for our freedom to become God’s sons and daughters.  He was the “ransom” for our freedom!

Romans 8: 31- 39, beautifully, expresses that new dignity purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ: 

“What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, “for thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter Sunday (A)

Short Reflection for Easter Sunday – Jesus is Risen, Alleluia!

Readings: Acts 10: 34. 37-43; Colossians 3: 1-4; John 20: 1-9

Selected Passage: “The the other disciplen also went in, the one who had arrived first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (John 20: 8-9)

Jesus is, truly, Risen! Alleluia! With Jesus' resurrection we have the guarantee that, in the end, good shall prevail over evil; life over death; and grace over sin!  As St. Paul says – “Christ has been sacrificed. Therefore , let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.  (1 Cor. 5: 8)  Easter Greetings and Blessings to one and all!

Dhikr is an Arabic word for remembrance. In the “tariqa” (the way) movement, dhikr developed into a form of prayer… It is a prayer of the heart… following three simple steps:

1.    Write in one’s heart a certain passage of the Holy Writ…
2.   Make the same passage ever present in one’s lips. 
3.   Then wait for God’s disclosure on the meaning of the passage…that interprets one’s life NOW…!

It takes a week of remembering (dhikr)…or even more days to relish the beauty of this method…

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mary under the Cross


On the surface, it seems she isn’t doing anything at all: She doesn’t speak, doesn’t try to stop the crucifixion, and she doesn’t even protest its unfairness or plead Jesus’ innocence. She is mute, seemingly passive, overtly doing nothing.

In essence, what Mary was doing under the cross was this: She couldn’t stop the crucifixion (there are times when darkness has its hour) but she could stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, heartlessness, and anger that caused it and surrounded it.

Mary helped stop bitterness by refusing to give it back in kind, by transforming rather than transmitting it, by swallowing hard and (literally) eating bitterness rather than giving it back, as everyone else was doing.

Had Mary, in moral outrage, begun to scream hysterically, shout angrily at those crucifying Jesus, or physically tried to attack someone as he was driving the nails into Jesus’ hands, she would have been caught up in the same kind of energy as everyone else, replicating the very anger and bitterness that caused the crucifixion to begin with. What Mary was doing under the cross, her silence and seeming unwillingness to protest notwithstanding, was radiating all that is antithetical to the crucifixion: gentleness, understanding, forgiveness, peace, light.

There are times too when things have gone so far that shouts and protests are no longer helpful, darkness is going to have its hour come what may and all we can do is to stand under the cross and help eat its bitterness by refusing to participate in its energy.

In those situations, like Mary, we have to say: “I can’t stop this crucifixion, but I can stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, brute-heartlessness, and darkness that surround it. I can’t stop this, but I will not conduct its hatred.”

Sometimes the blind, wounded forces of jealousy, bitterness, violence, and sin cannot be stopped. Like Mary under the cross, we are asked to “stand” under them, not in passivity and weakness, but in strength, knowing that we can’t stop the crucifixion but we can help stop some of the hatred, anger, and bitterness that surrounds it.