Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Unity and Fellowship in Diversity

Unity and Fellowship in Diversity
By Fr. Eliseo ‘Jun’ Mercado, OMI
Badaliyya – Philippines

Few years back (0ctober 13th, 2007 – which coincided with the end of Ramadan that year), 138 Muslim Scholars, Academics, Muftis, and Leaders from 43 nations representing the two major branches of the Islamic World (Sunni0 and Shi’a) and other smaller groups and sects wrote a letter to the Pope and other Christian Leaders (now known as “A Common Word’).  The title of the letter is NO accident. It is taken from a Sura (Chapter) of the Qur’an – Sura 3: 64 (Sura of the family of Imran) that states: “A Common Word between Us and You”.

The passage is a direct quotation from the prophet to the Christians when he sees that he cannot reach agreement with the Christians and the Qur’an. This is what the prophet said: “Come let us agree on at least one common ground: that we shall worship none but God and that we shall ascribe no partner unto him, and that none shall take other for lords beside God”.

The Letter has three major parts: the 1st is the Love of God in Islam and Love of God as the first and greatest commandment in the Gospel (al-injil); the 2nd is the Love of Neighbor, again, in Islam and in the Gospel; and 3rd is an invitation to come to “a common word between us and you”.

The Letter insistently stresses the unique devotion of the believers to one God.  The Love of God In the Islamic Tradition, God is the Lord (Rabb) of the worlds and he is All-Merciful (al-Rahmaan) and All-Compassion (al-Rahim).  And in the Gospel (al-injil): ‘God is Love’ (1John 4:8).  ‘We love, because God first loved us’ (1 John 4: 19).  Yes, our love of god springs from and is nourished by God’s love for us.  It is interesting to note that the Love of God is rarely used in the Qur’an but found abundantly in the Islamic mystical traditions (among the Sufi).  Usually the Muslims speak of ‘obedience to God’ or ‘adoration of God’.  

The other interesting point is the Love of Neighbor.  The Letter speaks that love of neighbor is the pinnacle of our duties toward our neighbors.  None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself’ the Prophet Muhammad said (pub). And in the New Testament, we similarly read: ‘whoever does not love the neighbor does not know God. (1 John 4: 8).  Thus speaking of the ‘Love of God’ and ‘Love of neighbor’ albeit with some nuances is a refreshing novelty in an official and public document with a broadening theological consensus (ijma).

Both Islam and Christianity have beautiful traditions of loving and forgiving enemies.  At the end of his life, Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies: ‘forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23: 34).  Similarly, the prophet Muhammad (pub) did the same when he was violently rejected and stoned by the people of Ta’if saying: ‘the most virtuous behavior is to engage those who sever relations, to give to those who withhold from you and to forgive those who wrong you’.  It is good to note that after the prophet was driven out of Ta’if, it was the Christian slave ‘Addas who went out to the prophet, brought him food, kissed him, and embrace him.

The Letter attempts to re-establish that relation that ought to exist between Christians and Muslims, especially in these dangerous times of extremism and radicalism that kill and persecute in the name of religion and god.  This is, in fact, clearly stated in the introduction by recalling that both Christians and Muslims constitute over 55% of the world’s population.  Without peace and justice between these two religions, there can be no sustainable and meaningful peace in the world. And when these two major religions come to a common word, peace and prosperity as well as care of the earth become more real and sustainable.

Another beautiful point in the letter is the acknowledgement and re-iteration of the Qur’anic passage that our religious diversities are destined/planned by God. “Had God willed, He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you. So vie one with another in good works. Unto God ye will all return and He will then inform ye of that wherein ye differ” (al-Ma’idah 5: 48).

This is truly a refreshing gust of wind in an age of extremism! The Letter invites all to come to a common word, that is, ‘to vie one with another in good works’ as a paradigm of our relationship. It points to the fact that Muslims and Christians can live together in peace and harmony despite their differences and moreover, God wants these differences!

Definitely, the Letter provides a new basis of the relationship between Muslims and Christians.  The letter, no doubt, invites all to pursue the common commitment and determination to establish peace among the believers and see beyond their differences the SIGN for those who know (for they are touched by God  - inna fi daalika la-aayaatin li-l-‘aalimina), that is, as the Mercy and Compassion of our Lord.

Editor’s Note:
1.     At present there are over 380 Muslim Scholars, Academics, Mufti and Leaders who have affixed their signatures to the Letter.
2.     All the Letter’s addressees: The Pope and All the other Christian Leaders of the pre-Chalcedonian Christianity and the Churches of Reformation including major Theological & Divinity Schools have positively responded to the Letter.
3.     There is a continuing Forum and Dialogue on the “Common Word”. The first one was in Europe, followed by USA, the Vatican and Saudi Arabia.
4.     In the Philippines, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID Director Amina Rasul-Bernardo) and the Institute for Autonomy & Governance (IAG Senior Policy Adviser, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI) continue the discourses on the ‘Common Word’.
5.     There is a complete publication on the Common Word compiling all the activities and forum on the letter in One Volume on the occasion of its 5th anniversary in 2012.  Anyone interested can avail of an e-copy … you need only to google common word…

Friday, June 16, 2017

OMI Postulants' Admission

OMI Postulants’ Admission

During the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the Communities here at the Marian Hills on June 14, 2017, I could not help but noticed the offerings of the seven lighted candles marking the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Yet during the celebration, because of the “wind” from the Holy Spirit began putting off some of the lighted candles.

The first one to go off was the Gift of Fortitude. I was thinking… “Oh my God, there goes the gift of fortitude!” Yet on a second thought… methinks that the HS is, perhaps, telling us that this gift is NOT yet needed here since the formands are well protected by the walls of our houses and properties.

Then the second to go off was the Gift of Understanding. Oh my! What is happening… would it mean there would be less understanding in these houses? Yet, on a second thought… perhaps it is not yet time for this gift. Understanding, usually, is associated to age and experience - sometime during the senior years or somewhere near it.

Then the 3rd to go off was the Gift of Knowledge. Ah, this must really be something! But on further reflection… It may not be the gift that is needed at this stage. The knowledge at this stage of formation is basically “input” from the formators and resource people that feed the formands.

And the 4th light to go off was the Gift of Wisdom. Oh my! What would this mean…? Wisdom - NOT yet at this stage! Wisdom comes not only with age and experience but with prayers and solitude. So this has to go off!!!

The three remaining lighted candles were the Gift of Counsel (3rd candle); the Gift of Piety (6th Candle); and the Gift of Fear of the Lord (the 7th candle).

I thought that these three remaining lighted candles representing Counsel, Piety and Fear of the Lord are the most appropriate gifts of the Holy Spirit for you guys, at this stage of your formation. Yes, you seek Counsel as you begin the journey and discern God’s call. Yes, you need the gift of Piety as you begin to venture in Spiritual Life – the journey of the soul inward. And yes, at this stage, you need the gift of the Fear of the Lord. We begin the journey with this gift to remind us that here begins NOT only knowledge as the saying goes – “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” but also the beginning of a journey towards God.

Usually here ends my homily… but I have two added quotations to remind us of the first reading taken from 2 Corinthians 4)

“Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:7)

Yes, we re the earthen vessels where God put that call – the treasure entrusted to us. This also shows us that the treasure of surprising power is NOT from us but from God. Fragile as we are and at times also broken… the lord puts that treasure in the vessels that we are…

We have nothing to fear – neither our fragility or even our brokeness – the pot and the potter image in Jeremiah assures us that whatever… and not withstanding… God remakes the spoiled/broken vessels that we are to always something new that is pleasing to him.

“But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.” (Jeremiah 18: 4)

Homily by Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI
Mass of the Reception of OMI Postulants
6 am, Tamontaka, Dinaig

June 16, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Celebrating my Golden Jubilee as Missionary and Religious...

Golden Jubilee as Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate…

On this date, June 15th, fifty years ago (1967), I pronounced my first vows as a Missionary and a Religious in the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I was young, barely 19 years old, and full of energy and idealism to conquer the world for the Lord.  I did not know what the vows would entail in my life; the cost I had to pay; and the challenges I would face in the world out there.

What I did promise the Lord, fifty years ago, as I put my hand on the plow, was that whatever, there would be no turning back and NO looking back. My faith in him was the guarantee that he would always be there by my side.

People described me, then and perhaps even now, as a “stoic man”.  When in pain or sick, suffer and endure alone; when successful and challenged, simply smile, relish them and move on; I rest simply by staying in my room.

God’s abiding presence had always been there these past 50 years, albeit often I did NOT feel his presence and thinking I was all alone. Yet, on a second thought, I would NEVER have survived many difficulties and trials on my own!  God had been there and he left his marks even in the wounds and scars I bore.

I have often said that God broke me three times, bodily and spiritually! He broke my heart, first in 2002. Then he broke my manhood in 2014. And last he broke my head in 2016.  But he also touched me as if telling me to remember always his promise and my promise fifty years ago that had stood the test of time!  Through this brokenness, he was telling me that it is NOT in my heart, neither in my manhood nor in my head that He seeks as offerings and holocausts.  Neither should I look for what my heart desires, nor for any spiritual technique, and not psychological quick fixes that would give substance to my life. 

In my senior years, he invites me to begin to se what is in front of me and begin to learn and notice the obvious often hidden by many cares and perceived obligations and duties.  I was rather slow in earning – looking for his face in defined places, preferred ministries, special duties and tasks, on specific days and rituals, yet God is NOT there…! He is HERE. 

Yes, as my strength deems; as my years get shorter by the day; I should take notice that God is here … I live and breathe, grow in my senior years in the womb of God.

Now I remember, the lessons taught by my mother, these are three important lessons and icons to go by for the rest of my life. Jesus Nazareno (Quiapo) – Jesus bore the cross and gave his life for me! Mary is always the Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran)! And again Mary leads the way to a safe journey back to the Father and her Son and in the Spirit – Nuestra Senora de Buen Viaje (Antipolo). 

Yes, in my brokenness, I have found refuge in these three shrines.  And I made pilgrimage to these three sacred places of the direction that has stood the test of time!

I conclude with praise and thanksgiving for my community – the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the people I minister and work with through the years, friends and kapamilya – MARAMING SALAMAT PO!

Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr., OMI
Badaliyya – Philippines

June 15, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Meister Eckhart (1260-1329)

APPREHEND GOD in all things,
for God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God
and is a book about God.

Every creature is a word of God.

If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature--
even a caterpillar--
I would never have to prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature.

(Meister Echart (1260-1329)

Badaliyya Session beginning July 2017

Hello Folks,

Beginning July 2017, we shall again begin our Badaliyya Prayer Session. The Prayer Session begins with a lecture on Christian Spirituality touched by the Islamic Environment.  

In Year A (2016), we began the year with reflection on the Badaliyya Movement in the ME and on the lives of St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Fr. Louis Massignon, and the Trappist Martyrs in Algeria.

For Year 2017 (Year B), we shall begin with some basics in Islamic Spirituality then move on the contemporary issues confronting Muslim-Christian relations.

We will set aside every first Thursday of the month beginning July.  The session begins at 2: 30 pm to 5 pm.  We begin with Lecture , then sharing or Q and A, and then move to te chapel for silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and followed by light snack. 

The schedule of the Badaliyya Sessions are on the following dates: July 6th, August 3rd, September 7, October 5, and November 2.

All the sessions will be held at the OMI Spiritual Center in Tamontaka, Broce (Dinaig)

You may invite your friends and lay associates to this sessions on Spirituality touched by the Islamic Environment.

Paz y Bien,

Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI
Badaliyya - Philippines
June 14th, 2017

Corpus et Sanguinis Christi (A)

Readings: Deuteronomy 8: 2-3. 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17;mJohn 6: 51-58

Selected Passage: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (John 6: 51)

Meditation: The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ reminds us of the price of redemption.  He broke his body and shed his blood that we may have life!  When we eat his body and drink his blood we share his life. And if we do share his life, we, too, are invited to break our body and shed blood for others that they may have life. See www.badaliyya,blogspot.com


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.