The 29th September marked the date when the Church of Divine Mercy (Penang) was dedicated eight years ago as a Church and five years ago its establishment as a parish. The occasion was celebrated with evening Mass and fellowship. It was most opportune as eight religious were there to concelebrate Mass. The main celebrant was the Archbishop of Agana, Guam, His Excellency, Michael Jude Byrnes. Together with him on the altar were Bishop George Rimando from Davao of the Philippines, Msgr Krzysztof Marcjanowicz (Poland) of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of New Evangelization, Fr Amado Arroyo from the Philippines, Fr Carlos Santorce Vila, Fr Joel Gabayan De Los Reyes (also the Youth Choir Master), Fr Birgido Petro Arroyo all from Guam and CDM parish priest, Fr Martin Arlando. There was also Dr Raphaela Pallin from the Vatican in the congregation. The visitors together with some of their parishioners were on stop over on their way to the airport leaving for home after attending AACOM 4 that concluded the day earlier.
Eight Religious Concelebrating Anniversary Mass
In his homily, his Excellency recapped the gospel readings of the previous Sunday (Mark 9:30-37), on the question which Jesus had asked regarding who he was. Peter had got the answer right. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was establishing a new kingdom on earth and they were also arguing who was the greatest among them. He tells them that the greatest is the one who is the servant of all. Jesus was now focusing on what it is to live in this new kingdom of God. Jesus tells them that they have to be child-like to enter his new kingdom. He uses the child who has no social standing, no power and essentially a slave who is dependent on others and one who is most vulnerable. These are the type of people they have to serve in order to get to heaven.
Turning to the day’s gospel (Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48), his Excellency related that Jesus turns to John who complains there are others casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus says that anyone who is not against us is for us. This is not the way John understands how leadership works, as there should be just only one person leading the way. But Jesus is passing on the message that anyone who uses the name of Jesus should not be turned away. He is preparing us to adjust our minds and normal daily living to this new way. Jesus is also very harsh on those taking advantage of others and exploiting others to their advantage. Christianity is not about just praying and attending church but it is about our practices to live the way God is calling us. To be thrown away into the Valley of Gehenna is to be thrown into the city’s trash dump. Those who are living outside the kingdom of God are thrown away like trash. If our eyes watch wrongful things, throw it away. If our hands do bad businesses that exploit others then it is better gain less profit than to be treated as trash. Similarly, if our feet cause us to travel to sinful places then it is not worth it. We become credible witnesses at a cost. This is our opportunity to join in His sacrifice of obedience.
Guam Youth Choir Performing at Fellowship
At the end of Mass, the congregation celebrated the cutting of an anniversary cake followed by a fellowship dinner in the church basement. The parishioners were given a rare treat when the Guam Youth Choir decided to sing two songs at that time. Everyone present praised the great harmony they showed in song. A comment by Fr Birgido was that this fellowship dinner was indeed a good way of celebration. After the intense three days of AACOM 4, he had woken up that morning feeling lost. The evening’s mass and celebration gave him an uplifting of spirits. Shortly after that the visitors were given a sent off as they boarded the bus to the airport. It was an extraordinary feeling of being blessed to be able to share the joy of our celebrations with our fellow Catholics from other countries.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
2nd October, 2018.