We sat down with Fr. Jesus Galindo to talk about the Year of Mercy and its place in the lives of the parish of San Antonio. He shared with us his thoughts and hopes for the year and how we can all encounter God’s mercy throughout Lent and the rest of the year.
Fr. Jesus began by talking about the timeliness of this Year of Mercy. “The Church has always been seen as a powerful institution,” he says. “There’s a saying, utos ng pari, hindi mababale. That kind of mentality has been problematic. What we need now is a Church devoted to being a Church of the poor. That means being a place where God’s mercy can be encountered by all, especially the marginalized.”
“The tone of the parable is not anger and condemnation but
mercy, love, and joy. That is the God we would like to encounter”
When I asked what the parish can do during this Year, Fr. Jesus pointed to himself. “It has to begin with us priests,” he said. “We acknowledge that we are human and in need of God’s mercy ourselves. Only then can we show mercy to others.”
“A special place where this can happen is in the sacrament of reconciliation,” he continues. Fr. Jesus emphasizes that he prefers the idea of reconciliation and repentance over calling the sacrament ‘confession.’ The name ‘confession’ evokes too much of a trial or courtroom, which was the old context of the sacrament. The sacrament is still the same, but we can emphasize today an encounter with a merciful God who wants to reconcile with us so deeply.
When I asked him about his hopes for the rest of the Year of Mercy, Fr. Jesus highlighted two things. One would be for mercy to start at home. Many parishioners have helpers in their houses. “It is as basic as treating them with respect and dignity,” Fr. Jesus says. That already is a simple act of mercy. The second would be to participate in communal celebrations of the sacrament of reconciliation. This would be a good way to understand how the sacrament is really one of healing and mercy. “Consider the father in the parable of the prodigal son,” Fr. Jesus suggests. “The tone of the parable is not anger and condemnation but mercy, love, and joy. That is the God we would like to encounter”
Fr. Jesus has personally devoted himself to the confessional these days. It is where his life and ministry has led to at this point in his life.