PHILADELPHIA — Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines spoke at the World Meeting of Families about the painful situations of loneliness, poverty, illness, addiction and other issues that exist in the domestic church. His talk at the Sept. 22-25 international gathering in Philadelphia was entitled The Family: A Home for the Wounded Heart.
Tagle is professor of dogmatic synthesis at the Graduate School of Theology of San Carlos Seminary, has a weekly television show, and over 500,000 followers on Facebook.“When we talk about wounded hearts, we are talking about wounded people,” Tagle began. “We are all wounded in one way or another: spiritually, physically, financially, mentally, emotionally.
“These wounds always affect the family,” he said. “When someone we love is wounded, their wounds become ours.”
Tagle recognized that many personal wounds come from the family, but they are healed there as well. “The home is the privileged place of healing of wounded hearts,” he said.
He was clear that one of the challenges of the family is that it is always the first and most intimate institution affected by the shadow experiences of life. Financial struggles, disease, lack of education, war, unemployment, infidelity, domestic violence, ethnic conflict, even religious exclusion: all of these affect the individual and the family.
Tagle warned that the wounds we experience are then sometimes used as an excuse.
“Wounds make us vulnerable to exploitation and despair and even to sin,” he said.
He said that one of the saddest things that can be experienced is a sense of homelessness.
“You may have a big beautiful mansion,” he said, “but you can still be homeless. The home is not measured in acres. A home is the gift of a loving presence.”
As is his practice when he speaks to youth, Tagle started to sing, presenting the Burt Bacharach song, A House is Not a Home. “I’m not meant to live alone,” Tagle sang. “When I climb the stair and turn the key, oh, please be there still in love with me.”
Tagle challenged the crowd of nearly 20,000 to be radical in their love and to allow the love that is nurtured in the family home to spill over and be a leaven in the world.
“Every person who is wounded, even a stranger, even an enemy, needs healing,” he explained. “I must love and offer them care.”
He went on to point out that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, even the one he knew would betray him.
Tagle used the Gospel stories of the lost sheep, coin and child. He explained that they all speak of loss and then celebration.
“The sheep in the analogy was probably sick or wounded, it was probably not worth going after. It was a liability. Why would the shepherd look for the sheep?” he asked.
“He searches them out because they are his own,” he answered. “And if it cannot walk home, (Jesus) will carry it home.”
He spoke of the incarnation as the healing human condition. Tagle sees the act of God taking on flesh as an intimate act of solidarity.
Tagle noted that Jesus fully embraced a wounded world by being wounded himself.
“He experienced being hunted down . . . being a refugee in Egypt . . . being lost as a teenager, and being branded as crazy, being homeless; he experienced the taunts and ridicule even of religious leaders,” he listed. “He experienced betrayal by a friend and death on a cross which was only for criminals and being buried in a borrowed tomb.”
Tagle said that Jesus then transforms the wounds into the triumph of love through the resurrection. “Jesus heals by first being wounded,” he explained.
He cited Matthew 10:7-8 which explains that the healing of the sick is a sign of the coming of the kingdom of God.
“When God reigns, when God rules, people are served with care, people are honoured, people are saved,” he shared. “Where Jesus rules, wounds are attended to.”
One of the most powerful insights Tagle offered the international, intergenerational audience is that it is in our very woundedness that the charism of healing can come.
“Since all of us are wounded, no one should be able to say, ‘I have no gift of healing,’ ” he said. “Our wounds will make us avenues of understanding, solidarity, compassion, and love.”
He argued that the church must embody the redemptive mission of God and that the church of wounded members becomes a church of solidarity. “For it is this type of community that will prevent alienation, loneliness and further woundedness,” he said.
“At the very core of the church’s identity is mission. You are not there to isolate . . . you are there to heal, to unite and to reconcile.”