MUMBAI -- "Our efforts are numerous. we try to minister, collaborate, empower, network, advocate, facilitate, capacitate, educate and translate the Gospel values in our apostolate," says Most Rev Lumen Monteiro, Bishop of Agartala.
Following is the full text of the Homily given by Bishop Monteiro during the inaugural mass of the Fifth National Assembly of Caritas in Mumbai on February 6.
Theme: Anawim -- The Bent and Broken People of God
The Lord who spoke to Moses in the Old Testament telling him, “I have seen how cruelly my people are being treated” is the same Lord who sees the many injustices being perpetrated by humans on humans. And as he tells Moses, “Now I am sending you…so that you can lead my people out of this country” (Ex.3.10) so he is telling you and me to care for those bent and broken. Are we ready? We too are on a mission – a mission which is not just preaching and teaching but living and witnessing.
The bent and broken people need us to do advocacy, networking, capacity building, teaching, empowering, collaborating, educating and the like, so that we can help them.
The world needs more committed people to become ambassadors of peace, especially in this year which the United Nations has declared as the International Year for Violence Prevention.
Our country has seen globalization and privatization which brought an amazing cascade of modernity, affluence and the like. But behind this glitter there is the untold story of those on the margins – the bent and broken people who are often the focus of our ministry.
We will have to take up issues and find appropriate solutions rather than discard and blame. We will have to be pro-active because that is the spirit which is necessary.
As Stephen Covey says, “It is not enough that we react to events and situations, or follow a crisis-management style of functioning. We need to know our priorities and act, rather than be acted on. We are not helpless spectators in a situation. We have alternatives, we are capable of choices.”
A man was busy hacking away at the trunk of a tree with his axe. A passer-by noticed that his axe was blunt and proposed that he sharpen it. The man replied, “I am busy, I have no time to listen to your advice.”
CARITAS is all about proposing choices, alternatives for a better way. In the last 45 years CARITAS has grown into an organization giving voice to the voiceless, empowerment to the powerless, succour to those in distress and hope when all seems lost.
True that our country is beset with many problems: economic inequality, religious intolerance, political instability, educational paucity in the rural areas, insurgency, terrorism, poor health care, casteism and untouchability, nepotism, gender discrimination, corruption and the like.
But it is also true that we have the power to transform every situation and we as Directors have been given the mandate. We also need the Lord’s strength. Today we begin the National Seminar imploring God’s help. We take heed of our Holy Father’s words in Deus Caritas EST 37: It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work.
Clearly the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change God’s Plan or correct what He has foreseen, rather he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ asking God to be present with the consolidation of the Spirit to him and his work.”
An old Jewish dictum says, “ A person without a dream and a nation without a vision will perish,” We just heard the Gospel in which Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah and begins his ministry. This was his vision/mission statement: “He has chosen me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captors, to the oppressed, and announce that the time has come…” (Lk. 18 – 19). Today we are gathered as a Church-based organization for social development from all over the country for this Biennial National Assembly.
Our efforts are numerous: we try to minister, collaborate, empower, network, advocate, facilitate, capacitate, educate and translate the Gospel values in our apostolate.
We work within the framework of our vision and mission trying hard to build a better world for the bent and broken people of God.
We do this with love as out Holy Father Pope Benedict said in his Message for World Mission Sunday: “Unless mission is animated by charity, that is, unless it flows from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to a mere philanthropic and social action.