Archbishop's Message

Dear Fathers/Brothers/Sisters,

I am including two documents for your reflection, study and teaching. The first one is a reflection on Lent based on Pope Francis Lenten Message for the year 2017 and the other is the message of Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) issued at the end of the 29th plenary. It is a simple reading, short and beneficial for our pastoral ministry.

Lent 2017

We are already in the season of Lent. It is a Holy Season God has granted us to renew ourselves and draw near to God. As spiritual leaders we are not only interested in our own renewal but also of the people, especially those who surround us. The best way we can influence them is our own way of life lived beautifully in the presence of God during these days. Below I give the summary of the message for Lent issued by Pope Francis. It is a simple message which many of you might have already read. If not, you can still read it and pass on this summary to our people.

Lent is a preparatory time for Easter, the feast of Christ’s victory over death. It is a period during which Church calls all Christians to turn to God with all their heart (Joel 2:12), to give up mediocrity and grow in friendship with Lord Jesus. He is close to us and never abandons us even when we sin and await our return.

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving are the traditional means suggested to us to deepen our spiritual life. We have many more ways presented to us on various occasions and different persons which we can personalise to bring about a personal renewal during this Lent. At the basis of every call to renewal is the Word of God which we must read and ponder more deeply. Pope Francis explains the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16: 19- 31) as a starting point for our reflection during Lent.

This parable tells us that the Other Person is a Gift. Lazarus is miserable and anonymous but he is a priceless treasure because he is one whom God cares and loves. In the same way each person we meet, especially the weak and the vulnerable should be respected and honoured.

The second lesson it gives us is that Sin Blinds us. The rich man is extravagant: he has expensive dress and feasts sumptuously every day. St. Paul tells us that love for money is the root of all evil. It is the main cause of corruption, envy, strife and suspicion. Instead of becoming an instrument for doing good and showing solidarity towards others money makes us selfish, leaves in us no room for love and hinders peace. Money makes man vain in appearance and blind to the needs of others.

Thirdly, we must learn to Listen to God’s Word. The rich man converses extensively with Abraham after death to show that he belongs to the people of God. But until death there is no mention of his relationship with God. The rich man wants Abraham to send Lazarus to alleviate his suffering what he himself did not do in life. Again, in spite of his pleading Abraham tells him that his brothers would not listen to a man risen from the dead if they refuse to listen to the living prophets and god men. The root cause of the misery of the rich man was his failure to listen to God’s word. As he no longer loved God, he despised his neighbour.

Lent is a favourable time to renew our Encounter with Christ, the living word in the Sacraments and our neighbour. The Lord shows us the way by overcoming the deception of the evil one during his temptation in the desert. The Pope prays that the Holy Spirit may lead us on our journey of conversion so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s Word and be purified of sins that blinds us to serve Christ present in our brothers and Sisters in need.

Let us keep the Lenten practices as best possible and celebrate the liturgy with due preparation and dignity that it may profit us personally and the people to whom we are ministering. I wish you all a Happy Easter. May the risen Lord help us to give up our mediocrity to the things of the spirit and indifference to the poor and marginalised! May we be transformed into the image of Christ our Lord!

Yours sincerely,

+Archbishop John Moolachira
Archbishop of Guwahati