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BISHOP

Most Rev. Oswald Lewis
Bishop of Jaipur

2018 Easter Message By Most Rev. Oswald Lewis

BISHOP’S MESSAGE: MARCH 2019


The loving Father, in His goodness, provides times and seasons to His beloved children to make amendments for the wrong they have committed and to obtain grace for the fullness of life. One such season is the holy season of Lent. A season of prayer and fasting, a season of charity and generosity, a season of forgiveness and reparation. Soon the Mother Church invites her children reminding them that they are made of the earth and to the earth they have to return; they are like the earthen vessel that is breakable with a slightest force. They are like the grass that is green in the morning and withers in the evening; or like the flowers that blossom in the morning and fade in the evening. Thus the Lenten season is one of great importance. It is a sacred season of Lord’s favour, the day of salvation and reconciliation. The Father sent His Son out of His immeasurable love for us sinners. He sent Him to free us from the tyrannical power of the devil, to invite us to heaven and lead us into its innermost Sanctuary. Fulfilling the plan of His Father, Jesus went through passion and death. Sacrificing His life on the Cross, He made us sons of the Father and heirs to eternal life. (St. Charles Borromeo) During Lenten season the Church calls the mystery of our salvation to mind each year to stir us to renew constantly our memory of the great love God has shown us. This Lenten season teaches us that our Saviour came not only to redeem the people of His time but to redeem the entire human race. So from our part, we must through prayer, fasting, charity and sacraments prepare ourselves to celebrate the Pascal Mystery by dying to sinful ways and by rising to newness of life. Like a devoted mother, keenly concerned for our salvation, Church uses the rites of this season, its hymns, songs and other utterances of the Holy Spirit, to teach us a lesson. She shows us how to receive this great gift of God, with gratitude. She teaches us that our hearts should be prepared for rebirth in Christ.

Lent is also the spring time in the Church. It is a time of new beginning, a time of growth in the Church as well. Lent from the Anglo-Saxon word, lencten means spring. From the very early times in the Church, lent has been a time of new beginnings and growth in commitment to Christ. Lent was a period of special training and instruction for the converts to Christianity. The catechumens were prepared for their baptism, which they would receive at Easter vigil. During these forty days, they were instructed, they had to fast and with penance enter into Christ’s suffering so that they could rise with Him on Easter Sunday. It was truly a time of growth for them.

For us today Lent remains a period of growing in the life of Christ. It is a time of new beginnings, a time of growth. In the first place, this means remembering what God has already done for us. Liturgical readings during Lent, taken from the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Prophets, present a summary of the great events and wonderful works God has done for His people, Israel. As they journeyed through the desert, they experienced the closeness of God and enjoyed the fruits of His promises to them. They were constantly instructed by their leaders to remember and never forget what God had done for them. Similar instructions were given by St. Paul to the Romans, calling them to make a new beginning, to grow in their commitment to Jesus Christ. “For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13)

How do we grow? Jesus shows us the way. We see Jesus going through the painful process of growth. He was tempted to sin. He faced the temptation to pleasure, to power and ambition, to turn his back on God. But Jesus did not give in. He went through the pain, the self-emptying, and the throes of a new beginning. Thus finally He emerged the victor, renewed and strengthened to begin His ministry.

The season of Lent invites us to follow Jesus; invites us to the desert, the desert of our lives are the areas of hardness, selfishness, pleasure, greed, jealousy, hatred, anger and other evil habits. Like Jesus we too have to go through a bitter and painful struggle, the pain of turning away from sin, of resisting temptation. Then we must build up positive relationship with Jesus. Each day, we spend some time in prayer, in reflecting on the word of God, meditating on the various events in the life of Christ specially those leading to His suffering, passion and death. we also come across people who are struggling through life and experiencing painful situations. There are the neglected elderly going through loneliness; there are the terminally sick going through unbearable pain; there are the poor unable to get a square meal; there are the unemployed and frustrated going through anguish. We can make some sacrifice of spending time with them, sacrifice some pleasure to help them, sacrifice some money to enable them to obtain what is essential. This could be one of the ways of experiencing the relationship with Jesus.

One of the historic events of 2018 was the Synod of Bishops, XV Ordinary General Assembly on “Young people, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The Post-Synodal document is now with us for reflection. The World Youth Day-2019 was held in Panama from January 22 to 27 in which thousands of young people from around the world participated. This highly significant event for young people was presided by Pope Francis, who chose to celebrate this event precisely to demonstrate his closeness to Christians and young people. It is said that more than 5, 00,000 pilgrims from 135 countries took part in the celebration.

In response to these historic events and to rekindle the relationship of the youth of our diocese with Jesus, the diocese of Jaipur is celebrating the Year of the Youth this year. With the inauguration of the year on Sunday 3rd March, the celebration will be held round the year with many programmes both at parish level and at the diocesan level. The Youth Cross that will be blessed and handed over to the young people will travel throughout the diocese. The Cross remains in each parish for a duration of 10-15 days, during which the parishioners and youth in particular, will gather around the Cross to pray, praise and worship. Rev. Fr. Siju Thomas, Director of Diocesan Youth Commission, has drawn up an exhaustive plan of activities for the youth. The whole parish will join the youth in all common community activities.

“If you could change the world, what would you do?” This question was posted several days ago on the World Youth Day twitter. While different replies shot up from all parts of the world, the one that was considered the best, came from a young girl, Sofia Sguerri, age19. She replied, “I would start by changing ourselves; one must begin with oneself in order for necessary changes to happen in the world and the Church. Together we can help. The World belongs to everyone.” Sofia’s statement reminds us of Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer who said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Each of us think that I am right, he is wrong. I am a saint, the other is a sinner. So he needs to change. Our ego is so strong that we do not accept our weakness; we do not accept the reality that we are in need of change.

Our youth need to look at themselves in the spirit of Sofia, the young girl from Florence. In humility the youth accept their helplessness, their nothingness, their dependence. That leads to accept the reality that there is a super power above them. They receive strength and energy from the power above. Their faith in God increases. It is with the grace of God that they are what they are. With introspection, the youth realize that the change has to come from within. The first necessity is to change oneself. Only then the others and the society can be changed.

The motto chosen for the Year of the Youth is “To be Formed to Transform.” During this year all efforts are to be made for the formation of our Youth. First and foremost there is a need for faith formation. The gift of faith granted to each one at Baptism is a gratuitous gift from God. This seed has to grow into a plant and then into a tree. It is a slow and gradual process. So the youth are to be taught about their faith. Catechetical formation, scriptural knowledge and prayer will help the youth to grow in their faith. There is the necessity of character formation of the youth. Those taking care of the youth, will guide the youth, teaching them the ethical values, family values and Gospel values. There is also the necessity of a concern for others. Going out of our way to help those in need will build up the character of the youth. Physical formation, intellectual formation and emotional stability will make our youth responsible towards their family and towards the society. Ultimately all these different aspects of formation have one goal that is TO BE LIKE JESUS.

Jaipur Diocesan youth formed in the likeness of Jesus will do as Jesus did. During the public ministry, Jesus walked from village to village to do good to others. He healed all those sick who came to Him; he preached the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Walking on the footsteps of Jesus, the youth will go out to transform others, to transform the society and the nation. The youth can surely become the agents of change and instruments of peace and joy. They will go out to do good to others and preach the Good News through their life and deeds.

May the Year of the Youth-2019 be a year of grace to all of us so that we become like Jesus.

+ Rt. Rev. Oswald J. Lewis

© 2019 -Diocese Of Jaipur