Invitation to enter the door of faith
PENANG: Bishop Sebastian Francis praised City Parish for welcoming migrants, itinerants and refugees as members of the Church. City Parish, in doing so, is looking towards the future.
He said this in his homily at the Mass on the occasion of his pastoral visit to the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows on Dec 22, 2012. Fr Dominic Santhiyagu, the parish priest and Fr Michael Thoo, the assistant parish priest con-celebrated with him. The Mass was in English, Tamil, Mandarin and Tagalog.
He began his homily by offering a simple definition of faith. Faith is, he said, to know, love, serve Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour.
“Faith is also to know God the Father and the Holy Spirit, in and through Jesus Christ.” Finally, faith is to know the world, the church, my family, myself, in and through Jesus Christ. If you are asked ‘Who are you?’ may I suggest a very simple basic response. Just say ‘I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, here, now and hereafter.”
Bishop Sebastian suggested to the parishioners to bear in mind only one image and one invitation, i.e. the image of the door of faith and the invitation to enter the door of faith.
He then explained that there are two types of invitation. First, the door of faith is already opened and those who are baptized are invited to enter and re-commit themselves to Jesus Christ. Secondly, those who are not baptized are invited to enter as Jesus wants to know them and love them.
He warned us not to fall into the temptation that we have already enter ed the door of faith as this is a fresh invitation that comes from Jesus Christ, through our Holy Father.
Appealing to everyone to invite the baptized and non baptized to enter, he said this is because Jesus wants to know us, love us and serve us. There is only one prayer that will ring out in our hearts, mind and soul – that is ‘Lord, increase my faith’. Finally, he touched on the season of Advent.
“Advent is not a time for us to prepare for the birth of Jesus but to prepare for the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. This is the belief of Catholics. Let us remember what happened 2000 years ago and celebrate Christmas. Two thousand years ago, there were two women – one young maiden and one old barren woman – both pregnant. They ushered in Christmas two thousand years ago. Now, in this present year, who will usher in Jesus? We. That’s why we celebrate Christmas.”
After thanksgiving, the chairperson of the BEC Co-ordinating Team, Mrs Christine Choong, gave a short speech. She thanked the Bishop for his presence. She said that City Parish had planned a few activities for 2013 to deepen the faith of parishioners. This was followed by a presentation of gifts to the Bishop from representatives of the parish Chinese and Tamil Apostolates, and migrants from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Pakistan. They each brought gifts that represent their cultures.
On behalf of the parish, Mr John Dass, the PPC chairperson, then presented to the Bishop a gift, in the form of a lovely design certificate cum card in a folder, which contains various information of the parish. After acknowledging the gifts and expressing his gratitude, Bishop Sebastian voiced out that all of us belong to the body of Christ.
“The gifts from the different communities – each one of you who came up here represents Christ as the head. “As the Bishop of the Diocese, I represent Christ in the Diocese; your parish priest, Fr Dominic represents Christ in the parish; John Dass represents Christ in the PPC; parents representChrist in the family. We must exercise this responsibility in order to make the church grow. I thank all of you who belong to the body of Christ. Thank you to the parish for welcoming migrants, students, youth besides all Catholics. I am sure you will create a vibrant community in the heart of the city of Georgetown.”
There was a fellowship dinner after Mass, in which the parishioners met with the Bishop. — By Lucia Lai
note: for the rest of the photos, please go to our Facebook photo album.
(published in Herald 13 Jan. 2013 issue)