+ Paul Tschang In-Nam
13 February 2016
Marian Shrine Nyaunglebin
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to be with you tonight to celebrate the Holy Mass on the occasion of the National Marian Feast, in which we venerate Our Lady of Lourdes. We come to implore heavenly blessings upon us and our beloved Country, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of the Church.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Charles Bo SDB, Archbishop of Yangon, for the kind invitation extended to me on this occasion.
As Representative of the Holy Father, I convey to all the faithful taking part in this Eucharistic Celebration his fatherly greetings and Apostolic Blessing. I would also ask your prayers for Pope Francis who is now making his pastoral visit to Mexico, as from yesterday 12th February, to be concluded on next Thursday, 18th February. Today on 13th February, His Holiness is visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin, “Mother of the America”, and crown her miraculous image with a diadem of gold and silver.
Gospel: Wedding banquet in Cana (John 2:1-11)
Today’s Gospel introduces us to the Wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee, where Jesus and his mother were invited.Our God is not the one who is far away, who dwells only in heaven. In Jesus Christ, God has come down to us, He has become one of us. He is close to us; he shares our life. Our human joys and sorrows are not unknown to Him. He takes part in our daily life; he shares our joys and sorrows, even our weakness. He knocks on our door, he comes in when we open our door, when we welcome him.
During the celebration, the wine ran short. This was far more than an inconvenience for the hosts of the party; it was a profoundly humiliating, embarrassingshortcoming for the newly-wed bride and bridegroom. Sensing their discomfort, Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine”.
In the symbolism of the Bible, the wedding banquet evokes the joy of the Kingdom of God, to which the Heavenly Father invites His children of faith. Joy, love, sharing, life … these are characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven.Together with Jesus and Mary we are privileged to be invited to take part in the heavenly banquet, feast of love, represented in the Holy Eucharist.
Wine, and the elation that it produces, are evocative of the divine life – that power which elevates both body and soul. Therefore, to speak of wine running out is to lament the disappearance of grace. In our life, we experience those moments of drought, when we feel helpless, abandoned, in great need and difficulties.
The Blessed Mary brings this state of affairs to the attention of her Son. By saying “They have no wine”, the Virgin intercedes for the newly married couple in difficulty. In all our needs and difficulties, we have our intercessor:our Lady knows how moved with compassion her Son is whenever he sees our need.
Commenting on the present text of the Gospel, Saint Maximus of Turin (5th century) wrote: “Mary was asking for a temporal favor, but Christ was preparing joys that would be eternal. Only he who had made it out of nothing could change water into something whose use was quite different.” Jesus wants to do the same with us, with the water of our life. He has the power to transform our human efforts, our limited earthly life into eternal joy.
On his part, Saint Bede comments: “Those are most worthy of Christ who (burn with devotional desires and) have known the passage from vice to virtue, from earthly to eternal things. The wine was made to fail in order to give our Lord the opportunity of making better; that so the glory of God in man might be brought out of its hiding place.”
Turning to the servants, Mary said: “Do whatever he tells you.” How wonderful that Mary still intercedes on our behalf and still tells us, simply and directly, to do what Jesus would have us do!
St. John Paul II who was known for his devotion to Our Lady, writes: “John outlines a new kind of motherhood according to the Spirit and not just according to the flesh: Mary’s solicitude for human beings, her coming to them in the wide variety of their wants and needs. This means bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s salvific power. Thus there is anintercession. Mary ‘intercedes’ for mankind. And that is not all. As a Mother she also wishes that the salvific power of her Son, which is meant to help the human being in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil that in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life, be manifested. The role Mary assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry.”
“Jubilee of Mercy”
Our celebration tonight takes place in the context of the “Jubilee Year of Mercy”, proclaimed by Pope Francis, which started on 8th December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, to be concluded on the Solemnity of Christ the King on 20 November 2016.
Our Holy Father invites us to meditate on the mystery of divine love and live it in our daily lives during this Jubilee Year, and particularly during this Lenten Season. He asks us that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (MV, 17).
Pope Francis teaches us that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy: the Father who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4) and who revealed himself as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6). In the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person, reveals the mercy of God. (MV, 1).“God is love” (1Jn 4:8,16). This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. (MV, 8).
In the Gospel we read the parables of Jesus who shows us divine mercy (cf. Lk 15). Jesus tells us that God is the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep; He does not abandon the sinners, the sheep which go astray, but goes in search of them. When he finds the lost one, he rejoices, he puts it on his shoulders and takes it back home.
God is our Father, full of mercy, who waits for the return of the “prodigal son” – that is, us who are sinners who abandon the Father’s house in order to satisfy our earthly desires – and when the lost son comes back, the Father embraces him, rejoices over his return and offers a banquet for him (cf. Lk 15:1-32).
Not only through words, but also through his acts, Jesus shows us the infinite mercy of God. He shares the joys and sorrows of the people. He has compassion towards the people who are hungry and he multiplies the five loaves and two fish to feed them. He has pity for the sick people, and he heals them, he frees them from their diseases, he frees them from the slavery of sin and demons. To the widow of Naim, who was mourning her only son, the Lord gives back her son, alive.
The Lord does not only have pity on sinners, but he calls them to a new life. With a look full of mercy, the Lord called Matthew, a tax collector, who followed him at once, becoming one of the Apostles (Mt 2:13-14). In his mercy, he forgave an adulterous woman from her sins and opened a way of new life for her, saying: “Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more.” (John 8:11).
The love of God, the divine mercy is the core of the Gospel. Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. It means his closeness and forgiveness towards each one of us, which opens a new life for us sinners. It is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible: that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy and peace.
During this “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy”, it is the profound desire of the Holy Father that the celebration of the Holy Year may become for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. Hence, Pope Francis invites all the believers to experience the grace of the Jubilee andto exercise the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, through which we can extend God’s compassion and mercy to those who are in need.We are invited to live this Jubilee Year in light of the Lord’s words who tells us: “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). (MV 13).
In his Message for Lent 2016, the Pope tells us:“God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged … For the flesh of Christ ‘becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled … to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us’ (MV, 15).”
In this Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father has a special consideration for all those women who have resorted to abortion, who repent the sin committed and approach the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart. The Holy Father has made known his decision “to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”(Pope Francis, Letter to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 1 September 2015).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us give thanks to God and praise Him for this wonderful Good News!He loves us who are sinners, he has pity on us, he calls us to a new life, he sends us to be witnesses of his infinite love and pardon. We are called to become missionaries of Divine Mercy.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her, thus becoming the perfect icon of the Church which is called to proclaim the mercy of God to the entire world.Let us pray, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, so that we may live this Jubilee Year of Mercy in humility and joy, proclaiming the salvific love of Godamong our neighbors in our beloved Country. Amen.
+ Paul Tschang In-Nam