2009-10-17 13:12:17

Mission congress participants urged to 'incarnate' Christ's message

(October 17, 2009) The mission of the Church is to help Catholics "incarnate" their faith as part of their very identity, "and spread it without fearing any consequences," asserts an Indian prelate. "When a Christian incarnates and lives his faith, all false charges of conversion by fraudulent means, enticement and force sound hollow" because these stem from misunderstanding and prejudice, said Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona. The prelate was speaking during his October 14 keynote address at the ongoing Indian Mission Congress. The festival's theme is "Let Your Light Shine: Become the Message and the Messenger. In his address, titled "Let the Messenger Become the Message," Bishop Dabre cited last year's attacks against Christians in Orissa, eastern India, as an example of Christians suffering courageously to carry out the mission of evangelization. He stressed that it is only by living fully in Christ that Catholics can effectively become both Christ's "messenger" as well as his "message." When the message and the messenger become one, a new bright path opens out whereby the light of Christ can be shared with everyone in India and around the world, said the prelate, who is chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India's Commission for Doctrine and Theology. Bishop Dabre said the Church's commitment to serve others is reflected in its extensive network of educational establishments, health services, relief and rehabilitation programs and other social services. "It is not right to say 'yes' to Christ and 'no' to the Church, for Christ makes himself present in the Church," he explained. The prelate said the Church is basically missionary and Christians are urged to follow the examples of people like Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Alphonsa, India's first woman saint, to spread the light of Christ through deeds of love and service. Many missionaries carry out this mission amid suffering, atrocities and persecutions in India and elsewhere in the world, Bishop Dabre added.

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