Celebrating Mass for participants in the Synod General Assembly, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon laments that Myanmar’s Christians are on an ‘exodus,’ and recalls the Way of the Cross lived by many Christians throughout Asia.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“Faith shines a light on the path through life’s darkest and most tumultuous moments, allowing us to see God’s grace penetrating the shadows.”
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, the President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC), gave the homily, focused on ‘The Long March Towards the Synodality of Hope, Peace and Justice,’ during the Synod on Synodality’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday morning.
He made this observation as he decried that Myanmar’s Christians “are on an exodus,” who despite the unthinkable, keep their faith and eyes fixed to the Cross.
God never abandons His people
The Cardinal noted that, in Scripture, dating as far back as Adam and Eve, we observe that humanity has been on an unceasing, spiritual quest, an odyssey marked by an unwavering search for meaning.
Yet, as we see consistently throughout the sacred texts, Cardinal Bo underscored, “The message is candid clear: God never abandons His people.”
Abraham, the father of our faith, the Cardinal noted, was called to step into the unknown, and St. Paul, in the first reading from the Letter to the Romans, presents Abraham as an exemplar.
“As we embark on various journeys in life and faith,” he acknowledged, “we often find ourselves uncertain of our destination, yet we are called to venture into the unknown, guided by our unwavering faith.”
Just as Abraham’s faith justified him, the FABC President insisted, “we too are justified by our faith, believing that God always fulfils His promises.”
“Our synodal journey,” he went on to say, “is not a pre-programmed space odyssey with fixed mathematical equations. Rather, when God calls us, He becomes our guide, our roadmap, and our companion.”
“Our synodal journey is not a pre-programmed space odyssey with fixed mathematical equations. Rather, when God calls us, He becomes our guide, our roadmap, and our companion.”
Faith shines through darkness to see God’s grace
The Cardinal higlighted how faith shines a light on the path through life’s darkest and most tumultuous moments, “allowing us to see God’s grace penetrating the shadows.”
Like Abraham, the Church, he said, is called to be “righteous,” to embody “a synodal journey of faith with the conviction that God never fails.”
“Like Abraham, the Church is called to be righteous, to embody a synodal journey of faith with the conviction that God never fails.”
“Despite the doubts and anxieties that may accompany us on this long march,” he recognized, we can draw inspiration from figures like Moses, chosen by God to be a liberator and a model for us all. Even if “we may not reach our intended destination,” he noted, “participating in the journey is a blessing in itself.”
The Archbishop of Yangon acknowledged there are great expectations for the Synod, which take place “amid global turmoil, as witnessed in recent events in West Asia and other regions around the world.”
God has a plan
“God,” he reassured, “has a plan for each one of us and for our Church, and our journeys and plans must align with His will.”
Despite this reason to take comfort, he decried, echoing the Holy Father’s message, that human greed has already inflicted deep wounds upon our planet and stripped millions of their dignity.
Pope Francis, he observed, emphasized in his recent significant documents, calling for a “threefold reconciliation to save humanity and the planet”: reconciliation with God, in Evangelii Gaudium; reconciliation with nature, in Laudato si and Laudate Deum; and reconciliation with one another, in Fratelli Tutti.
Synod for hope, peace, and justice
Our synodal journey, said the Cardinal, is about healing and reconciling the world in justice and peace, underscoring that the only way to save humanity and create a world of hope, peace, and justice “is through the global synodality of all people.”
“Amidst this Synod,” Cardinal Bo mentioned, “one of our grave concerns is the legacy we will leave for the next generation.”
“Amidst this Synod, one of our grave concerns is the legacy we will leave for the next generation.”
“The environment has been borrowed from the young, and the inheritance due to them, a more peaceful world with the integrity of creation intact, is in jeopardy,” Cardinal Bo warned, stressing that, “Global warming has devastated communities and the livelihoods of millions, threatening to slip away from the next generation.”
He recognized how Pope Francis has consistently drawn attention to these issues and the need for justice.
The President of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences acknowledged that Asia’s Bishops “are acutely aware” of the environmental damage inflicted upon our region due to climate-driven disasters.
“We have a significant population of indigenous Christian communities, particularly in the South China Sea, central India, Vietnam, and Myanmar,” he explained, noting, “These communities have been protectors of nature, but they have also suffered from modern ideologies, colonization, and resource exploitation.”
As FABC celebrates its fifty years, we draw the world’s attention to the destruction of huge swathes of forests, the lungs of our planet in these regions and the increased violence against these indigenous peoples.
Cardinal Bo recalled how Asia is the birthplace of the world’s major religions, and the region where Jesus’ message first took root. Even if the Asian Church has faced various challenges throughout history, he expressed gratitude that it remains vibrant and young.
“Our faith journey in Asia,” he acknowledged, “is not without difficulties, but this Synodal gathering has energized us to return to the great days of evangelization by the Apostles. We embrace the call for Asia to become the 21st Century for Christ with optimism, inspired by the global Church’s synodal journey.”
Christianity’s immense suffering in Myanmar
Nowhere in Asia is the Christian faith journey more challenged than in Myanmar, the nation’s Cardinal explained.
Myanmar’s small flock, Cardinal Bo lamented, is currently scattered due to both natural disasters and manmade crises, causing multidimensional crises and immense suffering.
The Way of the Cross in Asia
“Our people are on an Exodus,” he said, decrying, “Homes have vanished, and churches have borne the brunt of cruelty, and the Way of the Cross is a painful reality in many parts of Asia.”
“Our people are on an Exodus. Homes have vanished, and churches have borne the brunt of cruelty, and the Way of the Cross is a painful reality in many parts of Asia.”
Nonetheless, “like the faithful women who followed Jesus along the Way of the Cross, the Church in Myanmar and Asia,” the Cardinal said full of faith, “invests in the hope of reconciliation.”
Awaiting a new, blessed, Dawn
The Cardinal said they continue the Synodal journey, “believing that, like those women, we will see all wounds healed, and a new dawn of hope, peace, and justice will shine upon every long-suffering nation,” and reiterated their prayer “that the Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, will bring the entire human family into the long march of healing our world and our planet.”
Cardinal Bo concluded his homily by saying that on behalf of the People of Asia, “we wish each and every one of you a blessed and inspiring journey ahead.”
Source: VATICAN NEWS