Lunes, 04 de noviembre de 2013

La celebración de Todos los Santos y de la ordenación episcopal del nuevo obispo de Faisalabad, Su Exc. Mons. Joseph Arshad, “un hijo nativo de esta tierra y de esta Iglesia”, ha reunido a obispos, sacerdotes, religiosos y miles de fieles para la liturgia solemne presidida esta mañana por el Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, el Cardenal Fernando Filoni. Faisalabad (Agencia Fides) – 

 

HOMILY of Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on the occasion of the Episcopal Ordination of Msgr. Joseph ARSHAD as the new Bishop of Faisalabad, in Pakistan 

Faisalabad – Friday, November 1, 2013 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: our hearts are filled with joy as we gather today in this Cathedral of Faisalabad to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints Day and to confer, with profound gratitude to God, the Episcopal Consecration of your new Bishop, Msgr. Joseph Arshad. I am very pleased to greet all of the Bishops here present, as well as the clergy, religious men and women, the relatives of the new Bishop, and all of you who are participating in this Liturgy. Special greetings to the Civil Authorities and Religious Representatives who also honor us with their presence: Salam Aleikum! Peace to You! 

As we all know, the Solemnity of All Saints Day has been instituted to commemorate all the Saints of the Church, both known and unknown. The First Reading in our Mass, taken from the Book of Revelation, speaks of “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9). Clearly, the “great multitude” refers to the faithful who are now in heaven, having won the crown of eternal happiness with God. The “white robe” reminds us of the white baptismal garment that we receive when we become sons and daughters of God through the Sacrament of Baptism, while the “palm branches” held aloft would speak of the joy with which Jerusalem welcomed Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who was preparing for his Supreme Sacrifice of love to be accomplished on the Cross for our salvation. 

I am fully certain that in heaven there are countless unknown Pakistani Saints, who now enjoy eternal bliss with God, as they see Him face to face: a beatific vision. The Second Reading of our Mass, from the Epistle of John, beautifully describes it: “…we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).  To this day, this world continues to be drenched by the blood of Christians, who bravely and faithfully hold onto the Faith, even to the point of death. Yours is also a land of known and unknown confessors of the faith. Let us not forget with the Christian writer Tertullian that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” (Apology, 50).

We trust that the faithful and laudable witness of our Catholic faith here is the salt and light in this noble land, and contributes to the life of the whole Church according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which says that all the baptized, having been incorporated in Christ, are joined to the People of God and therefore participate in the mission entrusted to the Universal Church, accomplished in the world through their profession of faith, generous and heroic witnessing of Christian life, in whatever situations they find themselves, and through their proper contribution in various areas of life, family, work, profession, as well as in the civil, political and social spheres (cf. Ad Gentes, n. 21). In affirming this, how can we not think of the shining and heroic witnessing of Shahbaz Bhatti, an ardent promoter of love among religions and of giving voice to religious minorities. His faith in Jesus, deep and clear, inspires and encourages those who have the grace to know him.

Our double celebration, of all Saints and the Episcopal Ordination, today gives us an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the Ministry of Bishops and the call to holiness of Episcopal life.  Let me start by speaking first of the Episcopal Ministry which, in a short while, will be conferred on our dear brother, Msgr. Joseph Arshad, a native son of this Land and of this Church, who for a number of years has worked at various Apostolic Nunciatures in the service of the Holy See.

By means of the Episcopal Ordination, carried out through the Imposition of Hands and through the Words of Consecration, immense gifts for service, authority, and jurisdiction will be gratuitously bestowed upon him. St. Augustine, on the occasion of the anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination, confesses: “The day I became a Bishop, a burden was laid on my shoulders for which it will be no easy task to render an account. The honors I received are for me an ever present cause of uneasiness. Indeed, it terrifies me to think that I could take more pleasure in the honor attached to my office, which is where its danger lies, than in your salvation, which ought to be its fruit. This is why being set above you fills me with alarm, whereas being with you gives me comfort. Danger lies in the first; salvation in the second” (Sermon, 340).

Dear Msgr. Joseph, all these years have witnessed your outstanding fidelity to the priestly life and ministry, leaving no doubt as to why the Holy Father to asks you to lead a portion of the People of God here in your beloved Country. Today, through the Episcopal Consecration, you will receive the fullness of the Priesthood and a sacred character will be impressed on your person, enabling you to “take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative” (CCC, n. 1558). Through an unbroken line of Apostolic Succession, you will be counted among the successors of the Apostles, and, together with the Supreme Pontiff and under his authority, you will be sent to continue the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor. You will be vested with the three-fold office of sanctifying the Faithful, nourishing them with your teaching of the liberating truth of the Gospel, and forming them to become a people pleasing before the Lord (cf. Christus Dominus, n. 2). Indeed, a Local Church cannot be without the presence of its Bishop. The faithful will be “helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:36). What the portion of the People of God in Faisalabad will be in the years to come will greatly depend on how you will dispose of the gifts, authority and full pastoral service that come with the Episcopal Ordination.

How then can a Bishop fulfill the immense tasks and mission given to him? What will guarantee the fruitfulness of his Episcopal ministry?  Blessed John Paul II, reminds us that “Personal holiness is the condition for the fruitfulness of our ministry as Bishops of the Church” (Address to New Bishops, 5 July 2001). We cannot dissociate the Episcopal ministry from the pursuit of personal holiness for a Bishop. It functions much like the soul to a body. Holiness animates and gives direction, meaning and effectiveness to the very exercise of Episcopal ministry. When a Bishop sanctifies his life, centering his whole life in Christ, he attains a “unity of life”, enabling him to avoid duplicity or insincerity. There is no discrepancy between what he preaches and what he practices. In other words, he becomes a credible witness of the Gospel. Blessed John Paul II said: “It is our union with Jesus Christ that determines the credibility of our witness to the Gospel and the supernatural effectiveness of our activity and our initiatives” (Address to New Bishops, 5 July 2001).

A Bishop who seeks personal sanctity brings about a form of service to the Church by example. He is not one who forcibly commands in order to be obeyed. Through his exemplary life, he earns much respect and admiration, deserving to be obeyed. He does not force his authority be felt in order to lead. He is much like the Lord Jesus who “teaches as one having authority, and not like the scribes” (Mt. 7:29). Through a life worthy of emulation, his every word attracts listeners and his every gesture evokes esteem.

You, as a Bishop, are called to be a man of charity and to guide your flock by a true sense of pastoral love, motivated by and clearly aware of the fact that that the Lord Jesus, to whom you will be further configured, “came to serve and not to be served” (Mt. 20:28), seeking neither personal gain nor privileges. In a discourse to new Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI said: “The sanctity of your lives and your pastoral charity will be an example and support to your priests, ... who are also called to build the community with their gifts, charisms, and the witness of their lives, so that the choral communion of the Church may bear witness to Jesus Christ, that the world may believe” (Address to New Bishops, 15 September 2011).

You are called to announce the Gospel, which will be placed above your head, and, at the same time, to be a man of dialogue with everyone, especially with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and the many others who profess other religions.  You are to be a man of patience, giving encouragement in various and difficult situations, well aware that the fullness of the Holy Spirit that you will receive today will sustain you in every circumstance.  Always confirm the good in your brothers, be a true father for all of your priests, have peace toward all, and be a friend at all times.  

Before  concluding, I wish to call upon everyone to support your Bishop with loyalty and affection.  He will be for you a good Bishop if you help him to be such, and I ask this in a special way of the priests, men and women religious, and all those called to collaborate with him in the service of this Church in Faisalabad.  Make of the life of this Diocese a masterpiece for God, since God has this Church in His hands.  You are to be for all the “Sacrament of encounter with God” and He will be with you.  Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you to the care of Monsignor Arshad; Dear Monsignor Arshad, I entrust these, our brothers and sisters, into your hands.  In doing so, I ask the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of all Saints, and I take commend you to the prayers of the Patron Saints of the Diocese of Faisalabad, St. Peter and Paul, that our brother Joseph, as the new Bishop of Faisalabad, will not walk alone in the difficult and challenging journey in the ministry of Bishop. As we believe in the “Communion of Saints”, may you not forget that you are sustained by a multitude of Saints, both unknown and known. AMEN. 

 


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