Jesus was born in Asia and the people of this vast continent are awaiting the Asian face of Jesus, said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) at the inaugural Eucharistic celebration of the FABC General Assembly in Bangkok, October 12.
The General Assembly named FABC 50 opened to a colourful start with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Cardinal Bo and concelebrated by several cardinals and over 150 Bishops and more than 100 delegates and officials from across Asia.
The event marks the conclusion of the golden jubilee of FABC, originally scheduled to have been held in 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic.
In his homily, Cardinal Bo described the gathering as an event of great exuberance, a moment of grace and thanksgiving to God for his many blessings.
“We are called to a metanoia that calls us to journey together. It is also an invitation from the Lord to reaffirm, renew and revitalize the whole church. We are journeying together on the path traced by hundreds of priests, catechists and other heralds of the gospel in Asia," he said.
Using the analogy of the burning bush Moses witnessed, the Cardinal said, "We too are overwhelmed by many challenges and realities that frighten and overwhelm us. But God is urging us not to be afraid. He constantly assures us of his closeness to us. The God who was able to empower a simple shepherd like Moses, and a fisherman like Peter or a tentmaker like Paul to do his work, he will also empower and strengthen us."
Recalling the words of Pope John Paul II in the document on the Asian Synod, Ecclesia in Asia, the Cardinal reminded the special predilection of Asia where Jesus Christ, the Saviour chose to be born as an Asian. Exulting in the goodness of the continent's peoples, cultures, and religious vitality, and conscious at the same time of the unique gift of faith which she has received, the Church in Asia must continue to proclaim the goodness and love of God as Asia awaits the Asian face of Jesus, he pointed out.
Asia, he said, is the cradle of world religions. There is a deep spirituality and even the people from the West are looking to the East for an experience of God. People are not looking for explanations but for experiencing God, not mere words but action and interiority. The many indigenous communities of Asia teach us how to share how to care for the earth and be good stewards of nature in the spirit of Laudato si.
"Christianity in Asia is 2000 years old and we are proud of the legacy of St Thomas, the Apostle, St Francis Xavier and numerous missionary priests, religious and laity," said the prelate.
He said the focus of the general assembly is to bear witness to Christ, to reveal his face, “the Asian face of Jesus".
The church is universal and needs unity in order to be a truly missionary church.
He recalled the many challenges Asia faces in its missionary mandate, but the bigger the challenge, the greater will be God’s grace, he said.
The Cardinal hoped that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the assembly would “discern the ways of becoming a church that is fully focused on its missionary mandate, a church that is deeply committed to the threefold dialogue, which for FABC is an ongoing program and priority- namely, dialogue with religions, cultures and the poor.”
The general assembly and the Synod, he said are grace-filled opportunities to rekindle the passion for the Gospel and to re-invigorate the missionary spirit in the church in Asia. We have to find fresh avenues, new methods and language and new pathways. The theme of our assembly beautifully reflects this aspiration, the cardinal said.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.