03/22/2016, 17.39
INDIA
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Vasai bishop: many adult baptisms at Easter, a sign that Jesus is real

by Nirmala Carvalho

Mgr Felix Machado speaks about adult converts in his diocese. “Stunned” by a young woman who spoke to her parents about it, he notes that only the love of Jesus pushes towards him, not personal gain or selfish reasons. People are attracted because Jesus is a "deed, a word, a voice, a real person.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “Many people have been drawn to Jesus” during the Year of Mercy, said Mgr Felix Machado, archbishop of Vasai.

Speaking about adult baptism in his diocese, he noted that this year, many people decided to undertake the rite of Christian initiation, "to become disciples of Jesus, but without denying their origins" because in the desperation of today’s world, "Jesus is the face of God's mercy. People are touched, comforted, encouraged and forgiven by him. He is a transcendental mystery but also actual history."

To illustrate this, Mgr Machado, who chairs the Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), mentioned the story of a young woman from his parish.

Born a Muslim, she decided to convert. He met her, along with a group of young people who are undergoing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.

"This young woman gave a moving testimony of her encounter with Jesus. I was stunned,” the prelate said. “She is a normal person, intelligent and well-balanced. I asked her what her parents thought about her choice, and she relayed their talk – a very healthy way of looking at things, very encouraging."

For this reason, "nothing ought to be done in secret,” he said. “People are just themselves. Sometimes they meet Christ on their own; sometimes they do it through someone else.”

In any case, “the Church cannot shirk its responsibility. It must allow people to deepen their encounter with Jesus, who was witnessed by the apostles."

Adults who decide to convert "also love their religion of origin. On the one hand, they want to become true disciples of Jesus; on the other, they do not want to deny their past. All said, they continue to build the original bridge that brought them to Him."

As for the reasons such people come closer to Christianity, "we must consider the present world,” Mgr Machado said.

“Today people are desperate and they see in Jesus the face of the mercy of God the Father. God’s mercy, not in abstract terms, is a deed, a word, a voice, a real person. This is what attracts them to Jesus. He is a transcendental mystery, but at the same time actual history. When people enter his life, they experience these things."

"What right do some have to stop this?" With respect to accusations of forced conversion levelled against the Church, Mgr Machado notes, "the Church requires a long period of preparation. It is a rigorous, serious process during which doubts about allurement, selfish motives and so on are clarified."

"Only love attracts people. We must always be vigilant and aware of wrong forms of proselytising,” he explained, “for that is the devil's work. People come to Jesus only because they are drawn to Him. His love is the only road that leads to Him."

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