Card Gracias: The Eucharistic Congress will not close, for the encounter with Jesus does not die!
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “Jesus is the Father’s greatest gift of mercy to humanity, and the Eucharist is Jesus’ greatest gift of mercy to us. Receiving his mercy we are called to give his mercy to others,” said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, at the close of the National Eucharistic Congress held in Goregaon, Mumbai, between 12 and 15 November.
In his final address, the cardinal thanked the event organisers, participants and speakers. He also paid tribute to Pope Francis, who at the beginning of the Congress spoke to the gathering in a video message.
Speaking about the initiatives to be implemented after the Congress, Cardinal Gracias said, “As we return to our homes we cannot be the same. We have realized the importance of the Word of God so that we participate more meaningfully in the Eucharist and understand the mission it gives us.”
To this effect, the archbishop proposed the establishment a group of volunteer lawyers who will provide legal aid to prisoners who cannot afford the legal fees of their trial.
Here are the cardinal’s thoughts.
I confess I feel a tinge of sadness as we end this Eucharistic Congress. For me it was a Retreat. Only the silence was not there – but everything else and at an intense level. We had a whole range of experiences: the deep theological reflections in the Key Note Address by Cardinal Toppo, and in the rich theological exposition by the other noted theologicans.
We wept with Mrs. Nayak as she narrated to us the horrifying experiences of her husband’s martyrdom. We were intensely moved as speaker after speaker spoke of their consciousness of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and how Jesus spoke to them. We truly felt humbled as the laity spoke and we prayed “Lord can we also touch you? Lord can we also hear you?”
The celebrations of faith were thought provoking and inspiring: West Bengal’s story on human trafficking; the Kerala celebration of faith in the family; the challenging exposure on the caste problem by Tamil Nadu. The visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni at Bhate Bunder was itself a celebration of faith: seeing the thousands of people, meeting them, touching their faith, feeling their joy and enthusiasm and their love for Christ.
There was the unique experience of participating in the Eucharist in the three different Rites: well prepared, participative and meaningful liturgies.
Is it a wonder that we feel a tinge of sadness that the Eucharistic Congress is concluding?
As we return to our homes we cannot be the same. We have realized the importance of the Word of God so that we participate more meaningfully in the Eucharist and understand the mission it gives us. After the Emmaus experience the disciples were never the same again. Their eyes were opened and they rushed back to Jerusalem to give the Good News. Has Goregaon been an Emmaus experience for me? Are my eyes opened: regarding questions about theology that I might have had? areas in my life that needed strengthening? Pope Francis is in three weeks calling a special year of the Jubilee of Mercy. Jesus is the Father’s greatest gift of mercy to humanity, and the Eucharist is Jesus’ greatest gift of mercy to us. Receiving his mercy we are called to give his mercy to others.
Each Bishop, each delegation, each delegate will decide how to share this gift of Mercy when they go back home. In Bombay we have been thinking of starting a collective of lawyers who will help under trial prisoners, many languishing in jail because there is no one to help them. They are too poor to afford any legal help; they too can experience the mercy of God. Can we think of another Home for the differently abled as a memorial of this Eucharistic Congress? During the last Synod of Bishops it was stressed often that the family is the recipient of mercy and the giver of mercy. Could we work on this?
And now suddenly I come to understand that this was truly an Emmaus experience. The Lord was indeed with us, explaining to us, opening our eyes. Were not our hearts burning as we listened to Him?
And so we all return to our homes. The Eucharistic Congress does not conclude because the Emmaus experience cannot conclude, it cannot die out! It should not die out. We must keep the fire burning. We must share the Good News: Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone!
Thank you, God bless and a safe trip back home!