01/29/2016, 12.25
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"Jesus, give me a new heart to love and serve my people" in Orissa, says Msgr. John Barwa after heart surgery

by Nirmala Carvalho

As Saint John Paul II taught, through one’s illness, one shares in the sufferings of Jesus and the redemption of the world. During his long period of convalescence spent in long prayers and deepening intimacy with the mystery of Jesus, the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (Orissa) shows how to live the Year of Mercy and the Consecrated Life as a sick person.

Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – "Jesus, give me a new heart to love and to serve my people,” said in silent prayer Msgr. John Barwa, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (Orissa)*, as he was whisked on a stretcher into the OR for heart surgery where he underwent surgery for three, long hours on December 19.

Now that he is convalescing, he decided to share with AsiaNews his feelings about the moments of fatigue, pain, and fear he went through for the love of his faithful in Kandhamal.

"In this Year of Mercy,” he said, “surgery was an immense grace for me, because I can share a little suffering with the people of my diocese, especially my people in Kandhamal, one of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in India".

In 2008, the district became infamous for the persecution of Christians by Hindu fundamentalist groups who for months killed dozens of people, burned hundreds of villages, and expelled tens of thousands of families.

"By Divine Providence", the bishop said, “the time of the surgery was also the time tradition tells us was the time of the Passion – from 12 noon to 3 pm - and I united all my pain and the blood I shed during the surgery for our Kandhamal Christians and the Church in India. It was truly a great gift of grace, in this Year of the Jubilee of Mercy, to enter into the Passion of Christ and intercede for my people."

“Saint John Paul II said that ‘Pain is converted to a font of life for all humanity, when it is lived united to Christ’, and that through our ‘sufferings we share in the redemption of the world’.”

“Another Grace given to me was that my heart surgery, besides taking place in the Jubilee of Mercy, also took place in the Year of Consecrated Life, and this is the beauty and joy of God's Mercy for me and my suffering people."

“Consecrated Life is a call to follow Jesus, to experience the Mercy of God and, like Jesus, to humanize a world that is waiting, thus making, the Kingdom of God a reality. My own consecrated life was renewed in this surgery, which made me touch with my heart and hands the compassion and the tenderness of the Mercy of Jesus.”

“My Consecration in the priesthood and my episcopal ordination are not my own. I have been immersed in the consecration of Jesus. By His Grace, recuperating after the surgery, I felt a renewed call to be the Alter Christus. Through many hours of prayer in recovery, and by deepening my intimacy with Jesus, I feel renewed in living in love and total dedication to Him through my suffering and that of poor and dispossessed people, especially of Kandhamal.”

Finally, “Pope Francis noted that Today’s consecrated men and women need to be prophetic, capable of waking up the world, of showing that they are a special breed who have something to say to the world. To this I would add that in our daily struggles, illness and pain, we conform ever more after Christ’s own heart!

“God bless Orissa.”

* The name of the state was changed from Orissa to Odisha in 2011.

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