2nd Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Diocese of Gurgaon & Feast of Bishop Mar Jacob Barnabas, 7 May 2017
Your Lordship Bishop Mar Jacob Barnabas, Priests, Religious, and the Laity of the ‘St. John Chrysostom Diocese of Gurgaon’
It is with great joy and profound happiness that I stand here to give this congratulatory message on the auspicious occasion of the 2nd Anniversary of the Official Inauguration of the St. John Chrysostom Diocese of Gurgaon and the Feast of its Bishop – Mar Jacob Barnabas. As the Representative of His Holiness Pope Francis, I take this opportunity to convey to you Bishop Barnabas, and the Vine of the Lord of the diocese of Gurgaon, apostolic greetings and blessings from the Holy Father. Let me also communicate to you, my heartiest congratulations, prayers and best wishes.
In the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. … And may the world of our time … be enabled to receive the good news … from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour and who have first received the joy of Christ” (EG 1, 10).
It is great to see that the ‘joy of the gospel’ has a very solid foundation in the new diocese of Gurgaon. I have experienced it through the activities of the diocese and especially through the conversations with His Lordship Mar Jacob Barnabas. And today, as you rejoice at the 2nd anniversary of the Syro-Malankara Diocese of Gurgaon, which spreads out to 22 States of India, I remind you of the fact that the diocese has a challenging mission of evangelization in future too. In this enormous task, I encourage you with the words of Pope Francis again in Evangelii Gaudium: “Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow…”
Pope Francis expects from you: “to come out of yourselves and go forth to the existential peripheries”. In his ‘Apostolic Letter to all Consecrated People’, he writes: “A whole world awaits you: men and women who have lost all hope, families in difficulty, abandoned children, young people without a future, the elderly, sick and abandoned, those who are rich in the world’s goods but impoverished within, men and women looking for a purpose in life, thirsting for the divine…Don’t be closed in on yourselves, don’t be stifled by petty squabbles, don’t remain a hostage to your own problems. These will be resolved if you go forth and help others to resolve their own problems, and proclaim the Good News”. As the Apostolic Nuncio, my paternal instruction to you is to translate these words of the Holy Father in the multifaceted Indian situations. You shall extend your service reaching out to the existential peripheries where the great majority of India: the poor, the downtrodden, the Dalit, the uneducated and the unemployed live.
It is my prayer that, in your works of Evangelization, let St. John Chrysostom, the patron of your diocese and St. Barnabas, the patron of your Bishop, whose feast we celebrate today, be sources of inspiration, help and support for you. St. John Chrysostom is known for his preaching and public speaking. He had once preached thus: “What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well”. According to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas undertook missionary journeys and successfully evangelized among the “God-fearing” people. May St. John Chrysostom and St. Barnabas protect and safeguard your diocese.
I call your attention also to the Second Vatican Council Document Orientalium Ecclesiarum which decrees that the particular Churches of the East and of the West “are of equal dignity…and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, even with respect to preaching the Gospel to the whole world under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff” (OE 3). Again, it states: “Variety within the Church in no way harms her unity, but rather manifests it. For it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or Rite retains its traditions whole and entire, while adjusting its way of life to the various needs of time and place” (OE, 2).
My exhortation to you today, is to hold fast to the principle of “Unity in Diversity” in your relations to the other Rites. With all the differences in understanding the concepts of universal, local and sui juris Churches, we shall not forget that, we all work for the Church of Christ.
On this feast day, I congratulate you, Bishop Mar Jacob Barnabas, and pray for you God’s choicest blessings, wishing you a providential help of grace in your committed life of the Shepherd of the diocese of Gurgaon. I also express my sincere gratitude to Bishop Barnabas. Since two years you are pastoring the people of God of the diocese of Gurgaon, very efficiently and with full of vigour and enthusiasm, bringing the diocese to various heights. I personally express my heartfelt thanks to Your Lordship for the wonderful leadership you are giving to the diocese of Gurgaon.
May the Lord bless you all through the intercession and St. John Chrysostom and St. Barnabas. Thank you.