“The Church has great hope in you!”
His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Papal Nuncio in India, inaugurating the Power 2012 incites the youth to rise up to encounter Christ and discover the hope of glory!
I am happy to be here in the Divine Retreat Centre for POWER 2012, the International Youth Conference and Couples Retreat entitled. It is a rare opportunity to be with so many participants, couples and young people who long to experience God and who are willing to offer themselves in his service. This Retreat Centre is a spiritual power house of India, the biggest centre attracting people from all over India and beyond, to be spiritually transformed and renewed.
The theme of the conference for this year is “Christ in you – the hope of Glory.” (Col 1:27). It is an opportunity for all of you to have a faith experience and to be enriched by God who grants that special privilege of faith within the Church. It is a time of special gratitude and appreciation for the spiritual transformation taking place within the Catholic Church through this spiritual renewal centre. It is an opportunity for you to thank God for helping you to journey with him during the last twenty five years of this centre. You are here to look back with gratitude and look ahead with hope, faith and love.
On this special occasion I bring to you the Apostolic Blessings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. His prayers and blessings are with you. This evening, my dear brothers and sister, I would like to share a few reflections with you.
1. Christ in you:
Among the many wonderful things happening in this spiritual centre, what is significant and most effective has been the transformation in the lives of people. God works wonders and miracles in your lives. You continue to experience the transformation, “being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18). The Lord constantly invites you to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ call you “not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
Only in this way can you ensure Christ is in you. Only in this way can you truly call yourselves Christians. As such, Pope Benedict XVI tells us, that “Christianity is not a new philosophy or a new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians. Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, Sept 3, 2008)
2. Christ gives you the Gift of Faith:
The first manifestation that Christ is dwelling in you is when you have faith in him. It is not just believing in Him when things are good and easy but standing firm and loyal to him even in trying times. Pope Benedict XVI says that “Faith in God, in this project of love brought about in Christ, is first and foremost a gift and a mystery which must be welcomed in the heart and in life, and foremost a gift and a mystery which must be welcomed in the heart and in life, and for which we must always thank the Lord.” (Pope Benedict XVI, world Mission Day, 6th January 2012). Faith certainly is a free gift from God but is also a most difficult reality to accept, especially if it has to guide your beliefs, conduct and way of life”.
Pope Benedict XVI was well aware of the difficulties to be steadfast in the Faith. As such he proclaimed the Year of Faith by saying. “We want this year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.” (Benedict XVI, The door of faith, 11 October 2011). Our life is meaningful and relevant when we accept, assimilate and live the faith every day of our life. With faith in Christ, you take courage in his words when he says, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done but do greater and more marvelous things.” (Mt 21:21). Let us thank God for the gift of faith that he has given us through Christ.
3. Christ fills you with Hope:
The indwelling of Christ in you through the gift of faith fills you with the hope to be with him always. You chose to be his followers because of the message of his own life that was not centered only on life on earth but brought the promise of life eternal, that is “the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col 1:5). As such, St.Paul admonishes us, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Cor 15:19). Faith in Christ should make you aspire for higher things, more lofty goals and make you more generous in love. It encourages in you the hope that, despite the difficulties you will encounter to strive to make a difference, there is hope for something better, making life better on this earth by works of justice, peace and love and the promise of heavenly homecoming. Pope Benedict XVI says that “Jesus is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive. Christ is hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And He is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Christ my hope, has risen, 8 April 2012). In whatever situation you are in, you constantly experience the hope presented by God. You are strengthened and look forward for the things to come. Let us as followers of Christ thank him for the great hope he has given to us and the hope which brought us here.
4. Christ share with you his Love:
Someone who has given him or herself to Christ in faith and hope cannot but also share his love. The Lord came into the world to share his infinite love with us. “God so loved the world that his gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16). The central message of God’s love is summoned up in this one verse. God cannot but love us. He continues to be in touch with us all the time with his love. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5).
When you begin to experience the love of God, it has the power to transform you to love others as Christ did. The love of God is such a force that cannot be kept only for oneself, rather it motivates you to proclaim the message of love to everyone you come in contact with. Pope Benedict XVI once told young people that “If you find your sustenance in Christ, my dear young people, and if you live profoundly in him as did the Apostle Paul, you will not be able to resist speaking about Him and making Him known and loved by many of your friends and contemporaries.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Youth Day, February 22, 2009). That is what love can do to you. This is what the many martyrs and the many saints in the history of the Catholic Church have done who have gifted us today with the testimony of their love for God. Their experience of the love of God had transformed them to the extent of offering their life in love for God. Let us open our hearts in gratitude for his infinite love.
5. Christ’s Power in you:
The title of this conference, “Power 2012’ receives its vitality and energy from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, because “the power of God was with him” (Lk 5:17) and from the beginning the Christ shared the power with others. In the scriptures we hear how “Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned around in the crowd and asked who touched him” (Mk 5:30). The power of the Lord is given to all who come and ‘touch’ the Lord in faith, hope and love. St. Paul experienced this that made him say “power of Christ, rest upon me” (2 Cor 12:9). Pope Paul VI sums up the power of Christ in most apt words: “Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega; he is the king of the new world; He is the secret of history; he is the key to our destiny. He is the mediator, the bridge, between heaven and earth. He is more perfectly than anyone else the Son of Man, because he is the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the Son of Mary,” (Pope Paul VI, The Centrality and True Power of Christ, Manila, Philippines, 29 November 1970). The power of Christ is revealed in you when you are able to truly live the virtues of faith, hope and love in your daily lives, especially during the most difficult times, when you feel weak and helpless. During those times when your faith is tested, when your hope is diminished and when your love turns weak, for as long as we touch and hold on to the Lord, he tells us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)
My dear young brothers and sisters, you have come from many parts of India and other countries, the Church has great hope in you. You are the future of the Church; you are the backbone of the service in the Church. You are called to ever more challenging and demanding ministries in the Church. You are called to be witnesses in times of challenges and difficulties to be beacons of faith, hope and love of Christ. Open your hearts and minds to God and allow him to whisper into your inmost heart the plan of God, the purpose of his will, the choice of his mission and the demands placed upon you. Be ready in season and out of season to be transformed and sent to spread the good news among peoples who have not yet heard of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI asked “How many people also in our time are in search of God, in search of Jesus and of his Church, in search of divine mercy, and are waiting for a “sign” that will touch their minds and their hearts! The Evangelist reminds us that the only “sign” is Jesus raised on the cross. Jesus who died and rose is the absolutely sufficient sign. Through him we can understand the truth about life and obtain salvation” (Pope Benedict XVI). In your fidelity to the Lord, you are filled with joy in his assurance when he promised: “I am with you always, to the close of the age”. (Mt 28:20).
May you experience God during this time of prayer and praise and continue to live in faith, hope, and love to be filled with the power and glory of Christ. Thank you and God bless you.