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Be the proof of Christianity for people today, nuncio tells pilgrims at Knock

By editor - 08 April, 2013

The papal nuncio has appealed to Irish people to be ‘apostles at home’ and to be the proof of Christianity for non believers.

Archbishop Charles Brown was speaking to a large congregation at Mercy Sunday at Knock shrine yesterday.

The special celebration marking the Year of Faith and praying that abortion would not be legalised, drew people from all over Ireland.

Archbishop Brown compared the stories of two biblical characters, each of whom had difficulty in believing – Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, and Thomas the Apostle.  But whereas Zechariah’s lack of belief lead to a period of muteness, the dynamic in relation to Thomas is different.  “Proof is given to him. Thomas is not penalized, as Zechariah was, for his lack of faith.  He is not condemned.  He is not punished.  In fact, he is helped in his lack of faith. The Lord quite literally reaches out to him in his unbelief and heals his lack of faith,” said Archbishop Brown.

The difference between the stories of Zechariah and Thomas was that Divine Mercy had come “in the person of Jesus Christ, God made man”.

“The encounter with God’s mercy makes Thomas a believer and, as a result, an apostle,” said the nuncio.  Tradition has it that afterwards the apostle travelled, bringing the good news to the people of the East, to Syria and Persia, before being martyred in Madras, India.

In the celebration of Mass, said Archbishop Brown, the Lamb of God who “takes away the sins of the world” and who appeared in Knock in August 1879, encounters each person.

“It is crucially important that we who receive the mercy of the Lamb through the sacrament of Confession and who receive his Body and his Blood in the Mystery of the Eucharist become, like Saint Thomas, his apostles in our world today.”

Archbishop Brown said that each person could be an apostle “at home” by meeting Jesus in the sacraments, by growing in knowledge of him by studying the faith, in particular the catechism of the Catholic Church, and by carrying his message to the world.

“Invite people who have abandoned the faith to come back to the Church.  Encourage young men and young women to give themselves to Christ as priests and religious sisters; pray for vocations.  Defend courageously the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception in the womb; safeguard the right to life of mothers and their unborn babies.  Serve the poor and marginalized and uphold their dignity,” he appealed.

What is the proof of Christianity for those who cannot see Jesus the way Thomas saw him, he asked. “Individual Christians.  We are the proof of Christianity.  Christians who live their Catholic faith in a radiant and wholehearted way.”

Archbishop Brown also emphasised that the greatest in the Kingdom of God were “not the ordained ministers, but the saints”.   Pointing to Sister Faustina, the saint of Divine Mercy, he said her “openness to receive the message of Lord and her faithfulness to him, even in the midst of misunderstandings and contradictions, made her his apostle, his witness”.

And as a result, devotion to Divine Mercy has spread throughout the entire world, he added.

by Susan Gately