Letter from Archbishop Okada at the closure of the Year of Faith

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    Nov 24, 2013

     

    Dear people of Tokyo diocese,

     

    The Year of Faith that started on October 11, 2012 comes to its last day on the feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013.

    Pope Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio The Door of Faith exhorted us to learn from Christ “on whom our faith depends from start to finish” (cf. Hebrews 12:2). The life of Jesus of Nazareth is the criterion and example for the lifestyle of every believer.

     

    When we came close to the Year of Faith I sent Approaching the Year of Faith (letter of the Archbishop) to you all and asked you to exert yourself wholeheartedly to realize the following five items:

    1. To know Jesus Christ more deeply
    2. To study Vatican II and learn the Catechism of the Catholic Church
    3. To study the Creed
    4. To [celebrate] the liturgy and sacraments, [to do] daily prayer and meditation
    5. To witness the love of faith.

     

    Dear all of you, I ask you to now read Approaching the Year of Faith once more, and to give some quiet time to reflect on how you have lived this year.

    The Gospel of the feast of Christ the King (Lk 23:35-43) tells us about Jesus who is ridiculed, scorned and dispised. Above Jesus’ cross an inscription was affixed that read: “This is the King of the Jews.” The soldiers jeered: “If you’re King of the Jews, save yourself.” (Lk 23:37)

    Here “Christ the King” is described as attaining his miserable end. In the first reading of today, David comes on the scene who had been Juda’s and Israel’s king for 40 years. David has been the ideal of a king. The Gospel speaks about Jesus Christ being king in a way opposite to that of David.

    The death of this Jesus redeemed us, it was a death to bring us the forgiveness of sin. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and to pray for those who persecute us, and while putting into practice his own teaching he ended his life on earth. Jesus’ life has been one of offering himself in order to express the love of God his Father who forgives the sinner and saves the sinner. We, disciples of Jesus, have to endure the trials our Lord has suffered. That means to love those who persecute us, who disdain us, and to ask good things for these people.

    To love the sinner does not mean to ignore sin. Sin is sin, evil is evil. To love a person who has sinned signifies to suffer for that sinner. The apostle Paul says: “Do not repay anyone evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.” (Ro 12:17) “Love does no evil to the neighbor.” (Ro 13:10)

    The problem of why sin and evil exist in this world, which God has created, troubles us. Before the absurdities of the world we shrink back. Faith precisely believes and lives God’s love in a world where evil exists. Life is a journey with continuous trials, a ongoing fight with evil.

     

    Jesus taught us the Our Father. The Lord’s Prayer is said to be the summary of the Gospel. Jesus is teaching us to struggle with evil, and to pray for that purpose: “And deliver us from evil.”

    The original Greek word for ‘evil’ can also be translated as ‘evil spirits’. It means that our fight is a fight with ‘evil / evil spirits’. When reading the letter to the Christians of Ephesus, we are told as follows:

    “Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities. With the powers. With the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:10-12)

    The fight with evil is a fight with the structural evil / social evil that exists in this world. While learning the Church’s social doctrine, we must not omit to make our utmost efforts to establish justice and peace on earth. I would like that you now reflect once on what kind of effort you have made to evangelize society, and on what efforts you’ve made to realize the priority objectives of Tokyo diocese.

     

    I pray that Christ the Lord may bless you all as “children of the light” (Eph 5:8), that He may sustain, illuminate and support you.

     

     

    November 24, 2013 on the Feast of Christ the King

    +Peter Takeo Okada

    Archbishop of Tokyo

     

     

     

     

    P.S.: In connection with the Year of Faith I recommend a prayer, said to be from Mother Teresa, which I think is very good for imitating the life of our Lord Jesus.

    O Jesus, free me from my wanting to be appreciated and to be loved,

    O Jesus, free me from my wanting to be respected and to be honored.

    O Jesus, free me from my fear to be dispised.

    O Jesus, free me from my fear to be looked down upon and to be rebuked,

    from my fear to be slandered and to be misunderstood,

    somehow free me, Lord. Amen.

CTIC