Myanmar Cardinal Calls on Suffering Christians to ‘Humanize Those Who Dehumanize You’

Newly appointed cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar talks during an interview at his office in Yangon on January 6, 2015. Pope Francis on January 4 named 20 new cardinals, a majority of them from Africa, Asia and Latin America, increasingly key areas as the Roman Catholic Church's support shifts …
Soe Than WIN/AFP via Getty

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo lamented Sunday the fate of the people of Myanmar “tossed in the stormy seas of man-made disaster” following the February 1 military coup d’état.

In his Sunday sermon at Mass in Yangon, Cardinal Bo (pictured) compared the afflicted people of Myanmar with the 12 apostles beset by a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee and the apparent indifference of Jesus to their plight.

“We come here to pray for the thousands who are in the jungles soaked in cruel monsoon rains including the children and old people,” he said. “We pray for Loikaw and Mindat where the church and all the people, under a very painful way of the Cross.”

“We feel the pain of those innocent people, their tears, their brokenness, their sense of abandonment.  We have come to knock at the doors of heaven, for peace,” he added.

The more than 120,000 people displaced in the conflict zones of Mindat and Loikaw and those wounded inside the churches are “tossed like the boat we see in the Gospel today,” Bo said. “There was a storm and the boat was experiencing monstrous waves and death seems to be very near to the disciples.”

“We are like those disciples, tossed in the stormy seas of man-made disaster: of unending war, anguished displacement, inflicted starvation, death, detention and despair,” he said. “How many seas my dear Myanmar people have crossed in the leaky boats of hope and despair?”

The cardinal went on to note that as darkness “engulfs this great nation once again,” the cry of the broken spirit of the people of Myanmar rises to the altar of God complaining, “Lord, does it not concern you that we perish?”

“Faith is not meant only for happy times,” the cardinal recalled. “Faith is the star that shines in the darkest nights.”

“Faith is feeling the presence of God in our utmost feeling of abandonment,” he continued. “Faith is crying out from the Cross: My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

The cardinal also reflected on the mystery of evil and the choices made that destroy the lives of others.

“Evil men do awful things to fellow human beings,” he said. They did that to Jesus. They did that to Job, a very honest man. They did that to all the prophets. They do it to our people now.”

“There are times when evil seems to have overcome the good,” he noted, when the temptation comes “to lose hope.”

“We grieve for those who died, those who were tortured, those who disappeared,” Bo continued. “In all this we affirm life, we affirm that in our sorrow and shattered ness we share a deep faith: we are all brothers and sisters, it is God who created us to share everything.”

“We affirm life even for those who chose to take our lives,” he said.

The cardinal concluded his address with a lengthy exhortation for the people of Myanmar to act as true Christians and to pray for those who torture and persecute them.

“Pray for the humanity of those who kill,” he said. Let us all ‘enter the battlefield of prayer — become prayer warriors!’ In the coming months, let every knee bend and every tongue pray for peace in this land.”

The cardinal went on to call for prayers for all those who perished, those in prison, those who disappeared, but also for all armed groups, and even for those who terrorize them.

“Give humanity a chance, humanize those who dehumanize you. That is the ultimate victory,” he said.


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