Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ Prayers for People of Asia

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

January 25, 2018

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy continues reflections on Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the people of Asia and Tom Kendzia’s hymn Now is the Time.

…Be with us, you who say, “Do not be afraid.” Make us your own, now is the time. We begin this new year singing the words of Tom Kendzia’s hymn. God consoles us and sends our fear away. Despite the happenings in our world, God remains the Creator, the Almighty one directing the proceedings of our universe. Now is always the time for God’s work.

In our country and in our Community we are safe from fear in so many ways. Yet, countless others throughout the world do not enjoy the level of safety that we do. Pope Francis asks us to send our prayers once again to the people of Asia. His intention for this month is: That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

One has only to do an internet search regarding the Church in Asia to find such language as, underground Church, risk their lives, hostile country, religious-governmental tensions, protests, rebels, ban on Christians, persecution, flight, embattled Christians. This is an unfamiliar lexicon for us. It surely does, however, confirm the need for prayer in this part of the world. These Christian communities need to be assured of that phrase “Do not be afraid.” Our prayerful support can be that assurance.

Our further consideration of freedom from fear leads us back to the words of Father Federico Lombardi, former papal spokesman. He writes, “The presence of evil in the world is a terrible, pervasive and powerful reality. Yet, the power of evil in the world is the most difficult test for our faith: Where is God? Where is justice? The dynamics of communication generally give particular weight to the worst news, disasters, conflicts and scandals, and so the darkness of the evil grows thicker and thicker. Unfortunately these things are true, but they are not the whole truth. God is also at work in the world. You have to open your eyes to see it, your ears to learn how to hear it.” We place our hope in and our prayer behind the goodness that lives in the faithful who labor for the Kingdom in Asia.

In terms of our own Community, we look to our Core Value statements and find, We work at building community by being more sensitive to each other. In our understanding and empathy toward one another, we build a stronger Community, a body of faith which entreats the God who does not know constraints of time and space. In our efforts to be sensitive to the needs and realities of each other, we also build up the Body of Christ which extends throughout the world. In our prayer, in our actions, in our efforts, let us remember that, now is the time!

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