Excerpt from Christmas letter to Columban Sisters worldwide from Myanmar.
We are united with you in heart and prayer during this very special time of year. This has truly begun as a very graced Advent for us in Myanmar. The coming of the Pope was a really joyful event and a time of celebration for all. It was very affirming for our small Catholic community in Myanmar. As one old woman said there have been 226 Popes but this is the only one who came to us. It was this coming- this presence which spoke eloquently to all. The papers said of his meeting with the Buddhist Sangha (top leaders of the Buddhist community)-the meeting was the message. His meeting with the Rohingya in Bangladesh was really an experience of ‘the word made flesh.’ As you have probably read he met 18 Rohingya individually, listened intently to their stories, cried with them, prayed with them and asked forgiveness in the name of all who had hurt them. Then he said every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. Noting how in the Muslim tradition, it is said that God took a bit of salt and mixed it with water to create man, the Pope said
“We all have a little bit of this salt. These brothers and sisters contain the salt of God. We’ll continue to help them, so their rights are recognized. We’ll not close our hearts, not look at the darker side, because today the presence of God is also called the Rohingya. Each and every one of us is his bride.”
What an Advent proclamation of God made flesh and living among us.
For us here in Mandalay and for our ministry of interfaith dialogue all of this means new hope and inspiration. In the last few days I have been so encouraged as I prepare for our interfaith celebration which will be on December 16. Usually we do most of the practical preparations ourselves with the interfaith women’s group but this year some new Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have come and said-‘let us help you with all the preparations’ .I think the Popes words have been heard;
On behalf of my Catholic brothers and sisters, I express our readiness to continue walking with you and sowing seeds of peace and healing, compassion and hope in this land.
May you have a grace-filled Christmas and a New Year full of hope and peace.