TMS Annual Meeting
Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam
Apostolic Nunciature of Thailand, 23 January 2017
Our Lady of the Miraculous Retreat House, Chachoengsao.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is a great joy for me to join you today during the annual meeting of the Thai Missionary Society. I express my gratitude to Rev. Fr. Adriano Pelosin, Superior of the TMS, for his kind invitation extended to me to preside over the Holy Mass on this occasion. We offer this Holy Mass for all the TMS missionaries, so that your missionary endeavors may be blessed by the Lord and bear good fruits according to His will.
Thai Missionary Society
The Thai Missionary Society was initiated by the will of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand about 26 years ago. I remember that, in September 2015, you celebrated 25th Anniversary of Thai Missionary Society. And this year January 2017, you have come together for your annual retreat and for your General Chapter. In these years, TMS has grown up under the blessing of the Lord. From a small seed sown in the soil of Thailand, it has grown up and become a big tree.
Congratulations! Now TMS has 17 members and 2 associates. 4 TMS priests are working in Cambodia, 3 in Laos (1 in Luang Prabang, 2 in Thakhek). TMS priests are working in the North of Thailand among the Hill tribes (Chiang Rai) in the diocese of Chiang Mai. There are also two diocesan priests working with TMS as associates and 9 sisters from different congregations (7 in Cambodia and 2 in Thailand). I wish and pray that this annual meeting may bear good fruits for yourselves and your mission works for the Kingdom of God.
Gospel: Mark 3:22-30
In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus in a delicate situation. The Evangelist Mark gives us a clear picture of the conflict that grows between Jesus and the Scribes, religious authorities of that time. Even the relatives of Jesus thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3:20-21). The Scribes slandered against Jesus by saying the Beelzebul was in him, and that it was through the prince of devils that he drove out the devils.
They thought Jesus was against the good doctrine that they were trying to defend. They were afraid to lose their leadership. Whereas, people were amazed by Jesus who taught with authority, who healed people from different sorts of diseases, drove out demos to liberate the persons who were under the power of the evil one. Jesus is stronger than the devil.
We can see in the response of Jesus how he denounced the absurdity of the slander: How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household is divided against itself, that household can never last. I suppose you are familiar with the saying: “United we stand, divided we fall.” To be united as members of the Thai Missionary Society is vital/important to realize your mission to bear fruit, fruit that will last. I am confident to say that your mission will continue to grow and progress as you work and pray together among yourselves, that you work in close collaboration with other people including our lay faithful, our religious, even with persons of other denominations, our non-Catholic brothers and sisters who seek for peace, to spread the Good News of the Gospel.
“Jubilee of Mercy”
Last year, following the invitation of Pope Francis, the whole Church has celebrated the “Jubilee of Mercy”. (beginning from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady on 8 December 2015, to be concluded on the Solemnity of Christ the King on 20 November 2016.) It was an excellent occasion to meditate on the mystery of divine love and live it in our daily lives. The love of God, the divine mercy is the core of the Gospel.
In the Gospel we find the teaching of Jesus who shows us divine mercy: the well-known parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the return of the “prodigal son” (cf. Luke 15:1-32). The Gospel tells us the actions of Jesus who reveals God’s love and mercy towards us. The call of Matthew, a tax collector: with a look full of mercy, the Lord called Matthew, a known sinner, a traitor of his own people who enriched himself with the money of others. When Jesus called him in his mercy (“Miserando atque eligendo”), Matthew got up at once and followed Jesus, becoming one of the Apostles (Matthew 2:13-14). In his mercy, Jesus forgave an adulterous woman from her sins and opened a way of new life for her, saying: “Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more.” (John 8:11). God’s mercy opens a new life for us sinners.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Be joyful, be happy as you spread the Gospel, the Good News of salvation, with your dedication, with you way of living. All your endeavors are only possible because the Holy Spirit works among you and within you all. The Holy Spirit works among you and within you all. The Holy Spirit is at work in all your lives. You will face trials and difficulties, but with the help of the Lord Jesus you will overcome these challenges with prayers and good works.
As the Holy Father Pope Francis said, “The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel 2013). I entrust all of you, your ministry, your expectations and your difficulties to the heart of Mary, our Mother, invoking her protection upon you.
With the works of Saint Paul, I pray: “May the God of peace furnish you with all that is good and may He carry out in you what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21).