APOSTOLIC PILGRIMAGE TO INDIA
FATHER KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA
SISTER ALFONSA MUTTATHUPANDATHU
HOMILY OF SAINT JOHN PAUL II
Nahru Stadium of Kottayam
Saturday, 8 February 1986
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to the little ones” (Mt 11:25).
What things has the Lord hidden? What mysteries has he revealed? Truly the deepest ones, the mysteries of his own divine life, those known here on earth only by him, only by Christ himself. For he says: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”.
And behold, the Son does reveal these things. At the same time, he reveals the Father. The Father is revealed through the Son. And to whom does the Son reveal these things? He reveals them to those whom he chooses: “for such was your gracious will”, Jesus tells the Father. He reveals these things to the little ones.
Today, in this Sacred Liturgy, we wish to unite ourselves in a special way with Christ the Lord. Together with him, we wish to bless the Father, for the particular love which he has shown to a son and daughter of the Church in India. We praise the Father for his countless blessings during the two thousand years that the Church has existed on Indian soil. With Christ, we glorify the Father for the love that he has shown to the little ones of Kerala and all India.
Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara was born here in Kerala, and for nearly all of his sixty-five years of earthly life he laboured generously for the renewal and enrichment of the Christian life. His deep love for Christ filled him with apostolic zeal and made him especially careful to promote the unity of the Church. With great generosity, he collaborated with others, especially brother priests and religious, in the work of salvation.
In co-operation with Fathers Thomas Palackal and Thomas Porukara, Father Kuriakose founded an Indian religious congregation for men, now known as the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. Later, with the help of an Italian missionary, Father Leopold Beccaro, he started an Indian religious congregation for women, the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. These congregations grew and flourished, and religious vocations became better understood and appreciated. Through the common efforts of the members of new religious families, his hopes and works were multiplied many times over.
Father Kuriakose’s life, and the lives of these new religious, were dedicated to the service of the Syro-Malabar Church. Under his leadership or inspiration, a good number of apostolic initiatives were undertaken: the establishment of seminaries for the education and formation of the clergy, the introduction of annual retreats, a publishing house for Catholic works, a house to care for the destitute and dying, schools for general education and programmes for the training of catechumens. He contributed to the Syro-Malabar liturgy and spread devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Family. In particular, he dedicated himself to encouraging and counselling Christian families, convinced as he was of the fundamental role of the family in the life of society and the Church.
But no apostolic cause was dearer to the heart of this great man of faith than that of the unity and harmony within the Church. It was as if he had always before his mind the prayer of Jesus, on the night before his Sacrifice on the Cross: “That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us”. Today the Church solemnly recalls with love and gratitude all his efforts to resist threats of disunity and to encourage the clergy and faithful to maintain unity with the See of Peter and the universal Church. His success in this, as in all his many undertakings, was undoubtedly due to the intense charity and prayer which characterised his daily life, his close communion with Christ and his love for the Church as the visible Body of Christ on earth.
Truly extraordinary is this day in the history of the Church and Christianity on Indian soil. It is important, too, in the history of the pastoral ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Saint Peter. It is the first time that he has had the joy of raising to the glory of the altars a son and a daughter of the Church in India, in their native land.
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