Card Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, delivered the homily in the closing Mass of the Conference on the Family held recently in Bangkok, Thailand, by Couples for Christ (CFC), an international Catholic lay movement whose aims is to revitalise and strengthen the family and Christian values of which they are the bearer. In his address, Card Bo said that Christian couples must adhere to the teachings of Pope Francis and imitate Jesus by looking to the poor, the sick, the marginalised, all those who live on the edges of the world.
“This”, he added, “is now my and your challenge. This is the great challenge of Christian couples: seeing without looking, hearing without listening, living without loving with objects replacing loved ones”. In his address to the CFC, which is present in various countries and deals with issues related to the family, society and human life, Card Bo warned of the dangers of a life that does not follow “the perspective” given by Jesus on family life.
Addressing the couples present, the archbishop of Yangon, who is also Myanmar’s first cardinal, reminded them of Pope Francis, who said that every family is like a mini church that must bear witness to Christ’s values. The pontiff, he noted, “has become the moral conscience of an uncaring world,” a world that does not take care of those who suffer, those who are marginalised, living on the edges of the world. For this reason, he calls on each family to “look at Christ and the poor” to renew their vocation.
Indeed, even before he created the priesthood and the consecrated life, “God created the family” and “He himself lives in the family of the Trinity.” Thus, “as we gather as couples for Christ we acknowledge that we are the primary missionaries, primary apostles as a family.” The Burmese cardinal centred his argument on the difference between “seeing” and “looking”, turning again to the words of Francis.
“When the Pope calls on us to ‘look at Jesus, look at the poor’, he is asking us to move from a physical action to a profoundly spiritual and mystical experience. In our family life, this shift from ‘seeing’ to ‘looking’ is a great challenge and grace”. “Looking is what we do with our heart,” Card Bo explained. “Just seeing with physical eyes is a sickness. Seeing without love, seeing without heart is a sickness. It needs healing.”
For him, Mother Teresa of Kolkata and many Gospel stories in which Jesus takes care of the poor, the poor, the marginalised, like the story of the woman caught in adultery or that of Zacchaeus, are examples to follow. Lastly, the prelate talked about many issues and challenges that affect the world today. In Myanmar “we were persecuted” for decades. “Our sight was restricted. Now is the time” to move from seeing to looking.
“Every day,” he said, “30,000 children die of starvation in this world.” Likewise, thousands of men and women are victims of human trafficking, sex slaves sold in neighbouring countries. In light of this, “we must be aware that this is not the work of priests and nuns alone. It is the work of all Christians, especially couples committed to one another and to Christ”.