Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of India gave one of the talks at the recent Asian Lay Peoples Meeting in Seoul. He began with a story of a priest in his diocese who went frequently to a grocery store in the neighborhood. On one occasion, the owner asked him to recommend a good book to read. The only book he had in Hindi was the New Testament, which he gave to him.
A few days later when he returned to the store, the owner asked, excitedly, "Is it true that Jesus rose from the dead? It says that he died and rose from the dead, did he really come back from the dead?"
"Yes that is true," said the priest. He is alive today and is working through me." The owner again asked, "Why wasn't it mentioned before? You should make this wonderful news known." We, the bishop stresses, have been called to deliver this news here in Asia.
The Cardinal then told the story of the Jesuit priest Constant Lievens, the apostle of the Chotanagpur, and the tribal people of central India. Before he arrived in 1885 they had no hope; they worked at menial tasks to eke out a living.
When the Jesuit arrived, there were only 56 Catholics. At the end of seven years, at which time he had contracted tuberculosis, it increased to 80,000.How could he move the hearts of so many of these poor tribal people? He listened to their sad stories. He learned their language. He learned the laws having to do with the ownership of land and then helped to free them from the control of the landowners. He gained their trust and they began to trust in God and themselves. This is the miracle of Chotanagpur.
Asia is the land of many poor. Pope John Paul II had the hope that Asia would become a fertile field for the harvest in the third millennium. Following the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, we know we have to go to the poor.
There are two dimensions to missions. One is the missioner, the other the message of the Gospel. We can't all go to the missions, but we can, with our way of life and thinking, be a witness to the missions.There are three areas in which we have to witness. The first is the strong call of the Gospel to go out to the poor, weak, and the suffering to love them. The second is to stand up to the corrupt political and financial powers and with courage speak the truth and witness to Jesus. We are not called to do religious activities but to be a light and the salt for the world. The third follows from this understanding: Follow the simple example of our Lord. The Cardinal finished his talk with a quote from Paul VI: "And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80).