Listening to the Shepherd

Having listened to the Word of God, participants were invited to listen to their local church community and leaders with the MJDYPD Assembly the next morning, November 20.

Dec 17, 2021

Bishop Bernard Paul flanked by Msgr Peter Ng and Msgr Michcel Mannayagam.

Having listened to the Word of God, participants were invited to listen to their local church community and leaders with the MJDYPD Assembly the next morning, November 20. The Assembly started with praise and worship, and participation was both online via ZOOM and physically at MAJODI Centre which hosted Bishop Bernard Paul, Msgr Peter Ng and Msgr Michcel Mannayagam as panellists for the Assembly. The panellists gave their opening speeches in BM, Mandarin and Tamil, after which participants were divided into their age and language groups for a sharing session and then divided again for a multicultural sharing session on what they had heard from the panellists.

Bishop Bernard spoke in both English and BM and focused his input on the voices that we hear every day, narrowing them down to three categories; (1) the voice of evil, (2) the voice of the ego and finally (3) the voice of God. The first voice comes very often from the evil one and the world, it attracts and offers pleasures but also deceives, it tempts us to take the easy way. The voices of the ego, on the other hand, are voices from within that are harsh, condemning, accusing and unforgiving. The voice of God, however, forgives, encourages, and affirms; a voice that strengthens us on the journey. Bishop Bernard reminded the participants to be aware of these voices. In this matter, Pope Francis also reminds us to stand up and be witnesses.

Bishop Bernard commented: “Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, but what have we seen? We see ourselves as downcast, blind, bullied, voiceless, spiritually dead and in bondage but, in Christ, we have risen, seen the light, goodness and beauty. We are aware of social justice, truth, integrity, and human rights, we can see with new eyes. We have been freed and we rediscover hope! “How do we witness? Not by stories that scream ‘Success! Success! Success!’ but how we are living amid confusion, amid failure? How can you dream? Why can you still smile amid difficult situations? This is witnessing. This is what young people want to hear.’

Bishop Bernard concluded by giving practical tips on discerning between the voices around us, by quieting down, identifying the voices, and choosing to hear the “encouraging, affirming and forgiving whisper of God.”

Msgrs Peter and Michcel then gave their input in Mandarin and Tamil respectively, commenting on the same theme and topic as Bishop Bernard.

A time of Question and Answer followed this sharing session to bring to the attention of Bishop and the two Monsignors on the fruits of the separate group discussions. Some of the questions asked were on practical tips for vocational discernment, the plan for the young people in the coming five years and how to continue serving when feeling discouraged or tired. All these questions were answered in different languages by the panellists. Bishop Bernard, commenting on the plans, noted that it would be a dream to see initiatives and programs that arise from the young people themselves in their communities and lived situations rather than from the top down. The Assembly ended at midday with the Prayer for the Young People of Malacca Johore Diocese.

The different listening and sharing sessions – to God’s words during the Celebration of the Word and to the Church leaders and the local community during the Assembly, culminated on the same evening with the Eucharistic Adoration. All participants were invited to listen and speak to Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament and exposed in different locations of the Diocese: at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in MAJODI Centre, Johor Bahru and also at St. Peter’s Church, Melaka. Different young people animated the liturgical celebration in their respective languages with hymns, prayers, Scripture readings and praise and worship.

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