Your Eminence, Your Lordships, dear fathers, religious sisters and brothers and my dear people of God.
Emblazoned on the arch above this altar are the words, “do not be afraid I am with you.” There are some who hold that these words appear in these or in similar words, 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year. From Abraham in Genesis to the disciples in the Gospels, the message of God to his people has always been one of hope and encouragement.
But these words also have special significance for us as family here at St Jude’s. Our principal patron St Jude, is the patron of the least and the lost. Through him, devotees who come in fear, find an intercessor most sure. But this Church also has a second patron in St John Paul II. Seven years ago before I left on a trip to Rome, our parishioners came with a request that we take on the unfinished task of searching for a plot of land.
At that point I was least convinced of the idea but yet at the tomb of St John Paul II I laid our petition. “If it is the will of God” I said, “grant us through your intercession a plot of land.” This is the saint who all his life encouraged the youth and the faithful all over the world to not be afraid. I arrived back in Mumbai on the first day of the novena in preparation for the feast of St Jude. Our patron saints in heaven must have collaborated overtime during those nine days for on the last day of the novena we were told there was a plot of land. And here we are today standing on the very plot of land that we obtained through the intercession of two saints who taught us not be afraid.
Over these last six years, we learnt that because the wind is against you it does not mean that God is not for you. We learnt that God does not place us in the storm to test us; he puts us in the storm to teach us, and teach us he did. We had to learn to pray the panic away. Often we wanted wine and He pointed to water but like Mary we never told Jesus the solution, we told him our need; like Mary we did not know what to do but we knew who to go to.
Your Eminence, you might recall the very first time I came to you with this proposal; you were not convinced. Yet stubborn as I was, I kept coming back to you till finally as if to discourage me you asked me, “are you sure you can build this Church?” I remember clearly the answer for I know it did not come from flesh and blood but from our father in heaven. “I said to you, “I am sure of nothing, I am only sure of Jesus, if that’s good for you it’s good for me.” You, with that fatherly gaze smiled at this impetuous son of yours and consented. Today, I thank God for that YES of yours which has seen this project to completion.
Over these last six years, we learnt that because the wind is against you it does not mean that God is not for you.