Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feast of St. Gonsalo Gracia

Goncalo Garcia.jpg
The Capuchins hailing from bassein are about 70 friars. From the Parish of St. Gonsalo Gracia we have about 25 Capuchins, from a parish which has about 4500 Catholics. The missionary work of the Franciscans is yielding a hundredfold. Today is a great day in Bassein which is 50 Km away from Bombay. 
Saint Gonsalo Garcia, O.F.M., (LatinGundisalvus GarciaPortugueseGonçalo) (1556 – 5 February 1597) was a Roman Catholic Franciscan friar from India, who died as a martyr in Japan and is venerated as a saint. The first Indian to attain sainthood[1] was born in the western coastal town of Vasai, now an exurb of the city of Mumbai,[2] he hailed from the town -- then known as Baçaim in Portuguese, later Bassein in English -- during the time the town was under Portuguese colonial rule. The festival of St. Gonsalo has come to be held on the first Sunday nearest to the neap tide following Christmas in Vasai.[2] St. Gonsalo Garcia was born as Gonçalo Garcia in 1557. Documents in the Lisbon Archives (ANTT) describe Gonsalo Garcia as a ‘natural de Agaçaim ’ or ‘resident of agashi’ village in Bassein. His father was a Portuguese soldier (although his surname, Garcia, is Castillian) and his mother a Canarim (pl. canarins), that was how the Portuguese called the inhabitants of the Konkan. This term extended often to all the indigenous people from what was Portuguese India at the time. Modern scholars such as Gense and Conti accept the fact that Gonsalo’s mother was from Bassein.
According to Garcia's companion, Marcelo de Ribandeneira, who became a historian and considered as the most authentic source on the life of St. Gonsalo Garcia, the saint once told him that his mother was from Bassein and his father a Portuguese soldier. Hence the Papal Bull declaring Gonsalo Garcia as a saint mentions that he was Basseinite (A native of Bassein). As the child of a European father and an Indian mother he was a Mestiço in the Portuguese sense of term.

The God who comes to meet us in the Bible does not reign , not indifferent to human suffering , in a distance place. He ' a God who , on the contrary , takes to heart all this suffering. The God who became man in Jesus does not leave us stunned : God is at the heart of our lives, he is touched by our human suffering , there is with us our questions, : "My God, why have you forsaken me ? "(Mk 15:34) . John the Baptist said of Jesus: " Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Here is this God who lets himself be wounded by the wickedness of man who lets himself be moved by the suffering of this earth.
He wanted to get as close as possible to us, is in the bosom of our life, with its sorrows and its contradictions , its flaws and its depths .
It is in this that our Christian faith is distinguished from any other religion . Jesus on the cross - God in the midst of human suffering : this is to us incredible comfort . He is close to my sorrow , he understands me , knows how I feel. 

No comments: