TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013—Rules do not make up faith in the same way that Christianity is more than just morality, a World Youth Day (WYD) catechist-bishop tells pilgrims. 

“Christianity is not even a spirituality, some kind of knowledge or idea about religion…It is a personal relationship with Jesus,” Chittagong Bishop Lawrence Subrata Howlader told English-speaking WYD pilgrims, which included Filipino delegates, last July 25 at the São Francisco parish in Rio de Janeiro.  

Not about rules 

“This faith is not a philosophy, not a knowledge of the founder of the Catholic Church,” he clarified further, saying a distinction should also be made between simply “knowing about” and knowing Jesus as a personal friend. 

It is easy, Bishop Howlader explained, to get lost in the idea that religion is about “knowing things” or adhering to concepts.  

If believers tend to be preoccupied with memorizing philosophical methods or following rules and regulations, Howlader said, they fall into the same trap that caused the downfall of the Pharisees and scribes during Jesus’ time. 

Faith that is based on a person  

[Christianity] is a way of of life — a life that springs from our relationship with Jesus,” Bishop Howlader told some 400 pilgrims from countries like Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Ireland and the U.S. 

Howlader, who was one of an estimated 250 bishops who gave catechesis during the WYD, was quick to link Christian faith to discipleship and how all believers are called to follow Jesus closely. 

“Discipleship means you talk with [Jesus], you feel a kind of love, a very intimate type of relationship,” he explained. 

When a person develops this friendship with Jesus, according to Howlader, telling others about him is inevitable.  

“When we fall in love with Him, we cannot keep silent,” he added. 

The 27th WYD is ongoing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]