Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 44 • NOV 03 - 09, 2018

01 Cover

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:54 AM ]

03 Index

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:53 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:52 AM ]

06 Editorial - To listen, to be a neighbour, to bear witness

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:48 AM ]

Pope Francis' Homily at the Holy Mass for the Closing of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

The account we have just heard is the last of those that the evangelist Mark relates about the itinerant ministry of Jesus, who is about to enter Jerusalem to die and to rise. Bartimaeus is thus the last of those who follow Jesus along the way; from a beggar along the road to Jericho, he becomes a disciple who walks alongside the others on the way to Jerusalem. We too have walked alongside one another; we have been a "synod". This Gospel seals three fundamental steps on the journey of faith.

First, let us consider Bartimaeus. His name means "son of Timaeus". That is how the Gospel describes him: "Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus" (Mk 10:46). Yet, oddly, his father is nowhere to be found. Bartimaeus lies alone on the roadside, far from home and fatherless. He is not loved, but abandoned. He is blind, and no one listens to him; when he tried to speak, everyone told him to keep quiet. Jesus hears his plea. When he goes to Him, He lets him speak. It was not hard to guess what Bartimaeus wanted: clearly, a blind person wants to see or regain his sight. But Jesus takes His time; He takes time to listen. This is the first step in helping the journey of faith: listening. It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.

Instead, many of those with Jesus ordered Bartimaeus to be quiet (cf. v. 48). For such disciples, a person in need was a nuisance along the way, an obstacle unexpected and unforeseen. They preferred their own timetable above that of the Master, their own talking over listening to others. They were following Jesus, but they had their own plans in mind. This is a risk constantly to guard against. Yet, for Jesus, the cry of those pleading for help is not a nuisance, but a challenge. How important it is for us to listen to life! The children of the heavenly Father are concerned with their brothers and sisters, not with useless chatter, but with the needs of their neighbours. They listen patiently and lovingly, just as God does to us and to our prayers, however repetitive they may be. God never grows tired; He is always happy when we seek Him. May we too ask for the grace of a heart that listens. I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you; if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears. As Christ's Church, we want to listen to you with love, certain of two things: that your lives are precious in God's eyes, because God is young and loves young people, and that your lives are precious in our eyes too, and indeed necessary for moving forward.

After listening, a second step on the journey of faith is to be a neighbour. Let us look at Jesus: He does not delegate someone from the "large crowd" following Him, but goes personally to meet Bartimaeus. He asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?" (v. 51). What do you want… – Jesus is completely taken up with Bartimaeus; He does not try to sidestep him. …me to do – not simply to speak, but to do something. …for you – not according to my own preconceived ideas, but for you, in your particular situation. That is how God operates. He gets personally involved with preferential love for every person. By His actions, He already communicates His message. Faith thus flowers in life.

Faith passes through life. When faith is concerned purely with doctrinal formulae, it risks speaking only to the head, without touching the heart. And when it is concerned with activity alone, it risks turning into mere moralizing and social work. Faith, instead, is life: it is living in the love of God who has changed our lives. We cannot choose between doctrine and activism. We are called to carry out God's work in God's own way: in closeness, by cleaving to Him, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters. Closeness: that is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith, and not a secondary aspect.

Being a neighbour means bringing the newness of God into the lives of our brothers and sisters. It serves as an antidote to the temptation of easy answers and fast fixes. Let us ask ourselves whether, as Christians, we are capable of becoming neighbours, stepping out of our circles and embracing those who are not "one of us", those whom God ardently seeks. A temptation so often found in the Scriptures will always be there: the temptation to wash our hands. That is what the crowd does in today's Gospel. It is what Cain did with Abel, and Pilate with Jesus; they washed their hands. But we want to imitate Jesus and, like Him, to dirty our hands. He is the way (cf. Jn 14:6), who stopped on the road for Bartimaeus. He is the light of the world (cf. Jn 9:5), who bent down to help a blind man. Let us realise that the Lord has dirtied His hands for each one of us. Let us look at the Cross, start from there and remember that God became my neighbour in sin and death. He became my neighbour: it all starts from there. And when, out of love of Him, we too become neighbours, we become bringers of new life. Not teachers of everyone, not specialists in the sacred, but witnesses of the love that saves.

The third step is to bear witness. Let us consider the disciples who, at Jesus' request, called out to Bartimaeus. They do not approach a beggar with a coin to shut him up, or to dispense advice. They go in Jesus' name. Indeed, they say only three words to him, and all three are words of Jesus: "Take heart; get up, he is calling you" (v. 49). Everywhere else in the Gospel, Jesus alone says, "Take heart", for He alone "heartens" those who heed Him. In the Gospel, Jesus alone says, "Get up", and heals in spirit and body. Jesus alone calls, transforming the lives of those who follow Him, helping raise up the fallen, bringing God's light to the darkness of life. So many children, so many young people, like Bartimaeus, are looking for light in their lives. They are looking for true love. And like Bartimaeus, who, in the midst of that large crowd, called out to Jesus alone, they too seek life, but often find only empty promises and few people who really care.

It is not Christian to expect that our brothers and sisters who are seekers should have to knock on our doors; we ought to go out to them, bringing not ourselves, but Jesus. He sends us, like those disciples, to encourage others and to raise them up in His name. He sends us forth to say to each person: "God is asking you to let yourself be loved by Him." How often, instead of this liberating message of salvation, have we brought ourselves, our own "recipes" and "labels" into the Church! How often, instead of making the Lord's words our own, have we peddled our own ideas as His word! How often do people feel the weight of our institutions more than the friendly presence of Jesus! In these cases, we act more like an NGO, a state-controlled agency, and not the community of the saved who dwell in the joy of the Lord.

To listen, to be a neighbour, to bear witness. The journey of faith in today's Gospel ends in a beautiful and surprising way, when Jesus says, "Go; your faith has made you well" (v. 52). Yet, Bartimaeus had made no profession of faith or done any good work; he had only begged for mercy. To feel oneself in need of salvation is the beginning of faith. It is the direct path to encountering Jesus. The faith that saved Bartimaeus did not have to do with his having clear ideas about God, but in his seeking Him and longing to encounter Him. Faith has to do with encounter, not theory. In encounter, Jesus passes by; in encounter, the heart of the Church beats. Then, not our preaching, but our witness of life will prove effective.

To all of you who have taken part in this "journey together", I say "thank you" for your witness. We have worked in communion, with frankness and the desire to serve God's people. May the Lord bless our steps, so that we can listen to young people, be their neighbours, and bear witness before them to Jesus, the joy of our lives.


08 Communio India - Dr Fr Stephen Alathara

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:44 AM ]

“Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34)

"Communio India" is an initiative of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) to assist all our Dioceses and Religious Congregations working in rural and mission areas in their pastoral ministry.

The CCBI has been deliberating for a long time on how to find ways to help and promote evangelization and pastoral ministry in Mission areas facing financial difficulty. After extensive discussions through various meetings of the Executive Committee of the CCBI, it was decided to inaugurate "Communio India" during the 29th Plenary Assembly held in Bhopal from Jan. 31 to Feb. 8, 2017.

While the Universal Church observed the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016) and soon after, declared Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Saint on September 4, 2016 as well as a model of mercy and compassion, the Latin Church in India took this historical decision, and declared "Communio India" as a response of the Indian Bishops to the appeal of Pope Francis to make the Church more merciful and compassionate.

The motto of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 was "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). Pope Francis, through the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, requested all the faithful to become more merciful and compassionate. This historical decision to begin "Communio India" to help poor dioceses and religious congregations working in the Missions was taken when the CCBI Executive Committee met at St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore on September 20, 2016.

The objectives of Communio India: (1) The Primary objective of "Communio India" is to assist our dioceses and religious congregations working in the Missions. (2) It is to build a culture of sharing among our own people in order to express solidarity with our needy brothers and sisters in the country. (3) To encourage our faithful to pray and help the Missions and the missionaries, and to promote missionary vocations. (4) To inspire our lay faithful to work in Mission areas as lay missionaries. (5) To prepare all our faithful as missionary disciples, as envisaged by Pope Francis.

09 MISSION Kerala - Fr Vijay Drego

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:43 AM ]

On October 21, 2018 (Mission Sunday), we returned from Kerala. We felt we had accomplished a mission that we had set out to fulfil. Yet, a deep sense of emptiness filled our hearts, as we realised it was just the beginning of a mission.

We are all aware of the floods that ravaged Kerala in the month of August. A clarion call to reach out to the victims invited us to make a Sunday collection that would be sent to the Centre for Social Action (Caritas India). The parishioners of Our Lady of Remedy Church, Poinsur and the children of our school collectively contributed a sum of Rs 2 lakhs. We were about to send the cheque, when Sr Annie, PSOL asked us if we could help their convent in Kerala and the neighbouring houses that were damaged due to the floods.

Fr Vijay, the Parish Priest, put a plan before the PPC – "Can we go personally to Kerala and reach out to a few families?" Having accepted this plan, we contacted the sisters in Kerala to make a survey, and find out the urgent requirements of the people staying in that area. We said that we could reach out to a minimum of 50 families. The sisters informed us that furniture and kitchen utensils was something that was urgently required.

In the meantime, we also spoke to Fr Mario, the director of the Centre for Social Action; he thought that this was a good initiative, and said that the Centre could also help out, if we were willing to reach out to people of other faiths as well; a similar amount would be given. Sr Annie collected almost Rs 1 lakh to help these troubled families. Thus, from reaching out to just 50 families, we could now reach out to 120 families.


10 A Call to Prayer - Pranali Vadgaonkar (D’Mello)

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:42 AM ]

The smoke of Satan has entered our one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I am not surprised, for this is the one true Church of Jesus Christ that He Himself established upon this earth over 2000 years ago, appointing St Peter the first Pope. This Church has stood the test of time, even though it has made mistakes in the past as well (many Popes have humbly admitted and apologised for it, like the eras of the Crusades and the teachings about the world being flat etc.). Many will quote to you regarding these eras and also about what is going on in the Church right now (homosexuality, money scandals and the like), and deceive you to leave this Church, and join elsewhere. I feel passionately about this subject, as I am a convert— from a Hindu Brahmin to a "born again" Protestant group, to a Catholic and loving it.

Many Catholics seem confused, and I see a few leaving (due to many reasons). It saddens my heart, and calls me to do something in my own small capacity. Small it may be, but when my Master calls, I must act, and so I write to you all from my heart.

A lot of what you hear may be true, and yes, there are many evil things happening all around us. I would encourage each Catholic to stand firm, and not be shaken. Satan is ever so keen in destroying this Church, and no other! Now as a Faithful Catholic, or a Lukewarm Catholic or an Indifferent Catholic, you may ask what are we to do, how does this concern us? My friends, this concerns each one of us Catholics, as this is our Church. It is your Church and my Church. We are the Church.

The Lord is asking us, "When I come again, will I find faith?" Let us answer the Lord, "Yes, Lord, you will find faith." He is looking for our faith in Him alone, and not in any other theories or beliefs.


12 Addressing Mumbai’s Mounting E-Waste! - Fr Savio Silveira sdb

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:40 AM ]

India today is racing ahead on the technological highway! It is quite complimentary that we Indians are being looked upon as computer wizards by the rest of the world, and many multinational companies are outsourcing their technological operations to India. Imposing IT Parks have become a common sight in all our major cities. But beyond the big corporations and their hubs, technology has in fact become a household commodity. Computers, televisions, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, cellphones and a host of other electrical and electronic items are now visible even in remote rural homes. But there is a flip side to this technological avalanche. All these gadgets have a definite lifespan, and when that period is exhausted, they just end up as e-waste (electronic and electrical waste).

India presently generates close to 3 million tonnes of e-waste every year. According to a study by ASSOCHAM-cKinetics, India's e-waste is growing at 30 per cent per annum. Hence, it is estimated that we are likely to be generating about 5 million tonnes of electronic waste by 2020! And what we particularly need to take note of, is that Mumbai is the largest producer of e-waste in India, generating about 1,20,000 tonnes annually!

The disposal of this ever-mounting e-waste poses a serious challenge, because it contains a number of toxic substances such as lead and cadmium in circuit boards; lead oxide and cadmium in monitor cathode ray tubes (CRTs); mercury in switches and flat screen monitors; cadmium in computer batteries; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in older capacitors and transformers; and brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards. E-waste also includes plastic casings, cables and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cable insulation that release highly toxic dioxins and furans, when burned to retrieve copper from the wires.


13 Mystic Mantra: Light in darkness - Fr. Dominic Emmanuel

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:38 AM ]

Soon it will be time for Deepavali — the festival celebrated to remove the darkness of evil with the light of goodness. The aim is to bring a little "light" into their dark lives (not evil, but lack of basic necessities).

In this festive season, with Dussehra just gone by, and awaiting joyously the great festival of lights — Deepavali, quite a bit has been said to help us reflect on the spiritual meanings of these very significant days for our personal life. It was nice to read on WhatsApp: "Let us fight the Ravana within us"—the symbol of evil power which, in smaller or greater degree, exists in us all. It is this evil within us, often hidden from our own selves, which I believe is the cause of much evil that goes around in our world. This includes people suffering in extreme poverty, devastation of our environment, jealousy which often turns into hatred towards others, the violence perpetrated, particularly against women and children. The list can go on. Are these not caused by the partial presence of Ravana within us?

Soon it will be time for Deepavali — the festival celebrated to remove the darkness of evil with the light of goodness. Technically, darkness is nothing but lack of light, just as evil is nothing but lack of goodness. Jesus told His disciples, "You are the light of the world." St Francis of Assisi believed, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." Would it not be worthwhile on this occasion then to ask oneself, "Which area of my personal life requires light?" or "Can I be in some way that single candle?" or "How can I bring light into dark corners of the earth?"

One way in which Christians attempted to bring "light" into dark spots of the world was by observing World Mission Sunday on October 21, 2018. Every October, this Sunday is observed as the day when, in every church around the world, the faithful donate an extra bit in the collection basket, which eventually goes to people of a poor country who suffer due to poverty and sickness.


14 Christian Reflections on the Festival of Light - David Sorge

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 1, 2018, 3:36 AM ]

Diwali, the festival of light, is one with several stories attached to it. The most popular in the Hindu tradition is the story of the return of Rama, the king of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to his capital city after a 14-year exile and a war in which he defeated the demon-king Ravana, a story recorded in the epic poem, the Ramayana. It commemorates the people of Ayodhya, who lit oil lamps along the road to light the returning king's path in the darkness of a new moon night, and welcome them back, finally, to their home.

Given that Rama is very frequently identified with the Hindu god Vishnu, the preserver, and his wife Sita with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, the holiday is as such devoted primarily to the worship of these deities. However, there is much in the imagery of Diwali that evokes the Bible's own imagery of light and darkness, and provides a fascinating and distinctly Indian frame for the master narrative of the Bible — the story of God redeeming humanity through the life and work of Jesus.

Like other religious traditions, the Bible is awash with metaphors of light and darkness, starting right from the very beginning. The first recorded act of God in the creation of the heavens and earth was to say, "Let there be light," and separate the light from the darkness. This is a uniquely appropriate beginning, as God created in order to show forth His own character and attributes (see Romans 1:20). First and foremost, light is a metaphor for God's own character. "God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all." He is pure, beautiful, and the source of knowledge and truth. In fact, this aspect of God's character is a source of a radically God-centered epistemology — not "seeing is believing," but "In your light, we see light," in the words of Psalm 36:9.

Not only is light an expression of God's character, it also symbolises the Word of God in its other forms, particularly its written form. The author of the Bible's longest Psalm expresses it this way: "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path." It is through the Word that we learn to distinguish good and evil, wisdom and folly, reality and illusion, falsehood and truth.


1-10 of 15