Vol. 167 No. 23 - June 04 - June 10, 2016
The celebration of the Solemnity of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sets the tone for the month of June. Popular human piety eminently values symbols, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the ultimate source and symbol of God's mercy. It is not imaginary, but a real symbol, which represents the incarnate love of Jesus. It is the highest expression of divine love - the source from which salvation for all humanity gushes forth.
This feast is not just based on sentiment but very much rooted in Scripture. In the Gospels we find several references to the Heart of Jesus, for example, in the passage where Christ says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11:28-29)" Then there is the key story of the death of Christ in the gospel of John. When Jesus was already dead, a soldier pierced his side with a spear, and from the wound flowed blood and water (Jn. 19.33-34). It is the sign and fulfilment of prophecies: 'from the heart of Jesus, the Lamb slain on the cross, flow forgiveness and life for all men'.
The mercy of Jesus is indeed a force that gives life that raises man up! In the episode of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:11-17),when Jesus is at the funeral of the only son of a widow, His gaze falls on the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: "Seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her." This 'compassion' is the love of God for man, it is mercy, - the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term "compassion" recalls the experiences and spontaneous reaction of a mother, to the pain of her children. In this way does God love us, Scripture says.
Pope Francis asks "what is the fruit of this love? ", and answers that It is life. Jesus said to the widow of Nain, "Do not weep," and then called the dead boy and woke him as from a sleep (Lk. 13-15). "The mercy of God gives life to man, it raises him from the dead. The Lord is always watching us and awaits us with mercy. Let us not be afraid to approach him. He has a merciful heart. If we show our inner wounds, our sins, He always forgives us! Let us go to Jesus!" says the Pope.
The deepest longing of Christ's Heart is that we discover how much He loves us and the extent of His tender love for us. Frequently, cooled by selfishness, we look only inwards at ourselves, as if we are afraid to let ourselves be loved unconditionally by our Creator. No wonder then, we misuse or abuse creation, indulge in religious persecution and yearn for an economic development that increases material profits. Such development impoverishes rather than develops humanity.
The extent to which society, culture, economy, politics today need this Heart can be gauged from the dismal scenario prevailing in these areas of our lives. It is really true, the more man distances himself from God-Love the more he becomes 'heartless', agitated about a thousand things, because he has grown oblivious to the supreme rule of life: to let oneself be loved by Christ and to respond to this Love with our love.
Close to the Heart of the Son is the Heart of the Mother whose feast the Church celebrates the day after the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her Immaculate Heart – a mother's heart that has shared the "compassion" of God to the full. May Mary help us to be meek, humble and compassionate with our brothers and sisters.
The basis of Catholic concern over climate change is exemplified in psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that it holds.” In response to the wonderful gift that God has given us of clean air, life-sustaining water, fruits from the land’s harvests and even nourishment from the sea, we are called to not only honour God for these many blessings but to also do so by honouring his creation.
It is because we value our relationship with God and God’s creation that climate change is for us Catholics a profoundly spiritual, ethical, and moral issue. Climate change is not about economic theory or political platform; it is most certainly not about partisan politics or concessions to special interest groups on either side of the argument.
Climate change is about our responsibility as God’s children and people of faith to care for each other and future generations by caring for all of God’s wondrous creation.
Pope John Paul II said: “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.”
In a statement issued by the USCCB called “Renewing the earth,” our call is to be stewards of the earth. In it, the bishops pointed out that as stewards, “we seek to explore the links between concern for the person and for the earth and for natural ecology and social ecology. The web of life is One.”
In a January 2010 address Pope Benedict XVI stated, “If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life.”
The image of the village belle with a water pot balanced on her head was a romanticised inspiration for many of our creative artists. However, with the severe lack of water in many states across the country, this image is now a poignant emblem of the country’s water crisis, especially as temperatures soar higher day by day.
Water is the flow of life that binds all forms of existence – right from the tiniest of creatures and biggest of all nations to all forms of networks that constitute life on earth. Hence its scarcity brings in a breakdown like no other. In Mumbai these days water has become a rallying point as taps run dry or inadequate supplies hit us unexpectedly. I remember waking up on a Sunday morning a few months ago this year to note that there was no water supply from the municipality that day. All the weekend plans made to catch upon washing clothes and spring cleaning had to be shelved as nothing could be achieved without water. Just one day without water which we often take for granted can send us into a tizzy. I can therefore imagine the wrath of the 350 representatives from Shahapur (the tehesil that supplies 2960 million litres of water to Mumbai every day, who marched over a hundred kilometers, to the city of Mumbai), to warn us about our water usage excesses for swimming pools, washing cars, watering lawns etc. Shahapur’s four lakh population can survive for more than a year on the amount of water the tehesil supplies to Mumbai every day. No wonder the crusaders carried a dire warning, “stop taking our water supply for granted or
"When we fail to acknowledge a poor person, a human embryo … it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself” (LS:117).
It will be a year (June 17, 2015), since the release of Pope Francis’ ecological encyclical – “Laudato Si, Mi Signore” (LS) – Praise to You, My Lord! In the words of this charming canticle, St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that our ‘common home’ is like a sister with whom we share our life, and like a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us (LS:1).
“Let us mention these richly bio-diverse lungs of our planet, which are the Amazon and the Congo basins. We know how important these are for the entire earth and for the future of humanity. But when these rain forests are burnt down or levelled for purposes of cultivation, then within a span of a few years, countless species are lost and the areas become arid wastelands. A delicate balance has to be maintained, for we cannot overlook the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them can in fact, undermine the sovereignty of individual nations …” (LS:38).
World Plant Report: The first annual state of the ‘World Plant Report’ (May 10, 2016), which involved over 80 scientists and a year to produce, is a baseline assessment on the diversity of plants and the global threats they currently face. This document was released by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.
It is estimated that there are 390,900 higher plant species of which 369,400 are flowering. However, the report warns that 21 per cent of plants are at a risk of extinction, because of deforestation from agriculture, and the use of timber for construction.
A couple of months back, a video was being circulated in the social media, especially through the popular ‘WhatsApp’, about how in Morocco, the clouds have fallen on earth. As per the explanation accompanying the video, this is the first time ever that such a thing has happened. “Wow !! Watch this video … you won’t get a proper word to describe it ….. God’s Amazing Act ! Catchy words indeed and so this video went viral; whoever got this video on their mobile went on a Forwarding spree - sending it across to whoever they had on their WhatsApp chat.
So, what was it ? Was it really the clouds ? Was it God’s Amazing Act ? The cloud-shaped substance sparked off a discussion of mystery among social media users. No logical scientific explanation was forthcoming at that point of time and so people were left guessing as to what it actually was. However, it is widely believed that it was definitely not the clouds but some sort of ‘foam’ caused by pollution and climatic changes. There you have it, this was yet another case of how the environment is getting affected due to climatic changes. This is yet another warning of more dangers yet to come and experts believe, if these signs are not heeded, we shall all be doomed !
Inhabitants from across the Pacific Islands have migrated to safer places as global warming unleashes a barrage of cyclones, floods, storm surges and droughts, a news report warns. Thousands of people have already fled island nations such as Tuvalu and Nauru which, because of their poverty and proximity to the sea, represent the “ground zero” of climate change. They are leaving as their crops, buildings and water supplies are damaged by extreme weather,
Catholic Health institutions are committed to fighting neglected diseases
At the 69th World Health Assembly, the Holy See has reiterated the commitment of Catholic Health Care institutions to continue efforts to end the epidemics and neglected diseases. Archbishop Jean-Marie Mupendawatu, head of the Holy See delegation at the assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23-28, stressed this in his speech Wednesday morning, in which he commended the Report on Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (WHA69/15), which underscores the commitment to an integrated multi-sectorial approach in which health is not only one of the several goals that are interlinked, but influences and is influenced by other goals and targets as an integral part of sustainable development.
“The implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 goals and 169 associated targets will ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally viable future for our planet and for present and future generations. The Holy See delegation welcomes the vital emphasis on the dignity of the human person and the strong focus on equity expressed in the pledge that ‘no one will be left behind’. This in terms of health is expressed in goal 3, to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, which has 13 targets that are underpinned by universal coverage as the key to the achievement of all the others.”
Muslim preachers are increasingly coming into the country from Sudan, proclaiming a more radical form of Islam
A bishop from Malawi has expressed concern about the growing trend towards radical Islamisation in the Mangochi Diocese, in the south of the country.
Speaking with international Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Stima Monfort stressed that traditional Islam in Malawi has been moderate and that Christians and Muslims have been co-existing peacefully. A national Christian-Muslim committee has regularly tackled problems. But foreign influences of extreme religious positions that are worrisome, the prelate said.
These Muslim preachers, increasingly coming into the country from Sudan, proclaiming a more radical form of Islam and these imams are not easily controlled by established Muslim leaders, who have labelled the newcomers as poorly trained. The bishop said that these preachers were “dissatisfied” with traditional Islam and wanted to bring “true Islam” to Malawi. In the last few years, this has already led to attacks on Christians and moderate Muslims.
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