Vol. 167 No. 49 - December 03 - December 09, 2016
The feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Pope Francis says, draws our gaze to the spotless Mother of Jesus, our Mother! With great joy the Church contemplates her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), and salutes: “Hail full of grace!” This is how God saw her from the first moment of his loving design. He saw her as Immaculate- without the stain of Sin - full of Grace. Our Mother Mary sustains our journey towards the birth of Christ at Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent Season in expectation of the Lord.
The Gospel of St Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of Israel as well. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one He had chosen to be the mother of His Son. In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being.
But this fracture was healed, in advance, in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God’s design; she is the fruit of God’s love that saves the world. Mary is kept from original and actual sin through the merit of the Cross her Son will bear, since the benefits of the Cross go out through history across the span of time, so that the Son she bears may, indeed, bear the sins of all, including preserving her from the stain of sin.
And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: throughout her life her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is the “yes” to God. But that did not make life easy for her! When the Angel calls her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), she is 'greatly troubled', for in her humility she feels she is nothing before God. The announcement that she was to be the mother of God troubles her even more, because she was not yet married to Joseph; but. Mary listens, interiorly obeys and responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v.38).
In declaring Mary's original sinlessness, the dogma celebrates God's victory over sin, through the gracious mercy of God, the grip of evil is broken. While not removing her from the sufferings of this world, grace was freely given to her from the first moment of her existence because she was destined to be the mother of Jesus. This grace enabled her to live in constant union with God from the beginning. Her response in faith to God brought Christ into the world, and through Christ sin loses its power over the world.
On this Solemnity, then, by contemplating our Immaculate Mother, let us also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the grace of God to what we ought to be. In Mary we already see what it means to be redeemed. The symbol of original sin points to an unfaithful world. The symbol of the Immaculate Conception shows that even the accumulated sinfulness of the world cannot overcome God’s desire to save.
It is therefore an eschatological symbol, a strong foundation for christian hope, and a powerful impetus to a christian commitment to justice and liberation in a world of global sin and exploitation. The symbol of the immaculate conception reminds us that all of life is ultimately good and meaningful, so that we to may learn from mary how to be more humble, more courageous in following the word of god and to welcome the tender embrace of her son jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope and peace.
As the Year of Mercy ended, Pope Francis signed an apostolic letter, imploring us to continue being merciful called Misericordia etMisera. This letter continues the key themes of Pope Francis. The title refers to the mercy with misery Jesus grants the woman caught in adultery.
Pope Francis gets to his thesis fast: "Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church; it constitutes her very existence, through which the profound truths of the Gospel are made manifest and tangible. Everything is revealed in mercy; everything is resolved in the merciful love of the Father." (1 - numbers in brackets refer to paragraphs in the document).
"Forgiveness is the most visible sign of the Father's love, which Jesus sought to reveal by His entire life. Every page of the Gospel is marked by this imperative of a love that loves to the point of forgiveness." (2)
From this, Pope Francis draws the fact that "None of us has the right to make forgiveness conditional." For this to be understood well, two distinctions are helpful: first, God puts some limits on forgiveness which we must respect, as absolution is not given if someone firmly intends to commit the sin they are confessing; second, forgiving does not imply giving free reign, as an abused woman might forgive her ex-husband, yet file a restraining order against him.
"Mercy gives rise to joy, because our hearts are opened to the hope of a new life." To a technological and sad culture, the Pope offers an antidote: "All who put aside sadness and put on joy will live in God." (3)
Pope Francis suggests "pastoral conversion" which is "shaped daily by the renewing force of mercy" (5) as part of the new evangelisation. The footnote explains that "pastoral conversion" is a conversion of the Church's ministry to more openness and outreach.
Pope Francis says, "We are called to celebrate mercy," and follows with four ways to do this.
First, "From the beginning to the end of the Eucharistic celebration, mercy constantly appears in the dialogue between the assembly at prayer and the heart of the Father." (5)
Second, "Hearing the Word of God" celebrates mercy because, "In the biblical readings, we retrace the history of our salvation through the proclamation of God's tireless work of mercy." (6)
Every spiritual journey, it would seem
begins with a theophany-
an experience that transcends self.
It takes many forms and is sometimes outwardly spectacular.
Yet it is always rooted in the silence in which it is born.
The theophany that Moses experienced was preceded
by his solitary encounter with the LORD in the burning Bush.
Centuries later, Elijah, fleeing for his life understands
that what we identify as a "God experience"
needs to be tested in the silence of the desert.
It is no wonder then, that Israel must go there
tointeriorise it and above all experience
that the LORD is faithful, even if we are not.
The desert offers an opportunity for discernment.
It is above all a "learning" experience.
One learns not to be taken in by its mirages.
The extreme climatic conditions that present themselves
have the potential to bring out not only the best in us,
but also to bring us face to face
with the "demons" that afflict us from within.
Discernment is the antithesis of judgement.
Isaiah, speaking of the one who is to come
portrays him as one who doesn't judge by appearances.
Curiously, he goes on to add that when that happens
there will be a balance between seemingly irreconcilable opposites.
"The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid;
the lion eats straw like the ox…
and the infant plays harmlessly over the cobra's hole."1
The journey into the desert
is anything but a journey into self-righteousness.
John the Baptist, as Jesus describes him
is not a reed shaken in the wind,
but a reed nevertheless.
Reeds are characterised by their hollowness and fragility;
their ability to be swayed is determined
by their rootedness in the earth or lack of it.
John is firmly rooted in the awareness of his fragility.
His experiences notwithstanding, he still remains hollow,
unworthy to untie the strap of the sandal
of the One who personifies the fullness of the Divinity.
He has no pretensions to being a son of Abraham.
It will not bring him the inner harmony and integration
that Isaiah describes.
The 8th Annual General Body Meet cum Capacity Building was held at the Renewal Centre in Kochi, Kerala from November 7-9, 2016.
This important event began with a prayer dance presented by the students of Joakim High School, Kochi. The dance led all the 75 participants into prayer, imploring God's choicest blessings. This was followed by the lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries - Mar Jose Puthenvettil, Auxiliary Bishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, Dr Mrs Lisy Jose, Member of Kerala Women's Commission, Rev Fr Thomas Therappadan, the Director of Renewal Centre, Sr Arpitha CMC, Sr Sahaya FMM, the President of AMRAT and Rev Sr Jyoti Pinto BS, the foundress of AMRAT. His Excellency, Mar Jose, in his inaugural speech, expressed his appreciation for the wonderful work carried out by AMRAT on the issues of human trafficking. His message was very enriching and informative; he suggested introducing AMRAT to the CBCI and CRI of different dioceses and to organise a day of prayer for Anti-Human trafficking. The director of Renewal Centre, Rev Father Thomas Therappadan, expressed his joy of having the AMRAT Members at the Centre and encouraged the participants in their noble mission saying, "Your strength and weapon is Jesus."Dr Mrs Lizzy Jose spoke on the strategies to be followed to fight against the crimes committed on women and children. She also highlighted the importance of creating legal awareness and assured her wholehearted support to AMRAT.
At the beginning of the year 2002, I was asked by the French branch of the Christian Life Community movement to write a pamphlet that could recapture the spiritual meaning of the life of Saint Francis Xavier for the progress for contemporary Catholics.
I do not wish to discuss here the questions and difficulties encountered in trying to articulate a consistent, "alternative" vision of Xavier. I simply would like to summarise the portrait of the Saint that I finally sketched. I divided my work into fourteen "stations", retracing the challenges met by Xavier from the time of his departure from Lisbon till his death at Sancian. This was of course an explicit reference to the Stations of the Cross, and this is consistent with a basic theme of Christian iconographic: the Saint is a woman or a man whose progress "conforms" to Christ Himself. The saint becomes an alter Christus, another Christ. S/he recaptures specific aspects of Christ's life, mission and relation to the Heavenly Father throughout the events that determine her/his spiritual journey.
In the line of Léon-Dufour, I did not insist upon the physical or external challenges met by Xavier throughout the course of his travels, but rather on the challenges to his faith and world vision that these travels were bringing about. I tried to identify these challenges through a reading of his letters, attentive to the changes and contradictions that were occurring from one page to another. Xavier, it seemed to me, was not a man for articulating theological or spiritual shifts in an intellectual, systematic fashion, but rather for living these same shifts in the due course of meeting with the Other, and for expressing the inner changes that he underwent in the way he was narrating an ever evolving story. However, my stress was not on Xavier's spiritual journey per se, but rather on the challenges to his world vision.
No sooner, the announcement was made on 8th Nov at 8 pm that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 would not be legal tender any more, there was a panic reaction such that people started running to ATMs and also to jewellery stores to convert, exchange etc. Currently we are still grappling to come to terms, similar to US citizens who are unable to accept Trump’s victory.
The announcement was made with the intention of controlling black money, fake currency circulation and terror financing.
India has the highest levels of currencies in circulation ie at 13% of GDP with the value of 500/1000 notes in circulation being almost 86%. The emerging markets level of currency circulation is around 4%.
We did carry out the demonetisation exercise in the year 1946 and in 1978. In the year 1978, the value of demonetisation was only 0.1% of GDP compared to the 11% of GDP for the 2016 demonetisation (covers 86% of the total currency in circulation)
How did it impact then. Well, since the value was low, it did not impact the GDP growth. The deposits grew (which is obvious) but interestingly the credit off take picked up only after 4 months.
Given the demonetisation exercise covers 11% of GDP, I expect that there would be a slowdown in GDP growth. The inflation would be lower given the low demand resulting in prices coming down. The tax collections would depend upon the unaccounted amounts being deposited resulting in taxes and penalty charged on them. However, indirect tax collections may see a dip given the low demand / consumer spending.
On the liquidity side, owing to the large amounts being deposited in the banking system, the banks have already started reducing the deposit rates which in effect would result in reduction of the lending rates.
We are already seeing Indian bond market rallying sharply. The commerical paper (CP) rates have come down and banks have started to cut the MCLR rates.
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