What Happened to James?
Asks a concerned reader
This is one of the letters the CCV editor received from a very concerned reader and friend whom he has never met.
My dear James, I hope nothing is wrong with you or your colleagues. After the 3rd of August I have not seen any new item on CCV. This is worrying me because most of our Catholic periodicals, schemes, organizations and serious activities fall off abruptly.
My deep respect, admiration and love for you, forces me to write this short mail to you. I remember you in my prayers, and I offer my best wishes also for your colleagues. Denis Daniel.
Following is my reply to Denis and similar friends of CCV:
Dear Denis, I am simply humbled and flattered by your kind words. I feel that you have telepathic powers to connect with me and there may be others in the same plight as you are. So this short note for their benefit.
From August 2nd I had to be out of station suddenly, since I had to join a pilgrimage to Velankanni, Chennai tomb of St.Thomas and a tour of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur arranged by my daughter’s family just come home from US for a short vacation after a very long time. I never took my family for any picnics or pilgrimages. They had not seen any of these places either. So they must have been teaching me something precious by example and so I had to join them when they invited their daddy and mammy to go with them.
The tour of three cities in the north was very educative. Since there was a guide in each city to explain things, my admiration for the Muslim community and Mugal rule rose by leaps and bounds. All the worthwhile sights and sounds and monuments in the North were built by them. Akbar the great showed his greatness and open secular universal outlook and united people of different religions by marrying three ladies, one a Muslim, another a Hindu and third a Christian from Goa. It made me wonder why these communities are less secular and civilized and fighting against one another even today in the 21st century.
Another fact that struck me terribly and indelibly was the staggering contrast I could see between the posh and pompous life styles of a few and the miserable plight of thousands who stroll the streets in rags and the many using cycle Riksaws, horse or bullock-drawn carriages to transport people. Those sights brought to my mind the words of Jesus: “l have pity on the multitude,” and raised the subsequent question: “Are our posh, magnificent churches capable of delivering that “pity” Jesus speaks of and delivered without building even a single church of brick and mortar?
This thought is very closely connected with the attacks on Dalits taking place in many states in the North, even in the Catholic church. But the bishops refuse to admit it publicly or discuss it publicly. When Modi keeps silent on major burning issues, we criticize him. We have to do the same when bishops keep silent also, since their silence turns out to be a self-inflicted eloquent reproach.
It is in this context that the thundering of Modiji: “You can shoot me rather than target the Dalits,” becomes doubly significant. Compare that statement with that of Jesus in Gethsemini to the Soldiers who came to arrest him: “I am Jesus of Nazareth. Take me and let these friends of mine to go free.”
Will these powerful statements empower our Bishops not only to speak up but also initiate action programmes for uplifting the dalits in their churches? That is for the bishops to answer. They have not done it till today in spite of various requests and provocations from CCV. They may never do it.
But as Denis suspected through telepathy something went wrong with me as well in my journey from Chennai to Velankanni to Kochi. Twice or so, they told me, I fainted and fell down, had loose motion problem etc. So my daughter Santhi, an expert nurse was prompt to get a doctor in two stations to check me, treat me and revive me. But I, for comfort, knew nothing of these things since I was like plane gone off radar and roaming blissfully thinking, I am like a product whose shell life should have ended long ago. But God decided to extent that shell life a bit longer, it seems. Doesn’t matter for how long! So smile and send in your suggestions to make the churches you belong, totally free from the cancer of caste to make equality, brotherhood and family spirit flourish.