HOPE in the Changing Times

“And endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:4).We are witnessing around the world a rise of nationalist tendencies, populism, and hatred against minorities and backward classes disregarding reason and rationality. The revolutionary processes of industrialization, urbanization, and secularization have uprooted and bewildered the historical consciousness of the people. The world is undoubtedly passing through troubled times. The socio-political scenario of present day India is also tinted by different ideologies. The organized sections of the society are using their collective power for bargaining to corner more benefits for themselves at the cost of scarce public resources. Unorganized sections are reeling under the ill effects of policies designed to help the big players. The divide between rich and poor is becoming more pronounced by each passing day. A handful of politicians are damaging the secular fabric of India by playing vote bank politics by consolidating minorities on communal lines.

However, there is growing democratic consciousness in all sections of the society.The Church leaders, policy makers, and responsible citizens of the country are looking upon the situation with deep concern.The minority communities are becoming more and more strident with regard to their self- understanding and their right to be recognized as equal players. What is the primary task of the evangelizers to address this situation and be harbingers of hope in a world that totters over the edge of hopelessness?

Josef Neuner, the great theologian from India, once said “Faith in Christ is not primarily a doctrine but a new solidarity of the human family as God’s Kingdom…” Christ is not an abstract principle but a person who accompanies us in our journey of human solidarity. Karl Rahner in his first public lecture after the Second Vatican Council said, “all that the Church does, …is all service, pure service, a simple offering of help for something entirely different, the simplest thing, and therefore, ineffably difficult and sacred. This is faith, hope and love, to be instilled in the hearts of men (and women).”

Christian mission has to re-define its role to be able to find its proper space in the world of today. “By moving out into the frontiers of life and reality to revitalize society by disseminating the values of the kingdom is the task cut out for mission today.” Raymond Williams in his book, Resources of Hope, affirms that religion bears within it resources of hope based on its spiritual vision. The call of the hour is to turn to the world with renewed hope and a greater determination to strive for peace and justice.At the heart of the story of Jesus is a “narrative of hope” beginning from mystery of Jesus’ Incarnation. Jesus is a model of what it means to be human, a fulfilment of humanities’ highest inspiration. His main concern has been to help people to live a fully human life. The followers of Jesus, become true disciples when they share this hope to the people who are victims of new ideologies and exploitative structures.The Church is called to give hope to the people, especially those on the periphery who suffer the bad effects of communalism, terrorism and extreme nationalism.“To believe is to do justice” (Jer 22:16). Faith must give hope and seek justice. The testimony of our Christian faith must be relevant and befitting to the changing life situation. We should be on the constant search to find out the best form to disclose, interpret and deepen the fundamental experiences involved in our faith, becoming sensitive to the needs and signs of the times.

The abstracts in the first section of this issue of IDMD highlight the diverse concerns and reflections of a changing world. Recent and relevant articles from various journals have been categorized and abstracts written to help the researchers and seekers of truth to become aware of the current issues facing the humanity today. In the first article, Sr. Rachel Marie Zongo shares her reflection on the meaning of religious-missionary vocation dedicated to the mission of God in the Church and in the world as a gratuitous favour that God gives us. In his contribution Fr. Lazar T. Stanislaus analyses the changing and challenging situation of Europe in the context of the mission of the Church in general and the thrust of the missionary involvement of the SVD Congregation in particular. In his research article Paul B. Steffen proposes the Regno-centric Ecclesiology for Asia through Small Christian Communities and Asian Integral Pastoral Approach.The statement of the Indian Theological Association “Toward a Theology of Christian Minority in Indian Scenario Today” highlights the true situation of the minorities in India and throws rays of hope in the Church to work towards the welfare of all by being leaven in the society.

Dr. Jose Kollemkunnel SVD

                                                                                                       (Executive Editor)