There are pivotal moments in all our lives, and so to for Jesus. Today’s Gospel offers one.
Mission, let alone Vision statements bombard us even in most unlikely places: perhaps try to remember one unlikely statement and the unlikely place where you spotted it. Do you remember the sign that said “Illiterate?” and written underneath was “Write for free help” or the sign proclaiming “Always open” and then splashed across was the word “Closed.”
Today’s Gospel extract is in the context of the Last Supper. Judas has left, the morsel of bread has been offered, then comes the Mission Statement: “I give you a new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you.”
One can argue that the really great moments in our long history of Church are those when an individual or a group decided to accept those words and to live by the consequences, for there will be consequences!
Pope Francis in picking up those three Syrian Moslem refugee families from Lesbos, raised the bar for Leaders and put another tent peg in the global ground, far different from ordering another fleet of submarines!
Are we as Church, am I as a disciple, being called to not only look at this proclamation with new eyes but to find better ways of living the appeal of Jesus? Sure, we may be scared or frightened or even feel unworthy to attempt to live in such a manner. Remember the circumstances of the statement…washing of feet, breaking of bread, betrayal by Judas, boasting by Peter, let alone what followed in the next twenty hours!
This night the New Commandment and the example coalesce.
Let us have another go!
“And no one will ever steal them from me.”
It has been a week of ‘stealing’, locally nationally and internationally, highlighted by the continual anguish of the 250 girls in Nigeria, the saga in Lebanon and the tragedy in outer Melbourne.
Belonging is something fundamental to the desires of the human being, yet mysterious in its delivery and acceptance.
Just who are we to belong to our footy club, our book club, our family, our spouse, our Church community or our God? These are not new questions. Obviously they were on the agenda in Jesus’ time. The whole search and desire for the Messiah seems to have a foundation in their desire to be, let alone belong to, God’ people…yet when the chips were down they could not believe or accept the invitation: “I give them eternal life.”
What more could we want? But we, too, find the invitation challenging.
The Oceania Team has been grappling with these questions this weekend, and is not finished with the task at time of writing. But the great successes of the Teams, in no small way, is the creation of a positive community based upon the fullness of a regular Teams meal.
In a way, Teams become the Good Shepherd incarnate in our meetings. If that be so, then let us take comfort in the other Gospel words spoken this day: “The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.”
Well he’s done it again…he’s captured the headlines and perhaps given hope to some, no doubt disappointed others, and will undoubtedly be accused of selling out yet again by the ancient regime. The new Apostolic Exhortation. ‘Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love): On love in the Family’ has hit the airways and all pages, I am told, can be downloaded from that great instrument, the internet or the Australian Bishop’s web site which also contains a summary of the Exhortation. I have not read it but the commentators are at it and one suggests that three verbs should really be noted: accompany, discern and integrate! Could be a new topic for Teams!
What a document to release in time for the Gospel to be read this weekend!
I had been thinking about a phrase in the second reading: “The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom strength, honour, glory and blessing.” Seven gifts almost nominating seven Sacraments years before we finally discovered these paths to life with Christ. The author, I think, had an enormous understanding of the gift of Jesus and what he had done for the world and was looking for words to convey his excitement that “hope had come into the world.” Which leads easily to the first paragraph. That our lives rest ultimately on JOY, because of what He has done: “they left the presence of the Sanhedrin GLAD to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the NAME.”
Can we bring greater joy to our lives and, despite the current sufferings, show the world the wonders that members of our church are doing “for the sake of the name?”
“You may have life through his name.”
Many of you are aware of the fracas surrounding the Mosque being proposed for Bendigo. Confronting that, raises questions for all. It has caused me to chat with people that I would not normally meet, to read what was not on my radar, to attempt to find a way to support the newcomers and their differences and to alert basic goodness in those condemned for what crazed fanatics are doing in their global name, without their local approbation.
A column by Henry Ergas in the ‘Australian’ on Monday was drawn to my attention. It was obviously written before the cowardly attack upon the Christian and others in Lahore on Easter Sunday. Ergas compiles a list of attacks and associated words such as “what I must tell you is that our youth cherishes death as much as yours values life.”
We are a people of the Resurrection and as such are to bring life in all its fullness to our world. Hence, we don’t simply say our prayers. We build schools, organise health clinics, run hospitals. . . . in a sense do what Peter did in today’s reading. Very early, Jesus’ proclamation “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full,” stirred those hearers to make a break from the restrictive shackles of the old order and to accept that Jesus “was the living one.“ “I was dead but now I am to live for ever and ever.”
The image of the Disciples huddled together “in the room where the Disciples were for fear of the Jews” can never be the truth we convey to the world. Our Faith is a life-giving faith and today is called to confront the cult of death in so many ways.
We proclaim “my Lord and my God” and get on with the mission to bring LIFE to the World.