All sorts of things have happened this past May: elections in India, Indonesia and Australia; the World Cup of Cricket began in England (where else?); the Pope, amongst other activities, visited his Diocesan Assembly gathered in his Cathedral without Mitre or Crozier and later in the month he travelled to Romania; and two great men died, John Vanier and our fellow Australian Les Murray.
Many consider that Les Murray was, and remains to this date, our greatest poet. I cannot comment on that and I have not read many of his works. Shame.
John Vanier changed the attitude of our world and left behind over 150 communities providing real homes for those with profound disabilities.
Les was born, the only child, to fiercely proud dairy farmers in Nabiac, New South Wales. He lost his mother aged 13, was severely bullied at school and left the Free Kirk Presbyterians in his early twenties to embrace Catholicism. Forty years later, his father could not bring himself to mention it.
John was born, the fourth child of five, into a truly devout Catholic Family. His father lost a leg in the trenches in the First World War, served his Canadian people in all sorts of postings and became Governor General of Canada in 1959. John grew up in a household where his father went to Mass every day and spent 30 minutes in personal prayer.
Les Murray dedicated all his works “to the Glory of God”.
John Vanier reminded the world that “everybody is beautiful”.
One can ponder the tributes in days to come. Many call Vanier a saint, already! Others suggest Murray to be Australia’s greatest poet. Read his poem. ‘Poetry and Religion’. Maybe a saint in many years to come.
These words are in today’s reading from Ephesians:
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory,
give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed
To bring you to full knowledge of him.”
Both Les and John have done that. From vastly different backgrounds with different talents, in different worlds. Both have ennobled we humans.
As we approach Pentecost may we be encouraged to use our gifts and talents to do likewise, with the help of the same Holy Spirit.