We are in the last days of the Liturgical Year. Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. We try this week to establish a statement that we can offer our leader as we say thanks for the past year of grace.
On the way, we might consider…are we at the end or are we about to engage, thankfully, in a new beginning? Ends and beginnings, are they not a constant reality? Consider: the Brigidine Sisters said “good bye” to the Beechworth community this past weekend and in doing so closed the book on 132 years of commitment to that community. The locals awaited the inevitable, hoping it was not the end. The Sisters offered the vision that it was time for a new beginning. Four young women from Ireland arrived just after Ned Kelly was jailed in Beechworth, and they came to a town that earlier had hopes of being a capital and had begun to build their Church accordingly. But the gold ran out. It proved not to be the end.
At a conference today of the Inter-faith Networks of Victoria, I learnt that Australia has 20% of the world’s poker machines. We are possibly 0.2% of the world’s population. The faith communities are at the beginning of trying to change that situation. One council area in Melbourne lost 132 million dollars last year in payments to government and the owners of the machines! The industry promotes the slogan ‘Gamble responsibly!’
The parable of the fig tree calls us to recognise the signs of the times. Will someone seize the opportunity in Beechworth? Will the Inter-faith networks give a lead in Victoria? Will we all take seriously the opportunity presented by the appeal, to let our voice be heard in the opportunity presented by the forthcoming Plenary Council consultation? What will you and I present with the bread, wine and collection to our leader next Sunday? Let it not be a fatalistic end, but rather a faith-filled new beginning.