Educating for the Lived Gospel #120

“Walk as a living Gospel” (Helene de Chappotin)

 
There are many facets to this rich Franciscan saying. Our society can see words as static. Uttered in one moment, recorded, used as evidence of praise or blame – this is not the intent of Helene’s saying. Rather, she means that we should embody the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as we walk through our lives. The bar is set high but such a faith is real – this is the path of integrity. If we each walk as a living Gospel, open to God’s promptings amidst our failings, there is a good news, for each of us, from another.
 
Young people want ideals that are authentic, that live up to some scrutiny. If we provide examples of integrity amidst our failings, we are authentic to ourselves and live up to the scrutiny of (many) young people. The media, which young people can consume so voraciously, can highlight the negative in the world. What better antidote for our young people than to be able to walk and live and speak good news to each of them?
 
Have a great week!
Patrick

Educating for the Lived Gospel #105

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 18:3)

 
This quote flies in the face of our society which urges us to grow up and be responsible and productive members. How can we ‘become like children’? Children exude joy, love and acceptance. Children can be excited by seemingly small things – frequently by the wonders of nature. As Teilhard de Chardin said, ‘Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God’. You know when you are loved by a child – there is no doubt, no holding back, as they wrap their arms around you. ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). Young people do not see the divisions created by adults – divisions of race or colour – ‘the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ (1 Sam 16:7)
It is our role to slow some young people down from their headlong rush to ‘grow up’. We need to remind them of the importance of joy, love and acceptance – encouraging them to hold on to those qualities – as well as doing our best to model them.
Have a great week!
Patrick

Educating for the Lived Gospel #103

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Thus, the Gospel message of justice was continuing a theme that had been part of Judaism for centuries. As humans, we can complicate matters. We can also be paralysed because we’re not sure how to move forward. This passage states clearly and simply what is required of us as people of faith – do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. It is interesting to note that we are required to build relationships and community – through justice and kindness. What might walking humbly with God look like? Someone who is open to God’s presence around them – in people and in what Franciscans refer to as the ‘Book of Nature’. Someone who fosters their relationship with God through prayer. Someone who knows their gifts and talents – and knows they are all God’s grace.
Young people love the doing of justice – but may need our help to see it ‘close to home’. We can guide them by our words and actions towards kindness – for others and themselves. Our greatest task – and challenge – is to help them foster their faith and their relationship with God – through prayer and wonder at creation, including the wonder of their own gifted creation.
Have a great week!
Patrick

Educating for the Lived Gospel #100

On reaching this ‘ton’, I thank each of you for your support and encouragement that has made these reflections possible.

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

This is one of a number of Scripture passages that, to me, are at the heart of the Gospel message. Talk is cheap – what am I doing? How am I treating the people I encounter? Am I paying each person the respect that they are due from their God-given dignity? This fundamental respect of each person flows from our belief in the Incarnation – which is truly Lasallian, truly Franciscan, truly Christian. Another thing that strikes me is that we are all members of the one family.

Most, if not all, schools provide opportunities to ‘open the eyes’ of the young people in their care. Such opportunities include Caritas, Franciscans International, the Lasallian Foundation and other worthwhile charities where both money and awareness can be raised. There are also the many service projects such as soup vans, refugee tutoring and aged care where the young may glimpse the face of Jesus. And there are the remarkable service and immersion programs that involve travel to other countries. Whatever form it takes, young people are thirsting for justice – thirsting to live their faith through living justly – walking the talk.
Have a great week!
Patrick

Educating for the Lived Gospel #99

G’day! After much prayer and reflection, I’ve decided to strike out in a new direction with the reflections, by reflecting upon pieces of scripture – though always with a Lasallian and Franciscan ‘flavour’. I hope that you find something in them for you!

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)

Such a passage makes me wonder: What does it mean to live life abundantly? What do I need to do to live up to this passage? “Living life to the full” can be an excuse for hedonism. However, this full life is connected to Jesus who is the one speaking in this passage. Think about how Jesus lived his life…selflessly, literally poured out for others. So, I think living life to the full has more to do with making the most of my talents, my opportunities and my relationships. It is my firm belief that a full life is one that is lived for others – one that embraces the Franciscan wisdom of “it is giving that we receive”. A full life is also lived by the Lasallian wisdom of touching hearts – focussing on our relationships. I also believe that a full life entails celebrating the small things that are easily ignored – a flower, a smile, any baby.

It is easy for young people to be seduced into thinking that a full life is centred on “me”. Rather, it is our task to guide them into seeing that the full life is truly centred on “we” – develop and use my talents, so that I can build my community. When we all act in that manner, we might glimpse a Pentecost moment!

Have a great week…and term!

Patrick

 

Educating for the Lived Gospel #98a

After I wrote this week’s reflection, I had the great good fortune to see the reality of life, love and hope coming through the cross in the person of 30 year old Melbourne woman, Michelle Newland. Her story is too good and too appropriate to this week’s quote not to share it with you. For the second year in a row, I’d invited Michelle to speak to our Year 11 girls as part of their reflection day.

Michelle Newland is a living miracle – and in her own way, an angel of the Lord. This is not just true because of her recovery after dying in her mother’s arms after an asthma attack at age 19. Nor is it true because she can walk and talk now rather than be in a vegetative state that the medical experts said would be her lot. Nor is it true just because of the wonderfully inspirational talks she gives – full of humour and determination. For me, Michelle is a living miracle primarily because of her extraordinary faith. As she said, “My faith is like oxygen to my brain…I can’t live without it”. As Christians, we proclaim that salvation goes through the cross. Michelle and her family have endured a type of crucifixion – yet are now exploring an extraordinary resurrection – full of life and love and hope. Truly a miracle for all who have been blessed to see and hear it. When someone like Michelle says “Never ever give up” – you take notice.

If you want to know more about her story, go to www.michellenewland.com

Peace and all good
Patrick