Christmas 2013

“You must be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven”

This is never more true at Christmas. Children ‘get’ Christmas in ways from which some of us could learn. They are open to the joy, open to the wonder, open to all around them. Such openness brings closer God’s reign. They are a reflection of God-with-us. Surely that is what Christmas is about!

Educating for the Lived Gospel #110

Then they told Peter what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:35)

Clearly, one meaning of this passage is that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. But a fuller meaning also focusses on the everyday nature of breaking bread together in the first century. This is where the word ‘companion’ comes from – someone with whom I share bread’. So they recognised that Jesus is with them when they gather to share food and fellowship. Pope Francis speaks beautifully of a ‘journey faith’ in a recent interview  We need to have the eyes of faith to see Jesus in the reality of our lives. We may also recognise him in hindsight.
Sharing our faith of recognising Jesus in the Eucharist AND community can be a powerful learning for the young people in our care. May we help them to develop the eyes of faith to recognise Jesus in their companions on the journey.
Have a great week!

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!

Educating for the Lived Gospel #101

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)

Yet how frequently do we judge, often harshly, based upon how someone looks. In that way, we are like infants, fascinated by wrapping paper, noises and bright lights. I have been stunned and humbled by a comment from someone of whom I wouldn’t have thought it possible – maybe you have too? Yet, in our good moments, we’re able to encourage the young person who may be down or acting out – looking past the externals. There are also the young people who seem to be happy, healthy and thriving, but their reality can be more painful, as this video shows.
We owe it to our young people to teach them to look past the externals to glimpse a fuller reality of the people in their lives. One powerful way that we do this is by modelling – by not treating all of the young people in our care the same. Because of their differences, to treat all young people the same would be manifestly unfair. This beautifully explored by De La Salle in this reflection 
Have a great week!

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!



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

Peace and all good

Educating for the Lived Gospel #97

May all the graces God gives us, no matter how remarkable they may be, incline us also to humble ourselves. John Baptist De La Salle

“My students consistently do well on tests”; “I had a student get a perfect subject score last year”; “My daughter was accepted into the Medicine course”; “My wife and I are travelling overseas next month”. These are all good things in themselves. The point is that each of these situations is a grace, a gift from God. Think of the Olympic gold medallist (in whatever discipline or sport) – they work, they train many long gruelling hours and richly deserve their accolades. How many competitors are there? How many suffer from illness, injury or some relational upset that prevents them from doing their best? Sport is littered with such stories. That is why the humble champion, like Roger Federer, rings true for many people.

Our message for young people? Discover your gifts. Be your best, but don’t get carried away on ego-fuelled flights of fancy. The expression ‘pride comes before a fall’ doesn’t strike us as true for no reason!

Have a great week!