Educating for the Lived Gospel #156

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart (Joel 2:12)

And so we begin another Lenten journey towards Easter. In looking up a definition for ‘human’, it could include ‘backslider’. As humans we are great at making promises. We deliver, for a while, but then we can backslide, returning to our former behaviours. If we return to God with our whole heart, we remember our God-given dignity and the dignity of all around us. If we return to God with our whole heart, we waken from our selfish slumber and and remember that we are made whole in relationships, in community.

We should remind young people in our care of the need to be better, to live lives of concern for those around us, rather than selfish lives. When I return to God with my whole heart, I am more connected with my best self, more connected with others and am closer to the full life towards which we are all called at Easter.

Have a great week!

Educating for the Lived Gospel #126

Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Is 58:6-7)
During Lent, we most frequently focus on fasting of a bodily kind. This fascinating passage asks an interesting question: what is the point of fasting? Rather than a spirituality modelled on our society, i.e. individualistic, this passage implies that fasting should draw us into community, that we might see others’ needs, have compassion and help them.
Young people can assert that religious language and rituals have little to do with ‘real’ life. Relationships are very important to young people. Religious practice that cares for those in need strikes many young people as relevant and resonates with them developmentally.
Have a great week!

Educating to the Lived Gospel #124

‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others…‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. (Matt 6:2,5)

Lent is our opportunity to ‘fess up’ to our failings and do what we can to be better people. Self-improvement? Lent has provided that chance for centuries. We know what to do – but remembering to do it? That is grace. This passage reminds us of what we know, but forget. “Grandstanding” is clearly not just a 21st century malaise! For those of us who are extrovert or needy – a ‘burst pipe’ or crave the pat on the back – such advice is all the more challenging.
Our task is to help young people to build a reflex of giving, a reflex of prayer – so that they become second nature. The moral equivalent of muscle memory. A reflex of giving reminds us how blessed we are that we live in community and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. A reflex of prayer reminds us that all we have and all we are is gift from God and that we never have to go it alone. Such is the Christian life to which we are all called.
Have a great week!