Wednesday, 7 January 2015


The party’s over!  The decorations have come down! Most tellingly  the crib figures have been removed from the church, put into storage. Are Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and even baby Jesus. Now being out of sight were they to be henceforth banished from our minds?  We must not allow this to happen!
In the course of this  Liturgical Year from Advent to Advent the Church will celebrate  the history, the mystery, of our salvation as accomplished through the life, death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus.  As our focus shifts   according to liturgical feasts and seasons we carry everything we believe about Jesus ….everything we expect of Jesus, everything He expects of us. And how do we carry this package? Not as a burdensome load on our backs, but as a treasure clutched to our hearts.
At Christmas we gave pride of place to the birth of the child Jesus. Then, on New Year’s Day the Church kept the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. Honour the new-born, Jesus,  then honour  His mother -  Mary!  She is very much worthy of our love and devotion.  What an intimate relationship she had with God! She gave Him  all the baby-care He needed …her Mary’s Son being the Son of God. She who had presented her child to the world at His birth presented Him to the world with generous, courageous love at that moment when Jesus gasped His last breath on the Cross.   Our wonder at the beauty of the Bethlehem Manger should not to be separated from our horrified awe at what took place at the Calvary!  
For  almost  half a century  Popes have seen the need to commence  each  year  with  a WORLD DAY OF PEACE – with each year having its own theme -  throwing its own  emphasis  on the   purpose of the Son of God becoming man, one of us. Surely it was  to  redeem, to bring peace, to  the family of mankind  that had lost its way and was relentlessly pursuing  a path of self-destruction. 
Pope Francis, In choosing  for his theme,  ‘SLAVES NO MORE, BUT BROTHERS AND SISTERS’ intended to startle us. He knew  that many people think that slavery is a thing of the past. ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘this social plague remains all too real in today’s world.’  In a very general sense the Pope sees as enslavement the treatment of anyone as an object of contempt, a thing to be possessed, used and abused according to the convenience and inclination of another.  Wherever there is  inflicted misery that makes life a wretched  experience there is a form of enslavement. 
Central to the Pope’s thinking is the fact that every single one of us originates from God; each of  us is stamped  with the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God. At a very basic level each of us is a person of dignity deserving to be  to be respected.  Indeed, the Pope sees every form of violence as a kind of replay  of the outrageous way Cain treated his brother Abel. Yet more profoundly he sees it as a replay of the violence inflicted on the one who became the Brother of all Mankind – Brother Jesus, Son of God,  Son of Man.
The Pope expects us to be soul-searching about the way we relate to others. He expects us to be pro-active in alerting   our society to whatever inhumanity is being perpetrated or tolerated. This Message  of  Peace, this rejection of every form of  Enslavement  must be lived and  promoted by all of  us throughout this year, and every year.  The impetus and inspiration that were drawn from our celebration   on the first day of this year must not be shelved out of the way - as have been the decorations and crib figures.
It is a matter of urgency  that throughout the year  all  of us live with the necessary coupling of  the hands-on spirituality of  the World Day of Peace and the radical transforming  spirituality  derived  Mary being  the Mother of God whose Son is the Saviour  of this                                                         GOD- LOVED… NEVER-GOD-FORESAKEN WORLD!

Peter Clarke, OP 

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