Tuesday, 1 March 2016



I would never describe someone as 'ignorant!'  If someone called me that I would be furious.To me it sounds arrogant and condescending. But St. Peter makes sure we don’t fall into that trap by urging us,
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3. 15).

Gentleness and respect -that must always be our approach. After all, we all start off ignorant and have to learn before we can teach. Never can we drain the inexhaustible fountain of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

That applies especially to the mysteries of faith. All of us must remain life-long learners.  Each and every one of us, and the Church as a whole, must constantly be learning, constantly teaching. Hence the motto of the Order of Preachers; “To contemplate, and to hand on to others the fruits of contemplation.” Otherwise we become spiritually and intellectually fossilised; in other words, dead!

Through our baptism each of us has been consecrated to share in Christ’s Prophetic Mission of handing on the Faith we have received. To keep us humble we need to remember that our faith is a gift from God –not something we can acquire by our unaided reasoning. It’s not something we deserve. To instruct, to teach, is to share God’s gift, to share His generosity. That’s both a privilege and responsibility. Hopefully we will do so with love for God’s saving truth, love for the people Jesus came to save. Hopefully, our sharing will always be inspired by a sense of wonder for God and the things of God as St Paul reminds us, “Oh, The Depth Of The Riches Both Of The Wisdom And Knowledge Of God! How unsearchable Are His judgements And unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counsellor? or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” (Rom. 11. 33-36).

To share the Good News of salvation is both a wonderful privilege and also a daunting responsibility. Daunting only because we’re not only imparting information, but also advocating a way of life –Christ’s way of life. And that’s what’s intimidating. If we’re honest with ourselves we all must admit that we fall short in practising what we preach. That sense of inadequacy, if not hypocrisy, can be paralysing.

My way of coping is to remind myself that I’m not preaching my way of life, but Christ’s. And if we all waited till we were perfect, the Gospel would never be heard. But Jesus has chosen imperfect messengers, like you and me, and makes up for our deficiencies, by sending us the Spirit of Truth to help us.

He works within both the sharer and receiver of the Good News, giving us the sensitivity, an instinct, to discern what is true or false, right or wrong, to have a correct appreciation of the goodness of this world, and the awesome majesty of God. In other words, through the Holy Spirit we gain the mind of Christ. We learn to,
“taste and see that the Lord is good,” (Ps. 34. 8).
This sensitivity grows from our closeness to God, rather than our academic prowess.

And how is handing on our faith to the so-called ‘ignorant’ a Spiritual Work of Mercy? Well, St. Mark’s Gospel gives us the answer, “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things,” (Mk. 66. 34). We have been called to follow the compassionate Christ in instructing the multitude. Deep within each one of us there’s a hunger for more than a materialistic world can offer. The Scriptures tell us we long for the fulfilment which only the Good News of salvation can give us, “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God," (Matt. 4. 4). According to the prophet Amos the worst thing that could happen to us would be, “not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord,” (Amos 8. 11). That would mean that communication between God and man, and therefore our relationship with Him, had broken down.

It’s our responsibility to ensure that that does not happen –to provide this spiritual nourishment. While realising that we are to be shepherds, guiding people to the Kingdom of Heaven, we must always remember that we, too, are ignorant sheep, who need to follow the Good Shepherd. As the Father said on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” He is the only way to the Father!



Heavenly Father, we thank you for calling us to find eternal happiness in your knowing and loving us, our knowing and loving you. We thank you for all the people who have revealed your glorious plan for us. Above all, we thank you for sending your beloved Son to express in human terms the wonder of your being and the depths of your love for us. May we always love your saving truth and be faithful to it.

This you have entrusted to each one of us, not as a private gift, but for us to share with others. Realising this is an enormous privilege and responsibility, we turn to you for help. Inspire us with a deep love and enthusiasm for your saving truth. Give us the eloquence to share you with others, not simply as providing information about you, but as proclaiming your Son’s way of life as the true path to eternal happiness with you. May our lives be a greater witness to you than our words.

Last, but certainly not least, we pray for those to whom you send us to share the Good News. May the Spirit of Truth touch their minds and hearts, so that they may welcome and follow your Word. May your Spirit guide all, who have been called to hand on your Word. We ask this through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us
 and the whole world.

Isidore Clarke O.P.

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