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President's reflection

   
  Icon of the meal at Emmaus      

“PEACE BE WITH YOU”: THE RISEN JESUS IN OUR MIDST.

Our Easter readings convey the peace Jesus gives.

In Luke 24, the risen Jesus comes amongst the disciples and says, “peace be with you”.

As in John 20: 24-29, Jesus settles their initial alarm and establishes the reality of the resurrection by showing the disciples his hands and feet.

In Luke, as they stand about rather dumbfounded, Jesus helps them out by asking “Have you anything to eat? “They offer Jesus a piece of grilled fish which Jesus then eats. (Luke 24: 41-43).

This is such a pastoral touch. It allows the disciples to move from being dumbfounded to having something to do and to share as community. This is a community being restored after trauma and grief and now becoming a community that will be Gospel - bearers as an Easter people.

The risen Jesus pastoral touch in Luke 24, is like the sensitivity in Mark 5 where, after healing the young girl and restoring her to her relieved parents, they are encouraged by Jesus to give her something to eat. (Mark5: 43).

We can imagine the preparation of her food allowing those dear parents to re-orientate after their time of trauma (which had included the noise of a lot of people behaving badly until Jesus, with quiet strength, gave the family appropriate protection).

For us, these many years later, there is a continuity of experience.

The risen Jesus is in our midst, as He promised (Matthew 18:20), and gifts us with peace.

This is true when we gather in Church and it can also be true when we are in family, with friends, in the street, at school and at work.

One of my first clergy positions was as an Industrial Chaplain in factories around Dandenong. I learned from a group of disciples working in International Harvester that I was not bringing Jesus into the factory. Jesus was already there - in the midst - as these faithful souls worked on the assembly line and met for prayer in the canteen over lunch.

They taught me a valuable lesson. Some years later it was reinforced when I was Chaplain to Monash University and took responsibility for helping to organise the Fifth Assembly of the Interreligious World Conference on Religions for Peace (now Religions for Peace).

Wildly under-resourced for the task of hosting hundreds of people from overseas, many with little money, the Conference only succeeded because of folk from the Focolare community. They gave hours and hours of sacrificial support and in a spirit of the love that is unifying.

Through them I was introduced to their beloved leader Chiara Lubich whose inspiration after the trauma and grief of World War 2 was “Jesus in our midst”. God built a movement for renewal based the faithfulness of Chiara and her initial small circle of companions, living the presence of Jesus and loving their neighbours.

As it happens, last weekend, I was invited to speak at Focolare’s first Mariapolis for some time, given the pandemic. There again I saw the beauty of the mystical body of Christ (I Cor.12: 12-27) when love circulates in our unifying communion.

In this Easter season we not only remember the way Jesus convinced those first disciples of his resurrection (and with such pastoral sensitivity), but we experience that same peace as we gather together. As in John 20:31, we “have life in his name.”

The Risen Jesus in our midst continues to sustain and guide us.

Thus, we say, with St Athanasius and with faithful souls of every generation, “we are an Easter people and ‘alleluia’ is our song!”

We may thus pray, as they do at Taize:

“If you were not risen.

Lord Jesus, to whom would we go

to discover a radiance of the face of God.

If you were not risen,

we could not be together

to seek your communion.

We would not find in your presence forgiveness,

wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,

where would we draw the energy?

for following you

right to the end of our existence,

for choosing you again and anew?” AMEN.

 

Bishop Philip Huggins

NCCA President. 



A REQUEST OF OUR PM: SET A TARGET AT NEXT WEEK’S SUMMIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

We urge our Prime Minister to announce our target date for net zero emissions at next week’s Summit on Climate Change, convened by the US President, Joe Biden.

It appears President Biden plans to announce US plans for major cuts by 2035, net zero certainly by the date in the Paris Agreement of 2050.

What a blessing it would be for our PM to match this and also announce a generous Nationally Determined Contribution by Australia to the upcoming UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, this coming November!

It’s all attuned to the “golden rule”.

Our loving  of our neighbours includes the coral on the reef, the koalas and our other endangered species.

Our loving of neighbours includes friends in the Pacific impacted already by climate change.

As they are forced  to leave traditional lands and homes; as more frequent and extreme events pummel their way of life, how can they possibly comprehend a rich near neighbour continuing to obfuscate on such an obvious matter!?

We urge our Prime Minister to make substantial announcements on a net zero emissions target and on preventing further climate change.

Next week’s Summit is a wonderful opportunity. 

We are at a point where no opportunity can be wasted!

BISHOP PHILIP HUGGINS 

16 April 2021

 

 

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