Chaplain's News

This week the Australian Jesuit Provincial Steve Curtin visited our College to affirm our ministry beyond words that reveal the mystery of God in our friendship and solidarity with one another here at John XXIII College. After the Monday morning briefing, Steve was invited by Antoinette De Pinto, the Head of Primary to the Mary Ward Centre for children with special needs. There Steve met Ruby, a little girl who could neither read nor speak. The miracle for this little girl and for her family is not a medical cure but the miracle of people who place these most vulnerable of children at the heart of their concern and of their community.

The Paralympic Games offered us another glimpse of the world of the vulnerable and wounded in the centre of the world concern. It is indeed beautiful to see the resilience of these Paralympians cross the finishing line. It is a splendid thing when our words move people and when our voices literally give voice to the voiceless and then we find ourselves powerless before the power of a little girl who only understands a language beyond words.

Knowing who we are gives us dignity. Being called by name presumes intimacy and friendship. In the Hebrew Scriptures, knowing and using another's name was to have power over them. This is one of the reasons why God's name is never spoken by Israel. No one has power over God.

In Christian Scriptures, however, names are readily and generously used. We are invited to call God by name and Jesus assures and shows us that God knows each of us by name and we are all invited to use the family name. The days of distance are over.

In this weekend's Gospel, Mark puts before us the identity of the Messiah described by Peter, who names Jesus as the anointed one, for whom Israel has longed and hoped. Peter's confession of faith in and about Jesus is instructive about the God in whom we believe. Jesus does not seem worried about naming rights and religious conventions. His power does not come from the word Messiah but from his generosity of heart, his powerful teaching and his intimacy with those around him. People felt known and loved by him.

Old habits die hard, however, and Peter wants his Messiah to be powerful and strong in standing up to the authorities in Jerusalem. Jesus knows that the real love and intimacy of God is not found in acts of might and domination, but in the extraordinary love of the cross.

As an aside, it can be worthwhile to pause and revisit those qualities of children whom we serve; presumably Jesus is encouraging us to assimilate. Children are transparent a reminder to us that what is not spoken about is not addressed; shadows only grow.

There is simplicity about children; they are not devious by and large or manipulative. Another reminder for us; when love goes out of relationships they become a power struggle. Nor do children play a role. Children are gifted with a sense of wonder and gratitude. We lose our sense of wonder and gratitude. We lose our sense of wonder and gratitude when we take relationships for granted - and forget to say thank you.

Children have a sense of fun and enjoy life as we will see and experience in the lives of our Year 4's receiving their first Holy Communion this weekend. Jesus truly wants us to enjoy life. 'I have come that you may have life and have it to the full' he promised. If, over an appreciable period of time, life is a burden and there is no joy in it, it is time we took stock and maybe sorted out a few things with a good friend who knows us well and who also knows how to listen.

May we each who are called by his name are challenged to do likewise and lose ourselves in being generous of heart, authoritative in our stand on matters of justice, conscience and truth and intimate with those around us. "It is especially lovely when those of us whose coins are words find ourselves powerless before the power of a little girl who only understands a language beyond words", says Steve Curtin SJ,

Fr Gaetan Pereira SJ
College Chaplain