Chaplain's Comments

In the recent book entitled 'Shadows and the Dark' the Australian Jesuit Fr. John Cowburn who is Professor of Philosophy at Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne explores how we can hold to a loving God in the face of evil.

The idea for the book came when Fr. John fell from his bicycle, broke his collarbone and was awaiting surgery in hospital. While there, an old religious sister came to his room to give him Holy Communion before going to the operating theatre. Fr. John told her about the accident. Sister said, 'Well Father, God must have known you needed a little holiday, so he arranged for your fall'. John replied, 'If that's true Sister I'm pleased God didn't want me to take a sabbatical!'

From Jesus' day to ours, when bad things happen to good people it seems easier to blame God or Satan. By his own admission Fr. John had an accident because he didn't take enough care on his bike. End of story. That God can bring something good out of such an accident is grace building on nature. What Jesus confronts in today's Gospel is 'The-devil-made-me-do-it' theology. And his response is as challenging now as it was in first century Palestine.

For as long as we blame our most destructive behaviour on evil acting upon us in all its guises, empty promises and powers, then we remain some way from taking the sort of responsibility for the condition of our hearts that might see them fully converted by Christ's saving love. This is not to say that evil does not exist or that it cannot have a powerful effect upon us, quite the opposite. Just as grace builds on love and goodness, evil grows out of estrangement and hatred. As Christians we hold that God has given us free will, and evil's hold on our hearts is often the result of the poor choices and smaller compromises we have made along the way.

The way we look at the evil in our lives and the world also affects our compassion. For if we're not in touch with the greed that leads to theft, the anger that leads to murder, the desire for power that leads to rape, or the alienation that leads to terrorism, then it's hard for us to be compassionate toward the perpetrators of these evil acts. The degree to which we know what our hearts are capable of leads us to be grateful for the graces we receive and cultivate, and to be compassionate toward those who have missed out on this good news and who, by nurture or free will, have chosen evil as their fundamental option.

May this Father's Day enable us to take in the broken body of Christ because we know we are a broken people in need of its power, and as Christ's blood is poured for us, may we be poured out in love, so that, through us, others might hear His call to a conversion of heart.

Here's Danny Dutton, explaining God at age 8. One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way, he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like priests and things pray all the time, not just at bedtime.

God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mum's and dad's heads and asking for something they say you couldn't have.

Jesus is God's son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind like his father and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing, to forgive them, and God said OK.

His dad (God) appreciated everything he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven - so he did.

And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important. You can pray any time you want and they're sure to hear you because they have got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.

If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you but God can. It is good to know he's around you when you're scared in the dark or when you can't swim very well and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back any time he pleases. And that's why I believe in God.

Happy Father's Day!

Fr Gaetan Pereira SJ
College Chaplain