From the Chaplain

All religions try to make some sense of what has been going on in history, and try to understand history as being laden with meaning. Christianity does this: Catholicism does this: we at John XXIII College try to do it in a small way, in our campus, in our class room and in our outdoor experience. Most of us live around the rim of this country but plenty of us when we want to become really thoughtful, will at one time or another head out to the outback and perhaps to the desert. Today our year 12's are heading off to their annual retreat, named Manresa after the pilgrim Ignatius who spent time reflecting on the desert of thoughtfulness and yearning for meaning and direction, love and happiness. So too we saw our students confident with enough energy and intelligence to challenge themselves further on their final year of their school journey, intellectually, socially, and as far as one can judge, spiritually. This is their opportunity for personal growth in a disciplined understanding of the world and their lives.

In this Sunday's gospel we hear Jesus filled with pity when he encountered the leper. People who had any type of skin disease in the ancient world were called lepers. They were treated shamefully. They had to live outside the villages and towns and call out 'unclean' ' unclean' when they came near others and could never attend the Temple and were considered cursed by God . Jesus confronts the social system of his day that has robbed this man of his human dignity and religious law that has robbed him of hope.

We are challenged this Sunday to trust a holy anger like Jesus in this encounter, an anger that tells us that something is wrong. It is a valuable emotion, some sit on it and stew, others gain from their anger energy to right the wrong as Jesus did, and he touched the leper, healed him and ordered him to fulfil his religious obligations so that he could attend the temple again. We are invited not just to fight for our own rights when we have been wronged, but we are invited to fight for the dignity and rights of others. It can take many forms, taking the lot of those yet to be born or who are near natural death, fighting for future generations by calling for a just care of the earth. And it can be about standing up for those people in our home, parish, school, workplace, neighbourhood, country, and world who are treated shamefully, excluded, derided or declared unclean.

Why should we bother? Because this Sunday Christ comes to us, again and declares what we might think about ourselves, or what we have been told, there is nothing in us that cannot be healed or is beyond hope. As we give thanks for our children, families and friends this weekend, as they slowly but surely deal with their vitality and growth, may our days, months here at John XXIII College give us the love and compassion of Christ to fight for others' dignity because of the dignity we have received from him, so that we in turn become agents of change for a more just church and world.