Chaplain's Comments

For most of us, the devotion to St Jude as "the hope of the hopeless" is not taken all that seriously. We don't attend to the instructions of those dreadful chain letters that parade as prayer guides, because they reduce God to being an unpredictable tyrant: "I will do what you want only if you jump through these hoops". For the record, we do not have to write about a prayer nine times and leave it in nine churches for God to listen to us, or for him to take our prayers seriously. Still, St Jude's patronage does exercise a power in the modern imagination because there are many more people living desperate lives in our community than we could credit.

This Sunday's passage of Mark's Gospel is among the most moving in the New Testament. There are four key actors in the narrative: Jesus, Jairus, his dying daughter, and the woman with haemorrhage. Three of the four of them are desperate. Jairus is in danger of losing his beloved child. The daughter is about to die. And the woman in the crowd, chances are, was a gynaecological mess. Some of us can relate these desperate situations; others of us have ones of our own. For some others, this Gospel story will be very painful. Where was Jesus when our son or daughter died? There is no easy answer.

At every stage, Mark displays the unbounded compassion and power of Jesus. He drives out unclean spirits, heals the sick, commands nature, and now restores life to one woman who has been socially dead for twelve years and a girl who was physically dead at twelve years, of age. Jesus' power however is not meant to be a spiritual 'shock and awe' campaign. He simply tells the woman who was healed to go in peace, and he strictly orders Jairus's household not to tell a soul. If we have faith in Jesus, it is because of his saving love, not because he a wonder worker. Trust me; it's Jesus, not Jude, who is the hope of the hopeless.

As we enter into the next school break here are some of the simplest pleasures, referred to by Brian Draper 'Less is more'. A hot bath - live music - knitting - a log fire - walking the dog - chasing butterflies - listening to owls at night - running in the rain - rambling - litter picking - foraging mushrooms - painting landscape - working with wood - gazing through window - bread and cheese - morning sunshine - baking with children - reading - finding solitude, we could add our own.

Keep a gratitude diary. The idea is to record 5 simple things everyday one is grateful for, written simply without embellishments like admiring the new kitchen - the toaster - the new kettle - the clean pure air - the silence of the place. Gratitude itself is what is transformative, it takes up so much room that everything corrosive and depressing is squeezed to the margins. It seems to push out resentment, fear, envy, self-pity leaving room for serenity, contentment and optimism to take up residence.

In the ordinary day, we tend to seek fulfilment in the outstanding or exciting or remarkable moments of life. However life itself is the outstanding, exciting and remarkable thing. And when we realize that, every day becomes a gift to be relished.

In 2010, the British media reported the story of Kate Greene, who died of cancer, having first been diagnosed in 2008.

One night she woke around 4 am, fearing that she wouldn't make it through until daytime. So she asked her husband urgently to fetch her pen and paper and began to write down her thoughts. She compiled what turned out to be a list for her husband and 2 young boys of a hundred simple points of common-sense advice principle and wonder.

'Always kiss the boys good bye and good night' she wrote. Teach them to be on time and to mean what they say. 'Get a dining room table and try to eat together'. Teach them to respect women and never double date. 'Never leave more than a week, before making up'. Life is too short.

For most of us we hope there is still time for such inspiring things. Her list certainly makes you wonder and wondering is good for the soul as any contemplative will tell you.

I would like to conclude with the words of Peter Steele SJ, 'BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY' a West Australian, educated at the Christian Brothers College, Perth, the Provincial Superior of the Australian Jesuits from 1985 to 1990, died peacefully at about 6 pm on Wednesday June 27 at Caritas Christi hospice, Melbourne. May he be blessed forever in God's presence.

There is a Spanish proverb that says, ''God writes straight with crooked lines". All of us, to some degree, are crooked: but he can make us the straightest way to him for somebody else. And perhaps, for most of us, that will be the best thing we can do or be in this life - to be the living way to God's home and ours, for another of his daughters, or his sons. Here at this Mass, let us eat and drink with some of those others, 'our Year 6 Confirmation candidates', on their personal journeys. And let us take heart, once more, for our own.

Fr Gaetan Pereira
College Chaplain