Once again we gladly share some wise reflections from Canon Anthony Charlton, parish priest of Saint Thomas, Canterbury. Thank you Father Anthony! Something to think about on our Lenten Pilgrimage.
At the end of his teaching on the beatitudes, Raniero Cantalamessa OFM CAP says, “The best way to take the Gospel beatitudes seriously is to use them as a mirror for an examination of conscience that is truly ‘evangelical’”.
Here are some questions that can help;
Is my deepest desire for God or for passing things that only bring temporary comfort? Do I depend on good feelings, or do I accept that doing God’s will sometimes involves the acceptance of enormous pain? Am I seduced by power, or am I prepared to allow God’s power to reign in me? Do I strive for holiness, or am I, at times, satisfied with mediocrity and lukewarmness? When a brother, a sister, or a co-worker demonstrates a fault, do I react with judgement or mercy? Are my intentions pure? Do I say yes and no as Jesus did? The clearest opposite of purity of heart is hypocrisy. Whom do I seek to please by my actions: God or other people? Am I addicted to the approval of others? Am I a peacemaker? Do I bring peace to different sides? How do I behave when there are conflicts of opinion or conflicts of interest? Is the peace of God in my heart, and if not, why not? Am I ready to suffer in silence for the gospel? How do I react when facing a wrong or an injury I received?
When we read or listen to the Beatitudes, we have a portrait of Jesus himself. He gives us these beatitudes as a way of true happiness that will lead us to the fullness of life.
Bishop Claude Rault is writing about respect for life. A timely reminder of our responsibility to the Planet and for each other. May we be peacemakers, children of God.
The tiniest baby, dying at birth in the furthest corner of the Planet, in the eyes of God is worthy of respect … is unique, created by God’s will, sacred, loved by Him. All of creation is sacred, all of Creation is a Holy Land. It is wrong to limit the Holy Land to one single region since God became flesh of our flesh. All the Land is Holy, and it is a noble vocation to seek to safeguard and develop it. Our Christian commitment is a commitment to safeguard life, to watch and waken life. It is not enough to respect life and admire creation, we must be engaged on every field where life is threatened and despised. Respect for life does not stop at protecting the unborn, but must include opposing all oppression, all forms of violence and of war. The non-violence advocated by Gandhi has its roots in the Beatitudes, is part of our Gospel heritage: Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. No war can be counted as legitimate or justified in the name of the Gospel. Non-violence is part and parcel of the creative act of God.
Claude Rault, Jesus, l’Homme de la rencontre, Marseille, Publications Chemin de Dialogue, 2020, pp46-47.
If you are just joining this blog today, I hope you will go back to the beginning of these posts (12 March) to find out how we’ve arrived at this point today. We’re looking at Jesus’ message about death. Today I’d like to finish our reflection with the question, What must we do to be fully receptive to Jesus’ reassuring and loving message about eternal life? How can we really and truly make it our own, so that we, too, can say, Be not afraid?
First, I think it is a matter of trust, simple human trust. We must trust in Jesus, believe that what he says is true, be filled with faith.
Second, it’s about how we live. What does Jesus teach us on this point? Jesus wants to show us how to live in this life in order to be happy with him in the next. We are meant to be about Jesus, as Jesus is about the Father. We are to cleave to him now, pondering his teachings and praying to him, living as he teaches us to live, keeping the Commandments, and the Beatitudes.
Third, it’s about full commitment. We are meant to do this wholeheartedly, to embrace everything about Jesus, and whenever we are feeling mortally threatened by anything, we are to recall that he has hold of us. We will die one day, but he teaches us not to fear death because death, as he promises, is not the end of our life – despite all appearances to the contrary.
Fourth, it’s about right-thinking. Let’s unpack this in some detail. In Jesus’ earthly life, he works miracles of healing, and even raises a few people from the dead. But he was anxious that these miracles not be misunderstood. We are not supposed to deduce from them that Jesus is some kind of holy magician. More importantly, we are not supposed to see his power as being directed toward the political machinations of this world; nor does he use his power to reward with prosperity those who are good and punish with suffering those who are wicked. He does not want us to think that as Christians we arrogate his power to ourselves and have it on tap whenever we snap our fingers. Nor, again, does Jesus use his miraculous power to enable us to live forever in this difficult world where human propensities and human principles are so often widely at variance with each other. In answer to prayer, and for reasons known to him alone, he sometimes even now heals the dying and prolongs their life by some years. Perhaps someone reading this reflection has been the blessed recipient of such astonishing grace. But every time Jesus manifests power over the laws of nature this is meant to strengthen our belief in his divinity, and in the truth of every word he uttered. The miracles are meant to assure us that we can believe what Jesus says about eternal life because he is Lord of the living and the dead, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, all time belongs to him and all the ages, as the priest proclaims over the Easter Fire at the Easter Vigil.
In many ways, Jesus’ message is stunningly simple. Even a child can understand it. He is God. He loves us. He wants us to be with him now, through our life of faith and through our efforts to lead a life that is in accord with his teachings. He wants us to be with him in eternity. He is even now preparing a place for us with him. Am I enough of a child to believe this?
To you, my friends, I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more (Lk 12:4).
Thank you Sister Johanna! Five reflections to see us well into Lent, Easter and Beyond. I never once mentioned consciousness, our Lenten theme, but you open our eyes and ears to a deeper awareness of who Jesus is, and what life and death are all about. Thank you once again. Will Turnstone.
Sculpture at the Visitation Convent in the Holy Land, NAIB
We start the week with a welcome reflection from the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton. Sister Clare, the intrepid parachute jumper, is now their Superior General, but found time to get this post to the editors. Thank you Clare! Will T.
Zechariah 9:9-10 Matthew 11:25-30.
‘Among the pagans, their rulers Lord it over them and their great men make their authority felt.’ (Luke 22:24-25)
By contrast, truly humble people like Jesus seek the good of others, not their own power, status and comfort. Only when such a person becomes a leader is there true joy among the people. They know (s)he understands their struggles and is on their side. A humble leader, who takes on the role only to promote the good of the people, brings real hope of a better life to all together with a sense of community pride and gratitude.
Humble people do not need to reinforce or elevate their own importance. They speak the truth respectfully and consistently, even if no-one pays attention. God favours such people whom Jesus calls ‘the poor in spirit’. If they are poor, voiceless, powerless and marginalised in society, God the Father will choose to reveal His truth to them rather than the powerful, celebrated and accomplished. He will make them His messengers and instruments in the world. Both the Magnificat of Mary and Jesus’ ‘manifesto’, the Beatitudes, assure us of this.
Although humble leaders seem scarce in today’s world, Christ is the King whom Christians really serve while obeying earthly authority in everything that is right.
No worldy ruler has power to compel us because our service is freely given out of love for our true leader. His yoke feels easy and His burden, light because His is an authority we can rejoice to live under.
Left to right: Sisters Susan, Esther, Elizabeth, Marcellina, Patricia and Clare FMSL
This term Fr Austin offers us the chance to reflect on the beatitudes as Jesus gave them in the Sermon on the Mount. He has planned ten talks on Mondays at 7.00 at the Franciscan Study Centre, Giles Lane, Canterbury.
Please feel welcome to come along and listen and share in these stimulating evenings. The dates will be:
– January 9th
– January 16th
– January 23rd
– January 30th
– February 6th
– February 13th
– February 20th
– February 27th
– March 6th
– March 13th
World Youth Day Pilgrims in the Tatra Mountains, near Zakopane, Poland.