We have not all sailed through the pandemic without hurt, illness and loss. These words from Fr Brian D’Arcy offer a chance to reflect on our recent experience and on what comes next in our lives, the decisions we are making day by day.
Time is a non-renewable resource; so, we should spend it wisely by keeping life in a proper perspective. It means making choices about what is essential and what is not.
Covid gave many of us a renewed sense of our own mortality. It made the possibility of death undeniable. It is one of the contradictions of our culture that we do everything in our power to deny our own mortality; yet by denying death we actually give it increased power over us.
As we continue to integrate the lessons Covid taught us, we’ll acknowledge our mortality in wise and healthy ways. We need to give death its rightful place – and there’s nothing morbid about that. It helps us to be aware of how fleeting life is. It makes us more grateful every day for the precious time we have and it makes me humbler about the things I might have achieved. Since I now know my life is brief I ought to reflect long and hard on what I do with it. How I spend my hours determines how I spend my days and how I spend my days is how I spend my life.
So let us reflect together in prayer:
Lord, help me to use the gift of time wisely. “What is life?” St James asks, “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:15). Guide me to spend less time on social media and more time seeking your truth; less time chasing success and more time seeking your peace.
May I see each day as a special gift from you. I do not know what tomorrow will bring but with your help and guidance, I will become humbler, gentler and more compassionate. Hear and answer this prayer Lord, in your own time. AMEN
‘My children and grandchildren will have a problem growing coffee if current generations don’t take action against climate change.’ Caroline Rono, pictured above on her Fairtrade coffee farm in Kenya Caroline sent us this vital reminder on the very first day in the Choose The World You Want festival: to choose that fairer world we all want, we can all take action.And Caroline is leading the way. Like other Fairtrade farmers we’ve met this week, she’s planted trees on her farm, embraced sustainable energy and taken up training on climate-friendly farming techniques. Choosing Fairtrade is one way we can join her in taking action. Action that means more power and more income for farmers like Caroline to take on the huge challenges of climate change.In fact, every single event at the Choose The World You Want festival showcases ways we can take action to back the communities most threatened by climate change. As week two begins, here’s a sneak peak of a few events we’re really looking forward to. #1: The Unfair Climate Crisis, 6pm UK time Wednesday 2 March Around the world it is those on low-incomes, people of colour, indigenous groups, and women feeling the worst effects of climate change.Our expert panel discuss how these deep-seated global injustices are linked, and how we can tackle them together to achieve a fairer future. Fairtrade Africa’s Kate Nkatha hosts a discussion between climate activist and musician Louis VI, 350.org’s Namrata Chowdhary and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance’s Mithika Mwenda. JOIN THIS EVENT #2: Tony’s and Fairtrade: Choco Quiz and Tasting, 4pm UK time Friday 4 March Try some top Fairtrade chocolate and test your choco knowledge with this quiz and tasting session, featuring cocoa experts from Tony’s and Fairtrade. Sign up and treat yourself some tasty Tony’s goodies to join the fun. Host Angel Arutura, anti-racism educator, activist and content creator, joins Fairtrade cocoa producer and livelihood development officer Deborah Osei-Mensah, Tony’s representative Nicola Matthews and Fairtrade Foundation’s David Finlay. JOIN THIS EVENT And from Fairtrade wine tasting sessions with Co-op to an evening of arts, music and storytelling with the Africaniwa tribe, there’s much much more going on in the final week of the Choose The World You Want festival. Missed anything from week one? Not to worry, many events are now available to watch in our ‘On Demand’ section, including a screening of a film featuring Caroline and a question and answer session with her. More ways to get involved Celebrate the campaigners taking action Fairtrade campaigners have been pounding the streets and flying the flag for Fairtrade this week. Literally! Fairtrade London organised a guided walk around the city on Friday, tracing the links from the transatlantic slave trade to modern global trade inequalities. Meanwhile in Mossley some wonderfully colourful Fairtrade flags are flying to celebrate ten years of Fairtrade Town status.
SHARE YOUR FORTNIGHT ACTIVITES Visit our youth exhibition With thousands of Fairtrade schools, universities and colleges across the UK, youth activism is always at the heart of Fairtrade Fortnight. And this year the Fairtrade Youth Exhibition gives young people a chance to find creative ways to call for climate justice.Find more on the Fairtrade Schools website, where you will find many more opportunities for young people to get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight. Get your MP involved We’re asking MPs to deliver on the promises they made at COP26. Promises to fund just the type of brilliant grassroots climate-friendly farming initiatives Fairtrade farmers have been telling us about all week. Fairtrade Fortnight is the perfect time to ask your MP to back a fair deal for farmers living with the consequences of a climate crisis they did not cause. Use our quick form to get in touch with your representative. WRITE TO YOUR MP And finally, grab those extra ethical bargains! Discounts, competitions and special offers on lots of your Fairtrade favourites are coming thick and fast this Fairtrade Fortnight. Visit our website to scout out special offers from the likes of Traidcraft, Ben & Jerry’s and LIDL. Hope you’ve enjoyed the first week of the Choose The World You Want festival as much as we did. Have a restful weekend as we gear up for another seven days of celebrating and supporting the climate action of farmers and workers around the world. Best wishes, Stefan Campaigns Team, Fairtrade Foundation
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They did not dare to ask Jesus any more questions (Luke 20:40). This sentence from the Gospel of St. Luke comes at the end of a passage that tells of an exchange between Jesus and some Sadducees. As usual, the Sadducees have an agenda. They were not keen on this upstart travelling rabbi, Jesus, and were looking for ways to up-end him. They decide that a theological debate might be a good way to do it. Therefore, they think up a rather implausible tale of a woman who outlives not only her first husband but her seven subsequent husbands (all brothers of her first husband, obliged under the Law to marry the widow and ‘raise up children for the brother’ if the previous union had been childless). Finally the widow dies. And the Saducees’s question for Jesus is: ‘At the resurrection, whose wife will she be?’
The Sadducees did not accept the notion of the resurrection from the dead. The hypothetical scenario they invented is meant to illustrate how ridiculous resurrection from the dead is. They seem pretty sure of themselves here, convinced that they have articulated an unsolvable problem. They expected to stump Jesus and to make him withdraw from the conversation, a disgraced loser.
As I reread and ponder this passage of Luke’s gospel, I can see the Sadducees gathered around, the speaker feigning seriousness, while secretly flicking supercilious glances at the others. They are subtly mocking Jesus. In typical adolescent fashion, they completely overestimate their own abilities and underestimate Jesus’; they are unprepared for his skill in theological debate, unprepared for a mind and personality like his.
I would love to have been there. St Luke shows that Jesus, with consummate courtesy and intelligence, not only pays the Sadducees the compliment of taking their question seriously, but answers it on such a deep level as to leave them amazed (Luke 20:34-38). When Jesus crafts his answer, his listeners were given the privilege of observing the workings of a truly beautiful mind. Anyone who has ever been in the class of a teacher who is a brilliant and deep thinker knows how exciting it can be to witness that teacher’s handling of difficult and subtle questions – off the cuff. There is always a moment after the question is posed when everyone wonders how the teacher will deal with the problem. Then, all the students share in the moments of unexpected enlightenment that break through as the teacher unravels easily and eloquently what, to everyone else, was a very tangled knot. It is an impressive event. Even those who are prejudiced against the teacher cannot avoid, if they are honest with themselves, being impressed . They may defend against it, as did the Sadducees here, but for the moment, even they must be quietly gob-smacked.
If you want to study Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees, I refer you to the text of Luke 20: 27-40. But the word-for-word answer is not actually what I want to linger over right now. What is amazing to me is that when Jesus finishes his answer to the Sadducees’s question, the whole pack of them ‘do not dare’ to ask him any other questions. This is a major achievement on Jesus’ part. The verbal cut and thrust of debate was what the professional religious thrived on, and practised daily. They were good at it and knew it. But Jesus was better. He could not be wrong-footed by them. They are, unusually, reduced to silence.
Most encounters that Jesus has in the gospels can tell us something about prayer. Can this one? At first this seems unlikely, but further reflection has made me change my mind.
There are some questions I think I need to answer honestly first. One, I wonder how prepared I am to experience a mind like Jesus’? Do I expect to be surprised by the depth of his penetration into my difficulties? Or do I want to reduce his mind to a smaller size – do I want, with at least a little part of myself, to outwit him? Two, do I realise that I am not always mature? Jesus will expose my immaturity – am I willing to accept what he may show me in that area? Three, on the other hand, I may be sincerely stumped, sincerely at the end of my endurance because of what life has thrown at me. I may ask for enlightenment, and Jesus may seem silent. In the event recounted by Luke, the Sadducees receive their answer immediately. I am, seemingly, not always so fortunate. But, what this story teaches me is that Jesus’ answer is probably going deeper than I expected. I may be right out of my depth, and that is why it seems that he has not answered. In reality, the answer is there, but I need to become deeper myself, to ‘grow into’ Jesus’ answer.
I seek, through prayer, a real encounter with Jesus, Lord and God. Like the Sadducees, I too may reach points when I do not dare to ask Jesus any more questions because of the depth of Jesus’ response to me. The Sadducees went away, however, only to continue to plot and scheme against Jesus. What do I do after I finish my prayer?
Lent is a time of prayer, a real encounter with Jesus. I’ve been saving this post from Sister Johanna till the right moment, and the beginning of Lent is a time of silence, as Our Lord experienced in the desert. It’s been something of a desert time for us all of late; let us use Lent to learn the depths of our love for those we are missing.