Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
If you walk up Smith Street from Infant Jesus Church you will see the developing site for our new school. One of the unfinished big units is adjoining Smith St, so you cannot miss it. At the moment there are four huge slabs in an upright position. Each slab has a Christian value embedded in the concrete in large letters: Faith, Hope, Love Truth. Its good to reflect that our children will see these Christian qualities writ large during the course of their primary education and that from their earliest impressionable years.
While admittedly not exclusively Christian of course , nevertheless these are certainly Gospel values to be cultivated by followers of Jesus as they try to deepen their discipleship. The Word of God chosen for this initial period of the year in fact emphasizes discipleship and its demands.
We can reflect that disciples of Jesus cannot avoid the cross and the frequently harsh nature of life, eg suffering and disruption . We have examples of these, hitting our fellow citizens in Queensland and Northern New South Wales at this time with the repetition of widespread flooding.
The Book of Job is the `locus classicus` in the bible for the harshness, drudgery and misery of life.
While there is of course a joyous , happy and robust side to life, there is also a frequent element of fragility attached to it as well. This latter is what the reading from Job bemoans today.
Yesterday I conducted a wedding in the church for a young couple setting out on the path of life together.But I also reminded them that there had been a funeral in the church earlier in the day. I referred to the poet G.M Hopkins who wondered if there was any way to preserve or `keep back` beauty, keep it from vanishing away. It seems as if there is in fact no way to do so, and one could be easily moved to despair as Job was.
But Hopkins also realized that there is a way to preserve the flower of beauty; `the airs innocent, maiden manners,.. sweet looks, loose locks, girl grace`, of the bride` . How can this be done? The answer Hopkins tells us is to `give back beauty, beauty back to God, beauty`s self and beauty`s giver.` And then God will have all in his safekeeping.
We know that all Christians, including a radiant newly married couple , need to be prepared for the recurrent drudgery of life. They need to resolve that the inevitable tedium of repeated tasks and chores day in day out will not jeopardize their original vision of enduring happiness together .
In spite of all our doubts and questions, St. Paul comes along in the second reading with his version of the good news, which is a free gift to all of us.
In the gospel today, still in Chapter 1 , Mark tells us that Jesus comes to relieve people who are victims of the harshness of life and to lift them from bouts of depression or possession or sickness. Mark has already assured us that Jesus had set out to establish the reign of God and this is how he does so. The miracles of healing he performed were a sign that the kingdom of God had indeed arrived.
We now must take up the challenge of committing ourselves to the Lord as disciples and spreaders of the good news around us. We can sympathize with people like Job – who is really only a type of the suffering human being – because we know where the remedy lies.
We have the power to soften the harshness of life for many people. And the evangelist Mark manages to include a final tip as to how we can do this; he cites the example of Jesus who occasionally escaped from the hustle and bustle of life to be alone in prayer. We too can come into vital contact with our heavenly Father in the silence of our hearts.
Tadgh Tierney ocd