This week, I am scribing my message earlier than usual because I am up north for the weekend helping one of our daughters to prepare for the birth of her next child. I will be occupied with living in the present in order to assist in preparing her, her family and all of us for this new reality. In writings around rites of passage, this is called the liminal space, the space of being ‘not there yet’. It is a time of anticipation but also a time of fear and wondering, for what may or may not eventuate, a time of unknowing and yet a time of trusting. In these liminal spaces, we really do need each other because we face the unknown.
I am conscious that as I sit at my desk on this Sunday night, I have heard from our five children for Mother’s Day. I recall the words I spoke on Friday to the staff who attended our Mother’s Day Liturgy at the diocesan offices. I reflected that the gift of being a mother was the best gift I have been given during my lifetime. I know it has required both Allen and my giving selflessly, while taking on enormous responsibility, and yet it is in this giving that we have received. Such love is beyond words and the bonds that are created cannot be broken. This gift has formed us beyond measure.
A number of people from our Diocese travelled to Sydney to attend the Catholic Ministries Network Conference, Forming Missionary Disciples held last Tuesday (1 May). The purpose of the day was to explore this topic with others who are engaged in ministry. The keynote address was given by Fr Paul Roberts of the Diocese of Parramatta. His focus was on renewing our baptismal call and enabling our gifts in parish and school life.
What a lovely reading for us to contemplate on the weekend as we heard from the Gospel of John (15:1-8), the parable of the vinedresser and the careful cutting back, trimming and pruning of the vine in order for it to produce a rich yield. This should mean a great deal to us who live in the Hunter, surrounded by a great expanse of vines. The vinedresser just removes the bare minimum, with great care, in order to make the vine healthy and able to produce a rich harvest.
I am conscious that many of you will be reading this message on Anzac Day and, of course, in 2018 we remember that it is 100 years since World War I ended. I have no doubt that the theme for this week’s Sunday readings – The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep – resonates with each of us when we remember those who laid down their lives to protect the place they call home, and that world peace was attainable.